Cairo Summit: EU Pledges Support for African Trade
Why Not Start at CITES?
Less than a week before the opening of CITES CoP11, the European Union (EU) participated in the Cairo Summit pledging its support for “integrating Africa into the World economy,” promoting human rights, the maintenance of civil order, and the alleviation of poverty, illiteracy, and disease through trade, and in particular, through the promotion of “the conservation of Africa’s rich heritage in biological diversity, which is a global asset, and promote its sustainable use for the benefit of local people.”
The “Cairo Plan of Action” formulated at the Africa-Europe Summit of the heads of state and governments of the European Union and African nations in Cairo, April 3-4, 2000, is a straight-forward commitment to Africa by the European Union that pledges its support particularly for the “least developed” African nations. The Cairo POA addresses the significant points raised by Southern African people of the need for a protection of African cultural identities and its sovereignty over the management and sustainable use of its environment and natural resources.
Hosted by Egypt’s President, His Excellency Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, the Cairo Summit ended with His Excellency Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria and chairman of the OAU, and His Excellency Antonio Guterres, Prime Minister of Portugal and President of the European Council announcing a launch date for the Cairo POA in the year 2000. IWMC – World Conservation Trust and the entire “sustainable use” community ask, “why not now, why not here at CITES?”
Indications from press conferences held the first week of COP11 meetings
by representatives of the EU at the UNEP Center in Gigiri, Kenya saw the
EU representatives voice strong opposition to efforts by Southern African
nations to open controlled and sustainable trade in its elephant surplus
and ivory stockpiles. This appears a direct contraction to the decisions
taken by their heads of state and governments at the Cairo Summit.¨
Kenya’s Protectionist Philosophy
Wastes Wildlife & Revenue
Faced with a glut of hungry lions threatening the rare Bongo antelope, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) killed between 100 and 200 lions in a wasteful and futile effort to restore some semblance of predatory/prey balance to its Aberdare range. Kenya’s absolute protectionist attitude towards wildlife allowed the lion population to skyrocket far above the biological carry capacity of the Aberdare habitat threatening the Bongo and eliminating the Giant Forest Hog.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Kenya’s protectionist posture is the wasted potential represented by the dead lions. In other African nations, a successful lion safari can generate between $20,000 and $40,000 per lion. The KWS lion killings literally cost that country between US$2.6 million and US$5.2 million. Instead of wasting their lives, the KWS could have used he lions to help reduce the national debt, pay for wildlife conservation, as well as feed, clothe, educate, and provide medicine for countless Kenyan children. CITES delegates are urged to reject the protectionist legacy of waste and support the efforts of nations with robust elephant populations to bring benefits to their animals and their people.¨
Other members of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist
Group agree with Professor Mrosovsky that:
The Hawksbill Turtle is NOT Critically Endangered.
Mrosovsky, of course, is correct when he observes that a species with the worldwide distribution, scattering of robust populations, and global population numbers of the hawksbill is not critically endangered compared to, say, the host of vertebrate species confined to single remote islands, single cave systems, and so on. Total extinction is not just around the corner for the Hawksbill.
(Peter Pritchard 2000)In chapter four, Mrosovsky presents in some depth the most controversial part of his thesis, that in fact hawksbill turtles are not in any immediate danger of extinction. I can hear the gasp of horror and disbelief as you read this. You will gasp and be horrified anew if you read the full chapter. How can anyone propose such an appalling deviation from accepted knowledge? Is he mad? And yet I find myself in substantial agreement. It is difficult to propose or imagine a scenario in which this species will disappear from the world in any current time frame. It has undoubtedly declined, and probably requires our diligent conservation attention, but it is not going extinct. Mrosovsky marshals an impressive array of data, much taken from the recent Chelonian Biology and Conservation special issue volume 3 No.2., to show that many populations of Hawksbill turtle currently under study are clearly increasing, despite being subject to illegal harvest. Some may claim that he (and possibly me also) do Hawksbill conservation a disservice by stating this fact so broadly. But we cannot conduct science or conservation by suppressing information or distorting reality.
I found his discussion of the IUCN criteria for Red listing and figure 18 particularly useful, demonstrating clearly to me that the criterion of decline over long periods creates artifacts of critically endangered listing that are unrelated to either the actual status or the changes in a species numbers. The difficulty of balancing the reality of a decline from previous abundance, with present low probability of extinction is a problem that the IUCN has not yet solved.¨
Perran Ross (Marine Turtle Newsletter)
U.S. Congress & President Clash Over Elephants
A terse one-paragraph statement, issued April 14, by the White House Press Secretary and entitled “Statement of the President” stated “we will oppose” efforts by Southern African nations to “reopen trade in elephant ivory” and urged other nations at COP11 to “maintain current trade restrictions.” Members of the U.S. Congress expressed exactly the opposite point of view in a letter to Donald Barry, head of the U.S. Delegation to CITES COP 11.
In the Congressional letter, dated April 4, 2000 and signed by Reps. Neil Abercrombie, Richard Pombo, Tom Campbell, Ed Royce, Gregory Meeks, and George Radanovich, urged support for the elephant proposals by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe seeking the sustainable use of its elephant surplus and ivory stockpiles. The Congressmen complimented the strides in conservation of Africa’s environment, its flora and fauna and its cultural heritage made by the nations in question and such community development programs as Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE
This orchestrated statement from the White House clearly contradicts
President Bill Clinton’s pledge of support for the sustainable use of and
African-based management and conservation of natural resources when he
visited southern African nations a few years ago. In a speech delivered
while in Botswana, the President voiced allegiance to the sustainable use
agenda recognized at the recent Cairo Summit between African nations and
the European Union as key to the economic viability of Africa as member
of the global community.¨