Friday, October 7, 2016

Successes This Week!

A Successful Year at CITES!
International meeting votes to protect many imperiled species from overexploitation in global wildlife trade.

It’s been a busy few weeks for our international team, just back from the CITES Conference of the Parties (COP) in South Africa.

A big part of our work year-round is helping countries create proposals to present at the next CITES meeting, and gather support for them. Months, even years of work go into these proposals to better protect species native to the Americas from the often devastating demands of wildlife trade — but it’s not until the COP that we get to see if they are accepted.

For the past several months, we’ve been sharing with you many of the proposals our team has been working on. Now the votes are in!
African grey parrot, © Thomas Quine
African grey parrot, © Thomas Quine
African grey parrots – Win!
With tens of thousands of these birds captured and exported for the pet trade every year, and tens of thousands more dying in the attempt, many of us saw the proposal to protect the African grey parrot as the last, best chance to keep the species from extinction. So we are thrilled to report that after a great deal of work, the proposal to list African grey parrots under Appendix I was adopted! This appendix offers the highest level of protection that CITES can give, and means that nearly all trade in the species will be prohibited — a fantastic step forward for these beleaguered birds.

Arboreal alligator lizards – Win!
In the cloud forests of Mexico and Central America, several species of rare, tree-dwelling lizards are being driven towards extinction. These critically endangered endemic species are being taken from their habitats for the pet trade in the U.S. and Europe, where they are sold for exorbitant prices. Thankfully, the proposals that we helped Mexico and Guatemala to put forward to better protect these species were both successful! All 29 species in Mexico are listed under Appendix II, and five species from Guatemala were given the extra protection of listing under Appendix I. We’ll be continuing to work with Mexico to gather support for more species to be moved to Appendix I.
Madagascar tomato frog, © Brian Gratwicke
Amphibians – A Mixed Bag
We went to bat for several species of amphibians at CITES this year, including four frogs and a newt. All were in serious trouble thanks to high demand for them in the wildlife trade, whether as pets, food, medicine or other products.

The incredibly rare Titicaca water frog – which is found in just one lake in the entire world – is now listed under CITES Appendix I! With almost all trade in this species now prohibited, we may actually stand a chance at seeing the Titicaca water frog survive for future generations.

Proposals for the Hong Kong newt, false tomato frog, and all three species of burrowing frogs were also adopted by consensus, placing these species on Appendix II to better regulate their trade and protect these animals from overexploitation. Unfortunately, the proposal for the Madagascar tomato frog also passed, moving this species from Appendix I to Appendix II before the species is really ready to support increased trade.

There are a number of threats facing thresher sharks, but all three species are under extreme pressure from overharvesting for international trade. Shark proposals have historically been a great challenge, but we worked hard to gather support for a few this year. Happily, the proposal to place thresher sharks in CITES Appendix II passed with more than 100 nations voting in support!
Thresher shark, © Bearacreative/istockphoto
Silky Sharks – Win!
Similar to thresher sharks, silkies have had a long road to protection under CITES, and face the same threat of overfishing, targeted for their distinctive fins. In fact, this shark is one of the top three species in the global fin trade, with up to 1.5 million fins bought and sold each year from this species alone! We are thrilled to report that the proposal to list silky sharks under CITES Appendix II also passed, again with an unprecedented show of support for our finned friends!

JohnsonFreshwater Rays – Withdrawn
Sadly, without enough support to move it forward, the proposal to list freshwater rays under CITES Appendix II was withdrawn. That’s not great news for these imperiled creatures, but the benefit of withdrawing the proposal instead of seeing it voted down is that we can work to gather more support for it, and to present it again with more allies from more countries at the next Conference of the Parties.
Ocellate river stingray (captive), © Steven G. Johnson
Ocellate river stingray (captive), © Steven G. 
Devil Rays – Win!
These animals are harvested by the thousands for their gill plates – the part of the body they use to filter food from the water. Despite declining populations, the numbers of devil ray gill plates on the market have tripled in just the last three years. A remarkable 23 countries came together to propose listing all nine species of devil rays under Appendix II to protect them from the demands of unregulated trade, and we are very happy to say the proposal passed with 110 nations voting in support!
Illegal logging of rosewood
Illegal logging of rosewoodRosewood trees – Win!
We worked with several nations on a proposal to list the entire genus of rosewood trees (Dalbergia) under Appendix II. The sheer scale of the rosewood trade is immense, costing healthy trees, valuable wildlife habitat, and human lives. But we are very happy to say the proposal was adopted! More than 300 species of rosewood trees, living in more than 100 countries worldwide, are that much safer from the demands of unregulated trade.

Reducing Demand for Wildlife Products – Win!
Another resolution our team worked hard on takes aim at reducing the demand for wildlife trafficking wherever there is a market for it in any of the 183 nations that have signed on to CITES. It asks the governments of those countries to take clear, proactive steps to research where the demand for these products is coming from within their borders, and launch campaigns to raise awareness of the impacts these products have on wildlife. This proposal was also adopted with a wide range of support.

Endangered Yellow-Legged Frog Recovers.
Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel M. Ashe

Goal: Praise the protection and subsequent recovery of yellow-legged frog populations in Yosemite.

The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog was added to the endangered species list two years ago, and since steps have been taken to improve conditions for this species, its numbers have already rebounded. There is very encouraging evidence that human protection of this frog and its habitat can continue to have significant positive effects on its population and its ecosystem. This is partly thanks to the efforts of petitions like this one at ForceChange.

Victory for elephants and rhinos! A big sigh of relief. Big Wins for Elephants and Rhinos at CITES!

Donate to save elephants and rhinos
World leaders just rejected proposals that would push these majestic animals closer to extinction. But the battle is far from over, and you can help.
That's what you would have heard at NRDC when this exciting news rolled in: With your support, we defended elephants and rhinos against threats to their survival at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)!

It's not often that our victories come back-to-back, but that's exactly what happened in Johannesburg.

First, world leaders passed a proposal urging countries to close their domestic ivory markets — an essential step in the fight to save the world's elephants from brutal poaching.

Then, countries rejected proposals from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe to open up the trade in elephant ivory and committed to end any and all efforts to resume a legal ivory trade.

Finally, CITES delegates said no to legalizing the international rhino horn trade, rejecting a dangerous plan from Swaziland that would have lifted a 40-year ban and put rhinos on a steeper slope toward extinction.

You know how hard we've worked — along with our partners around the world — to protect these majestic animals.

You know because you've been with us the whole way: When you pressed President Obama to establish strong ivory regulations that have made the U.S. a global leader in elephant protection ... opposed efforts by South Africa and Swaziland to legalize the international rhino horn trade ... and supported NRDC's rapid response operation at CITES to compel world leaders to defend elephants and rhinos.

Now we must hold CITES nations to the commitments made in Johannesburg by helping them close their domestic ivory markets and ensuring that they no longer trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn.

You can help NRDC defend the environment on all fronts and support our fight to end the trade for good. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.

Make no mistake: Illegal wildlife traffickers and ruthless profiteers won't go away on their own.

NRDC knows one way to stop them — by shutting down the global ivory and rhino horn markets that are driving elephants and rhinos toward extinction.

These victories are a huge leap forward in our fight for rhino and elephant protection, and I hope you'll join us in celebrating them. Now please give what you can to help NRDC keep the pressure on world leaders to make sure they keep their word.

GREAT NEWS! Scotland has announced their wild animal act ban will be introduced in MAY 2017! WooHoo! More info via Animal Defenders International

African Grey Parrot Protected.
Target: John Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES

Goal: Applaud decision to protect African grey parrots from the devastating international trade market.

One of the most illegally traded birds on the planet has finally received improved protection. An international summit consisting of 182 countries voted in favor of banning all international trade of the African grey parrot, whose numbers have been drastically dwindling.

In the past 40 years, over 2 million of the birds have been captured from the wild for use as domestic pets. Experts estimate that about 50% of captured birds die before reaching their destination. Consequently, populations have decreased significantly, fueling fears of extinction. Efforts to save the parrot have already been documented in this ForceChange petition.

Most Trafficked Animal on Earth Given International Protection.
Pangolin Laos Wildlife Rescue Center
Target: John E. Scanlon, Secretary General, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna

Goal: Praise the protection of the critically endangered pangolin.

The pangolin, the most trafficked animal in the world, has recently been given protection by 180 countries at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). This scaly, ant-eating mammal is highly sought after not only for its meat, which is considered a delicacy, but for its scales. Thanks to international pressure, including from the ForceChange community, these unique animals will finally receive the protection they need.

Court Stops U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from capturing and killing wild red wolves. Defenders just scored a big victory in court that will provide needed protections for North Carolina’s dwindling population of wild red wolves. A federal judge in North Carolina has issued a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from removing native wolves from the wild unless they pose an imminent threat to human safety or property.
Red wolf (captive), © USFWS
In recent years, the Service had been removing wolves simply because some vocal landowners don’t want them there – a significant departure from years of prior practice. Lawyers for Defenders of Wildlife and our allies argued in a court hearing on September 14 that a preliminary injunction was needed to stop the agency from further harming the world’s only population of wild red wolves. Today, Judge Terrence Boyle of the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a ruling preventing the Service from unnecessarily trapping and killing any more wolves.

Defenders brought the federal agency to court because under the Service’s recent management, the red wolf population had declined from more than 100 animals to fewer than 45. Recently, the Service had not only stopped key conservation actions to protect and enhance the wild population, but even authorized private landowners to kill red wolves on their land. The Service has also been capturing wolves throughout the five-county red wolf recovery area in North Carolina, and holding them for weeks or months before releasing them into unfamiliar territory, separated from their mates and pack.

This victory could help stabilize the wild population while the Service continues to deliberate over the fate of what was once a model carnivore reintroduction program. Earlier this month, the agency announced a proposal to trap and remove most of North Carolina’s red wolves and put them into captivity, abandoning all protective efforts except in one federal wildlife refuge (and adjacent bombing range) in Dare County. Lately, that habitat has supported just a single pack of wild wolves.
Defenders and our allies have lots of work ahead to convince the Service to protect North Carolina’s wild red wolves, reinvigorate the red wolf reintroduction program, and find additional places for wolves to live in the Southeast. Today’s court victory gives us – and the red wolves – a fighting chance. The post Victory for Red Wolves! appeared first on Defenders of Wildlife Blog.

Dog in hot car: You may now smash car windows to rescue dogs in California, new law says

African Grey Parrots & Barbary Macaques
Barbary Macaques
CITES members voted decisively to protect wild populations of African grey parrots, who suffer terribly in the live pet trade as well as from habitat destruction. The endangered Barbary macaque was also protected. They're the victims of poaching and illegal trade, and they're often used as pets in Europe.

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African Lions
African Lion
An opportunity was lost when African lions weren't given a transfer from Appendix II to Appendix I, which would have prohibited any international commercial trade in lions or lion parts. Instead, there was a weak compromise reached to ban all bone trade from wild lions, an agreement that is a first step, but unfortunately does nothing to tackle the real threat of an emerging lion bone trade being fed by the captive bred lion industry.

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Botswana, China Fight for Elephants
Botswana, China Fight for Elephants
While elephant populations were not all moved up to Appendix I, Botswana, which is home to the most elephants in the world, showed courage in breaking from some of their neighbors that argued against the uplisting in the debate. China, the world's largest consumer of ivory, also spoke clearly in support for a resolution to close all domestic ivory markets.

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White Rhinos
White Rhino
Parties denied a proposal by Swaziland to allow a regulated trade in white rhino horn, which would have had huge implications on the poaching of this species.

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Online Wildlife Trade
On the final day of the Conference, Parties ratified a commitment to stamp out illegal online wildlife trade. IFAW, Tencent, eBay, TRAFFIC, Chinese government representation and a senior Kenyan prosecutor presented at an event during the Conference.

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Pangolins & Sharks
All eight species of pangolins (four Asian and four African), and two kinds of sharks and multiple species of rays (silky and thresher sharks as well as a number of devil ray species) were moved from Appendix II to Appendix I, signaling much greater protections.

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TenBoma partnership
INTERPOL and IFAW announced a cooperation on IFAW's tenBoma initiative in Kenya, which represents an important expansion of our longstanding collaboration combatting global wildlife trafficking.

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