CITES COP 17 And Africa

November 2016 - Volume 14-4 & 5

CITES COP 17 And Africa


Willem Wijnstekers, a former Secretary General of CITES participated in CoP 17 Sandton/South Africa in the team of the CIC International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation. Here is his report on African hunting related matters discussed at CoP 17. Willem is also the author of “The Evolution of CITES”, now in its 10th Edition launched in Johannesburg during the CIC Press Conference “Keep Calm and Let Africa Speak”. You can download “The Evolution of CITES” HERE


The EU proposed a far-reaching set of proposals containing a series of new requirements and conditions for the international movement of hunting trophies. South Africa made a counter proposal with less conditions. The two (together with Canada, which made a number of amendment proposals to these texts) in a small working group discussed and agreed on a common proposal, which was then unanimously adopted by CoP 17.

The new set of ‘rules’ in a nutshell:

❖ The export of hunting trophies of species listed in Appendix I or II

  • requires an export permit except as provided in Resolution Conf. 13.7 (Rev CoP16) on Control of trade in personal and household effects (NB This exception unfortunately now only applies for neighboring countries which adopted an agreement, see next paragraph);
  • should only take place when the following conditions are met:
  • the trophy was legally acquired;
  • must be a whole animal, or readily recognizable part or derivative thereof, as specified on the accompanying CITES permit;
  • is raw, processed or manufactured;
  • was legally obtained by the hunter through hunting for the hunter’s personal use;
  • is being imported, exported or re-exported by or on behalf of the hunter, as part of the transfer from its country of origin, ultimately to the hunter’s State of usual residence.

❖ A Scientific Authority of the exporting country must take into account the provisions of Resolution Conf. 16.7 on Non-detriment findings in determining whether the export would be detrimental to the survival of the species; which may include:

  • information relating to distribution, status and trends of populations based on national conservation plans, where applicable, and which informs harvests;
  • a review of the sustainability of harvest levels taking account all mortality sources affecting the wild population of the species, including mortality due to illegal killing.
  • Parties exporting hunting trophies must ensure that trophy hunting is sustainably managed, does not undermine the conservation of target species and, as appropriate, provides benefits to local communities by having in place:
  • a robust regulatory framework relating to the harvesting of trophies;
  • an effective enforcement mechanism with adequate deterrents in the form of penalties for noncompliance;
  • a monitoring system designed to effectively monitor population trends and status, and
  • an adaptive management system through which harvest levels can be adjusted according to the needs of the specific population and based on results of the monitoring program.

❖ Trophy hunting activities relating to species listed in Appendix I should produce conservation benefits for the species concerned and thus may benefit from having a benefit sharing or incentive system in place to ensure that harvesting contributes to the offsetting of the cost of living with certain species such as elephants.

❖ Parties should consider the contribution of hunting to species conservation and socio- economic benefits, and its role in providing incentives for people to conserve wildlife, when considering stricter domestic measures and making decisions relating to the import of hunting trophies.

❖ Parties should make every reasonable effort to notify range States of the species concerned at as early a stage as possible prior to the adoption of stricter measures relating to trade in hunting trophies.


A second EU proposal was to amend Resolution Conf. 13.7 (Rev. CoP16) on the Control of trade in personal and household effects. At CoP16 it was already decided that for the export of rhino horn or elephant ivory contained in hunting trophies export permits are required. CoP17 unanimously adopted the following addition:

➢ for the export and re-export of all other hunting trophies unless Parties have entered into

bilateral written arrangements for cross-border trade between neighboring countries1 that include the required findings in Article IV of the Convention and other means of monitoring trade in hunting trophies, provided that such arrangements have been duly notified to the CITES Secretariat, and with the condition that the specimen at the time of import, export or re-export was worn, carried or included in the hunter’s personal baggage.2 A strange thing happened with the Annex to Resolution Conf. 13.7, point 16 of which states that hunting trophies are personal effects (and are thus exempted from the issue of an export permit if both the countries of export and import apply the exemption).

This paragraph was deleted and now only notes that the export of rhino horn and elephant ivory contained in hunting trophies does not qualify for the personal and household effects exemption. This implies that all other Appendix II hunting trophies do qualify for the exemption, but this is made meaningless because the provisions of the newly adopted Resolution as well as the revised one require an export permit anyway.

On top of this, the EU, the USA and a number of other countries will maintain their legislation requiring an import permit for personal effects.


A third proposal was adopted under this agenda item with regard to a procedure to review the quotas established for leopard skins: Parties, which have quotas, established under Resolution Conf. 10.14 (Rev. CoP16) are requested to review these quotas, and consider whether these quotas are still set at levels which are non-detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild, and to share the outcomes of the review and the basis for the determination that the quota is not detrimental, with the Animals Committee, which may lead to proposals for amendments at CoP18.


A working group drafted the following decisions: Subject to external funding, the Secretariat shall, in collaboration with African lion range States, the Convention on Migratory Species and IUCN:

a. Investigate possible mechanisms to develop and support the implementation of joint lion conservation plans and strategies, taking into consideration existing lion conservation plans and strategies;

b. Develop an inventory of African lion populations across its range, taking due consideration of existing inventories developed by African lion range States;

c. Support the development of relevant databases by African lion range States;

d. Develop strategies to reinforce international cooperation on the management of lions;

e. Undertake studies on legal and illegal trade in lions, including lion bones and other parts and derivatives, to ascertain the origin and smuggling routes, in collaboration with TRAFFIC and/or other relevant organizations;

f. Undertake a comparative study of lion population trends and conservation and management practices, such as lion hunting, within and between countries, including the role, if any, of international trade;

g. Support capacity-building in lion conservation and management, including where appropriate the making of non-detriment findings where a range State requests it;

h. Support public awareness raising as well as education programmes in African lion range States, in order to support co-existence between humans and lions and to promote measures for the conservation and recovery of African lion populations;

i. Promote fundraising, as part of its overall fundraising initiatives, to support the effective implementation of conservation and management plans and strategies for African lion and for a CITES Task Force on African lions;

j. Create a portal on the CITES website to permit, amongst other things, the posting and sharing of information and voluntary guidance on the making of non-detriment findings for African lion; and

k. Report on the progress relating to paragraph a) – j) to the 29th and 30th Animals Committee meetings.

The Animals Committee shall consider the report of the Secretariat and submit recommendations to the 69th and the 70th Standing Committee meetings and the African lion range States, as appropriate. The Animals Committee shall review the taxonomy and standard nomenclature of
Panthera leo and report its recommendations to the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties.
The Standing Committee shall, at its 69th and 70th meetings:

a. Consider the reports submitted by the Animals Committee;
b. Recommend further actions to be taken; including the possible need for the development of
a. Resolution on the conservation of African lion;

c. Establish a CITES Task Force on African lions, inviting the participation of all African lion
range States, consumer states for lion parts and derivatives, and relevant enforcement
bodies, including the members of the ICCWC the Task Force;
d. Provide Terms of Reference and modus operandi for this Task Force; and
e. Consider the establishment of a multi-donor technical trust fund to attract funding and direct resources for the work of the CITES Task Force on African lions and to support the effective implementation of conservation and management plans and strategies for African lion.

African lion range States are encouraged to collaborate in implementing the decisions.
All Parties, governmental, intergovernmental, non-governmental organizations, donors and other entities are encouraged to support the African lion range States and the Secretariat:
a. In their efforts to conserve and restore this iconic species across the continent, taking into
consideration existing land-use practices; and
b. In implementing the decisions

Transfer of all populations of Lion to Appendix I: A working group proposed the following Decisions instead:
a. A zero annual export quota is established for specimens of bones, bone pieces, bone products, claws, skeletons, skulls and teeth removed from the wild and traded for commercial purposes.
b. Annual export quotas for trade in bones, bone pieces, bone products, claws, skeletons, skulls and teeth for commercial purposes, derived from captive breeding operations in South Africa will be established and communicated annually to the CITES Secretariat.


South Africa: Transfer of the Cape Mountain Zebra from Appendix I to Appendix II. The proposal was adopted by consensus.

Swaziland: Permit trade in white rhino horn from natural deaths or recovered from poached Swazi rhino as well as of future harvest of a limited number of animals: The proposal was overwhelmingly rejected.

Namibia and Zimbabwe: Unqualified listing of Elephant in Appendix II by deleting current restrictive annotation: The ‘threat’ that the countries concerned would ignore the restrictive annotations if the proposal would be rejected was considered as blackmail by many and clearly had a counterproductive impact: 27 Parties voted in favor, 100 against, and 9 abstained. Note that Botswana indicated to have banned ivory trade (probably including trophies) until at least 2024.

Transfer of populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe from Appendix II to Appendix I: This proposal even had, not surprisingly, a worse outcome than the previous one: 21 Parties voted in favor, 107 against, and 11 abstained.