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CITES - a model of bureaucratic ineffectiveness.

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Read how ineffective CITES is. Unbelievable - no wonder species are going extinct.

Published in: Environment, Technology, Lifestyle
  • So they pass resolutions but do absolutely nothing to ensure the parties to this talking shop comply with the decisions they have made. In the meantime wild tigers continue to decline, captive tigers are kept in appalling conditions, and lion bones,passed off as tiger bones, feed this disgusting trade.
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  • Thanks Lulu but without people like you to help us raise awareness, our animal advocacy work would be for nothing, so thank you.
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  • Chris you do an amazing job. Thank goodness for people like you educating the public regarding the so important future of our wildlife. Thanks
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CITES - a model of bureaucratic ineffectiveness.

  1. 1. 1 INDEPENDENT PRO BONO LEGAL ANALYSIS FOR ITEM 38 ON THE AGENDA FOR THE 65TH MEETING OF THE CITES STANDING COMMITTEE CONCERNING ASIAN BIG CATS FOCUSING ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF CITES DECISION 14.69 AND THE GUIDANCE ISSUED IN SUPPORT OF IT PLUS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE TRADE IN LION BONES FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO ASIA Report for the 65th meeting of CITES the Standing Committee Richard Hargreaves – LLB, FCILEx1 Table of Contents Section Page Executive Summary 1 1. The full assessment of Asian big cat measures at CoP16 2 2. Decision 14.69 incorrectly marked as 'superseded 3 3. Legal analysis of why Decision 14.69 has not been 'superseded' 4 4. Notification to the Parties No. 2008/059 incorrectly marked as 'Not valid' 6 5. Legal analysis of why, objectively, the guidance in the Annex to Notification 2008/059 should still be considered 'Valid' 7 6. Why Decision 14.69 and the guidance in the Annex to Notification No. 2008/059 are important 8 7. Implementation of the CITES provisions on managing captive breeding facilities 9 8. Additional and new photographic evidence relevant to Decision 14.69 11 9. Concluding remarks concerning Decision 14.69 and Notification No. 2008/059 23 10. Additional and new photographic evidence concerning the lion bone trade 25 11. Recommendations 32 Annex – Late 2012 Review of implementation of Decision 14.69 for CoP16 34 Executive Summary The writer has prepared the following report for the assistance of the CITES Standing Committee at its sixty-fifth meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from 7-11 July 2014. This report is specifically with regard to the Standing Committee's deliberations under Agenda item 38 concerning Asian big cats. The writer has read and reviewed the Asian big cats documents posted on the CITES website, under Agenda item 38, for the present meeting and also the Environmental Investigation Agency's document titled 'EIA Briefing Document on Asian big cats for the 65th Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee'. 1 The writer is an English qualified lawyer who has, since 2009, researched and written a number of articles and briefings on a pro bono basis focusing on the issues facing wild cats from a legal perspective. Four of these articles have been published in a specialist American legal journal at the time of writing in late June / early July 2014 whilst further briefings were prepared for the GTI, TRAFFIC and numerous other non-governmental organizations.
  2. 2. 2 For the purposes of this report it can generally be taken as read that the writer agrees with the Environmental Investigation Agency's recommendations and proposed amendments of the Secretariat's recommendations in SC65 Doc. 38, as set out in their briefing document referred to above2 . The only exceptions to this are where the writer's recommendations below differ slightly as to the approach to be taken concerning Decision 14.69 and the guidance in the Annex to Notification 2008/059. The writer also makes additional recommendations with regard to the worrying trade lion 'bodies', 'bone' and 'skeletons', the scale of which should not be underestimated. Aside from the matters covered in this report the writer also observes generally that the terminology used for the Secretariat's recommendations under Agenda item 38 could usefully be strengthened from e.g. requesting reviews of implementation to instructing implementation where it is clear this has been lacking or even non-existent. The writer has prepared this report on a pro bono basis, free of charge. Pro bono is a term frequently used within the legal profession often translated as 'for the public good'. It is hoped that the contents of this report will complement and in some places expand upon the information and conclusions in the reports at SC65 Doc.38 and its first Annex and also EIA's briefing referred to above. It is further hoped that, for the public good of Asia's big cats and their natural habitats, this report may even help to persuade the Standing Committee to agree some robust and meaningful actions on these issues at its sixty-fifth meeting. 1. The full assessment of Asian big cat measures at CoP16 Within Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP15) on the Conservation of and trade in tigers and other Appendix-I Asian big cat species it was previously stated in 2010 that the CITES Conference of the Parties: INSTRUCTS the Secretariat to report to the Standing Committee and the Conference of the Parties on the status of Asian big cats in the wild, their conservation, and trade controls in place in Parties, using information provided by the range States on measures taken to comply with this Resolution and related relevant Decisions and any relevant additional information provided by relevant countries3 . On 3 September 2012 the Secretariat issued Notification to the Parties No. 2012/054 stating that: In order to facilitate the reporting of the Secretariat required under Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP15), and to enable a full assessment at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16), all Parties, and particularly range States of Asian big cats are requested to inform the Secretariat of: i) all measures taken to comply with Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP15), in relation to all species of Asian big cats; ii) stockpiles of captive-bred or confiscated tiger body parts and derivatives; and iii) any actions proposed to deal with the stockpiles4 . 2 http://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-Asian-big-cats-briefing-for-SC65-FINAL.pdf 3 http://www.cites.org/eng/res/all/12/E12-05R15.pdf 4 http://www.cites.org/eng/notif/2012/E054.pdf
  3. 3. 3 Within Notification No. 2012/054 the Secretariat also stated that: All Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale are requested to fully implement Decision 14.69 in respect of the number of breeding operations and also for the total number of tigers, and report to the Secretariat on the measures implemented to comply with this Decision5 . The Secretariat advised Parties that it “would appreciate receiving this information by 25 September 2012”6 . At the time of writing of its Asian big cats document for CoP16, in early October 2012, the Secretariat had received just one response to Notification No. 2012/054, from Thailand. The Secretariat confirmed that it would continue to pursue the submission of the reports requested “to enable a full assessment” at CoP167 . By the end of January 2013, however, only one further response has been received, from China. This meant that the hoped for 'full assessment' of implementation of the CITES Asian big cat measures at CoP16 simply did not happen. Whilst the proposed administrative amendments of Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP15)8 were agreed9 , the standard reporting Decisions that were proposed10 were adopted as Decisions 16.68 – 16.7011 (after slight amendment12 ) and it was agreed that Decisions 15.46 to 15.49 would be deleted13 it is understood that: Over the course of the 10-day meeting there was only about 15 minutes available for Parties to intervene from the floor to share their concerns with the rest of the international community14 . 2. Decision 14.69 incorrectly marked as 'superseded' The situation outlined above meant that important matters such as Parties' efforts towards implementation of and compliance with CITES Decision 14.69 were not addressed. Firstly due to lack of submissions from Parties in response to Notification 2012/054 and secondly owing to time constraints at CoP16 itself. Whilst that situation is itself concerning it is of equal, if not more, concern that Decision 14.69 was then subsequently placed on the list of Decisions 'superseded' following CoP1615 , where it remains at the time of writing in late June / early July 2014. Decision 14.69 was adopted as a result of the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in 2007 (Cop14). It remains to this day a clear and robust statement by the Conference of the Parties that: Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level 5 Id. 6 Id. 7 See Paragraphs 6 and 7 at: http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/16/doc/E-CoP16-50.pdf 8 Set out in Annex 2 at: http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/16/doc/E-CoP16-50.pdf 9 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/common/cop/16/sum/E-CoP16-Plen-06.pdf 10 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/common/cop/16/com/E-CoP16-Com-II-30.pdf 11 http://www.cites.org/eng/dec/valid16/212 12 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/common/cop/16/sum/E-CoP16-Com-II-Rec-14.pdf 13 Id. 14 http://eia-international.org/too-little-time-at-cites-cop16-for-threats-to-tigers 15 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/dec/valid16/CoP15-Dec-remaining-after-CoP16.pdf
  4. 4. 4 supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives16 . It is stated on the 'CoP16 source documents for the changes to the list of Resolutions' page on the CITES website at the time of writing that: (…) a number of Decisions were not reviewed [at CoP16]. As such, they remain valid but are now superseded17 . A link to the list of superseded Decisions referenced above then follows that statement. Conflictingly, however, Decision 14.69 then fails to appear on the list of 'Decisions of the Conference of the Parties in effect after its 16th meeting'18 . This is despite the fact that list is introduced on the 'Decisions of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in effect after the 16th meeting' page on the CITES website, at the time of writing, as the list of “(...) all valid Decisions” (writer's emphasis added). Not surprisingly the Secretariat has been asked to provide clarification on this matter by at least one Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that the writer is aware of. The writer was advised that the Secretariat confirmed that Decision 14.69 is indeed still valid and whilst the Secretariat does consider it 'superseded' it will apparently not be proposing its deletion at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) in South Africa in 2016. Instead the Secretariat will purportedly propose that the wording of Decision 14.69 be incorporated into Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP16) at CoP17 as an alternative to asking for Decision 14.69 to be retained any further19 . 3. Legal analysis of why Decision 14.69 has not been 'superseded' Whilst the incorporation of the Decision 14.69 wording into Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev CoP16) (and / or its successor(s)) would be a most welcome development, the current situation and that purported proposal do raise legitimate concerns. To begin with, put simply, Decision 14.69 was not superseded at CoP16 or at all. Given that the Secretariat has confirmed it is still valid, Decision 14.69 should quite rightly take its place on the list of 'all' valid Decisions still in effect following CoP16. The definition given for the term 'Decision' on the Glossary page of the CITES website at the time of writing states: Decision An agreement between the Parties typically containing instructions to a specific committee, Parties or the Secretariat. Decisions are typically intended to remain in effect for a short period only, usually until a particular task has been completed. Many Decisions require a report to be submitted at the meeting of the Conference of the Parties following that at which they were adopted, and so would remain in effect from one meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the next. The list of Decisions is therefore revised by the Secretariat after each such meeting, 16 Id. 17 http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/16/source/cop16changes.php 18 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/dec/valid16/E16-Dec.pdf 19 Anon. 2014
  5. 5. 5 in accordance with Resolution Conf. 4.6 (Rev. CoP16), second DIRECTS, paragraph b), at which time it deletes the Decisions that are out of date20 . The introductory page to the Decisions section of the CITES website complements the above definition where, at the time of writing, it states: The Decisions, however are of a different nature. Typically they contain instructions to a specific committee or to the Secretariat. This means that they are to be implemented, often by a specified time, and then become out of date21 . Decision 14.69 stands out, however, because there is nothing 'typical' about it. Further, the 'particular task' within the first part of Decision 14.69, that those Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict their captive populations to a level supportive only to conserving tigers, is far from being 'completed'. In reality, given the spread of commercial tiger farming in recent years, that task is considerably further away from being completed in July 2014 than it was when Decision 14.69 was initially adopted seven years earlier, at CoP14 in June 2007. Finally, Decision 14.69 contains no 'specified time' within which it has to be implemented. Accordingly, as worded, technically, Decision 14.69 cannot 'become out of date'. Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives. It is both an ongoing requirement that has not ever been implemented or enforced since the day it was passed and a statement of the intent of the Conference of the Parties at the same time. It can easily be seen why the wording would be more suited to Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP16) but that leads into the next concern. An attempt was made previously to incorporate the wording of Decision 14.69 into Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP14), at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) in 201022 . That attempt was strenuously resisted by China at the time23 and the move did not happen on that occasion. It would be naïve to think that any further attempt at CoP17 in 2016 would not be similarly resisted. Accordingly, if a further attempt is made in 2016 might that not simply lead to some sort of 'watered down' compromise wording with a view to appeasing any Party or Parties against inclusion of the Decision 14.69 wording into Resolution 12.5 (Rev. CoP16)? Decision 14.69 stands out to the outside world as a comparatively clear and robust statement by the Parties to CITES that, put simply, commercial tiger farming should not be happening or tolerated. To water that statement down as part of a tidying up exercise to get a comparatively aged Decision 14.69 'off the books' would, frankly, be a travesty and a massive failure. 20 http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/terms/glossary.php 21 http://cites.org/eng/dec/intro.php 22 See Paragraph 12. c) at: http://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/15/doc/E15-43-02.pdf 23 See Paragraph 24 at: http://cites.org/sites/default/files/common/cop/15/inf/E15i-16.pdf
  6. 6. 6 The situation for Tigers and other Asian big cats is critical at this time and clear statements like Decision 14.69 cannot simply be put in stasis for three years whilst they are erroneously marked as 'superseded'. There is no apparent evidence of any formal rule on the CITES website or at all that says a Decision of the Conference of the Parties should automatically be marked as 'superseded' and effectively downgraded as to appear virtually non-existent if it is not specifically considered by the following meeting of the Conference of the Parties. In addition to the above, even if there were such a rule, the situation leading up to and during CoP16 would make its application to Decision 14.69 on that occasion completely unjust. It would be akin to saying that as only two parties provided any feedback with regard to Decision 14.69 for CoP16, because there was therefore so little documentation to discuss and even less in terms of time to have such a discussion, Decision 14.69 was therefore superseded. That would make no sense whatsoever. For the sake of completeness, if any of the content of Decisions 16.68 to 16.70 that were agreed at CoP16 had effectively replaced, re-enacted or even strengthened the wording of Decision 14.69 then a sound case could potentially then be made for saying that it actually was superseded at CoP16, i.e. in real, substantive terms. That was simply not the case though. In the circumstances: It is recommended that the Standing Committee instructs the Secretariat to transfer Decision 14.69 from the list of Decisions superseded after CoP16 to the list of all valid Decisions still in effect after CoP16 forthwith, with an accompanying and robust Notification to the Parties from the Secretariat confirming to them that Decision 14.69 remains fully valid in terms of the requirements set out within it. It is recommended that the Standing Committee instructs the Secretariat to re-issue, within the above mentioned Notification to the Parties, the requirement from Notification 2012/054 that: 'All Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale are requested to fully implement Decision 14.69 in respect of the number of breeding operations and also for the total number of tigers, and report to the Secretariat on the measures implemented to comply with this Decision [by 1 June 2015 in advance of and in readiness for a full assessment of implementation of Decision 14.69 at the 66th meeting of the Standing Committee]'. 4. Notification to the Parties No. 2008/059 incorrectly marked as 'Not valid' Following the 57th meeting of the Standing Committee in July 2008, in accordance with the Standing Committee's request, the Secretariat issued Notification to the Parties No. 2008/059 dated 8 October 200824 . The background to this Notification can be found in the Summary Record from the 57th meeting of the Standing Committee where it is recorded that: Several participants noted that there was no reporting requirement in Decision 14.69 but all agreed that reports were necessary. There appeared to be consensus that reports should be submitted at the 58th meeting of the Standing Committee. The Secretariat offered to issue a Notification to the Parties calling for such reports, but added that it believed it would be useful to provide further guidance on the form such reports should take and which operations were to be regarded as affected by the Decision. 24 http://cites.org/sites/default/files/notif/E059.pdf
  7. 7. 7 (…) The Committee agreed to establish a working group to clarify how the implementation of Decision 14.69 might best be reported to the Committee25 . Following the working group and the 57th meeting of the Standing Committee the Secretariat confirmed in the Notification itself that: The Secretariat was asked to distribute a Notification to the Parties to provide guidance in determining: to which Parties [Decision 14.69] applied; how such Parties might report; and the issues to be covered in such reports26 . As requested, the Secretariat then went on to set out, in a valuable Annex attached to Notification No. 2008/059, much helpful guidance for Parties to consider 'in determining whether Decision 14.69 is applicable to them'27 . Crucially this included the Secretariat's important opinion, reflecting its understanding of the intention of the Parties at CoP14 when Decision 14.69 was adopted, that: “trade”, in the opinion of the Secretariat, may be regarded for the purposes of [Decision 14.69] as referring to both domestic and international trade28 . Regrettably, however, purely because Notification No. 2008/059 itself contained the date of 28 February 2009 for submission of Parties' reports with regard to Decision 14.69, the whole Notification (i.e. including the Annex with the valuable guidance) was, after that date, excluded from all further 'Lists of valid Notifications' published by the Secretariat each January. The last time that Notification No. 2008/059 appeared on such a list was January 200929 . 5. Legal analysis of why, objectively, the guidance in the Annex to Notification 2008/059 should still be considered 'Valid' Given that the Secretariat has confirmed Decision 14.69 is still valid despite its current, incorrect and unhelpful placement on the list of Decisions superseded after CoP16, it is logical that any official guidance concerning Decision 14.69 should also still be valid. A good case could also be made that Notification No. 2008/059 should itself not have been marked as 'Not valid' as any suggestion that the key date within it was met or complied with would fall down when placed against the evidence which clearly shows that reporting on implementation of Decision 14.69 has never been good and was still being requested right up to CoP16 in March 2013. Similarly, even if the date of 28 February 2009 in Notification No. 2008/059 was superseded by e.g. the date of 25 September 2012 (being the date within Notification No. 2012/054 by which the Secretariat asked Parties to fully implement Decision 14.69 and report back to it on the measures they had taken to implement it) that would still not give just cause to mark the whole of Notification No. 2008/059, i.e. including the vital guidance relating to Decision 14.69, as 'Not valid'. 25 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/com/sc/57/E57-SumRec.pdf 26 Supra note 23 27 Id. 28 Id. 29 http://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/notif/2009/E001A.pdf
  8. 8. 8 The guidance contained in Notification No. 2008/059 is so 'Valid' and so important that some Parties even proposed it's inclusion within Resolution 12.5 (Rev.), alongside the Decision 14.69 wording when that was also proposed for inclusion in the Resolution30 . Put simply then, whilst the original deadline date in Notification No. 2008/059 may no longer be valid, the substantive guidance in the Annex to that Notification is more Valid today that it has ever been. Accordingly: It is recommended that the Standing Committee instructs the Secretariat to transpose verbatim the Annex from Notification to the Parties No. 2008/059 into a new Notification to the Parties that contains no key dates that could cause such a Notification to erroneously be marked 'Not valid'. That Notification should then remain valid until the wording of Decision 14.69 is complied with in full or moved (at which point a new Notification should be issued in identical terms to reflect the new location of those words). 6. Why Decision 14.69 and the guidance in the Annex to Notification No. 2008/059 are important Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP16) only urges: those Parties and non-Parties on whose territories tigers and other Asian big cat species are bred in captivity to ensure that adequate management practices and controls are in place to prevent parts and derivatives from entering illegal trade from or through such facilities;31 Decision 14.69 goes much further and is a clear statement / requirement by the Conference of the Parties to CITES that: Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; Decision 14.69 also provides the Conference of the Parties' clear statement that 'tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives', effectively complemented by the Secretariat's opinion in the Annex to Notification No. 2008/059, reflecting its understanding of the intention of the Parties at CoP14, that '“trade”, in the opinion of the Secretariat, may be regarded for the purposes of [Decision 14.69] as referring to both domestic and international trade'. Without getting into the unsavoury situation of being obliged to prepare lengthy pro bono legal opinion to try to save words that have not ever been realistically implemented or enforced since they were first adopted, those words themselves are still potentially powerful. They go far further on the issue of commercial tiger farming than the wording of the main Resolution on tigers and other Asian big cats ever has. At the time of writing it is still the current policy of CITES, as reflected in the Secretariat's report for the present meeting at SC65 Doc. 38, that: it remains crucial (...) for those Parties and non-Parties on whose territories tigers and other Asian big cat species are bred in captivity, to ensure that 30 Supra note 21 31 http://cites.org/sites/default/files/document/E-Res-12-05R16.pdf
  9. 9. 9 adequate management practices and controls are in place to prevent parts and derivatives from entering illegal trade from or through such facilities32 . This is because, as the Parties to CITES note 'with concern' in Resolution 12.5 (Rev. CoP16): (…) despite inclusion of Asian big cat species in Appendix I, illegal trade in specimens of nearly all these species has escalated and further threatens their long-term survival in the wild33 . Decision 14.69 is a robust and powerful statement of the intent of the Parties to CITES that Parties with commercial tiger farming operations are required to implement measures to restrict their captive populations to levels supportive only to conserving wild tigers. They are required to do this because meeting demand from captive bred sources only serves to feed, fuel and further stimulate the illegal trade in Tigers and other Asian big cats that, as the Conference of the Parties notes with concern, 'further threatens their long-term survival in the wild'. Decision 14.69 makes it far clearer than Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP16) that tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives. Similarly, the valid guidance in the Annex to Notification No. 2008/059 makes it clear that 'trade' in that respect is intended to include domestic trade. That is why Decision 14.69 and the guidance in the Annex to Notification to the Parties No. 2008/059 are so important. They are currently far more robust, clear and specific on the issue of commercial tiger farming than the main Resolution on the conservation of and trade in tigers and other Asian big cats. 7. Implementation of the CITES provisions on managing captive breeding facilities Tragically there are certain Parties, within whose territories tigers and other Asian big cat species are bred in captivity, who have failed and continue to fail to ensure that adequate management practices and controls are in place to prevent parts and derivatives from entering illegal trade from or through such facilities. Similarly tragic is the fact that there are also Parties who have failed to implement the first limb of Decision 14.69, to implement measures to restrict their captive populations to levels supportive only to conserving wild tigers, since the date Decision 14.69 was first adopted back in 2007. By virtue of the clearly evidenced acts of their commercial tiger farmers, that they have allowed to go unchecked, those same Parties have also failed to respect the Conference of the Parties' clear statement and intent that tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives. Perhaps most of tragic of all however is the fact that these countless failures, breaches and contraventions have been allowed to go on unchecked in terms of compliance and / or enforcement measures on an ongoing basis throughout virtually the entire period that CITES has purportedly been working to address the issues facing tigers and other Asian big cats. As regards implementation of Decision 14.69 specifically, the writer prepared a previous pro bono review, including substantive detail and evidence concerning implementation, in an article written in late 2012 (in the hopes that it might prove to be of assistance at CoP16 in Bangkok in March 2013)34 . The writer does not intend to go over the same ground again so 32 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/com/sc/65/E-SC65-38.pdf 33 Supra note 29 34 Hargreaves, R. (2012) A Review of CITES Decision 14.69 on restricting captive tiger populations to levels supportive only to conserve wild tigers. Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society (VI), 93-114.
  10. 10. 10 is instead exhibiting the published version of that 2012 article as an Annex to this report for the convenience of any interested Parties. Put simply, it was the writer's conclusion that, based on the available evidence up to late 2012, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Thailand and Viet Nam (plus, in all likelihood, Cambodia) had all been continually in breach of both parts of Decision 14.69 since it was first adopted back in 2007 and continued to be in breach of both parts of it on an ongoing basis at that time. In addition, the writer also submitted that the United States of America had also been in breach of the first part of Decision 14.69 on a continuing and ongoing basis, again since the Decision was first adopted in 2007. Tragically, the evidence up to and since that article was written in late 2012, up to the time of writing of the present report in late June / early July 2014, only seems to confirm the writer's previous conclusions and indicate that matters have declined still further. As the consultants instructed by the Secretariat in respect of the present meeting variously note in their report at SC65 Doc. 38, Annex 1: Seizures of suspected captive-origin tigers (live and frozen) have risen in three Southeast Asian countries (Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Viet Nam), and evidence suggests such trade is also taking place in Indonesia NGOs have observed several different brands of wine which appear to contain tiger parts of captive origin for sale in China suspected captive-origin tiger seizures since 2000 have been made primarily in Thailand and Viet Nam, but also in China and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic it seems evident that captive-derived parts and derivatives are increasingly entering the market. seizures of live tigers and frozen tiger parts have risen sharply in recent years, and given that such seizures are generally made far from protected areas (...) it is more likely they originate from controlled captive conditions rather than from wild tropical habitat. Tiger specimen seizures, especially including live animals and frozen bodies, have risen in South-east Asia in recent years (…) of 61 live tigers seized from 2010-2012, 74% were confiscated in three South-east Asian countries – the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Viet Nam. (…) many are suspected to have been bred in captivity. It is also possible that captive animals illegally enter trade in Indonesia, where seizures are rising, with the equivalent of 50 tigers seized from 2010-2012. The rising number of frozen and whole tiger bodies seized in trade suggests that many of these animals originated from captive facilities. Specimens of suspected captive origin are increasingly evident in seizures in range States35 . 35 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/com/sc/65/E-SC65-38-A01_0.pdf
  11. 11. 11 These conclusions only serve to illustrate further the dire situation with regard to some Parties' lack of implementation of and even flagrant disregard for CITES' Asian big cat captive breeding provisions since at least 2007. The fact that no compliance and / or enforcement measures have ever been taken to address such flagrant and ongoing disregard for the relevant provisions must almost certainly be a contributing factor to the increased levels of captive origin parts now being found in illegal trade. 8. Additional and new photographic evidence relevant to Decision 14.69 Although, in light of the content set out above and in the Annex to this report, it may not seem necessary to provide any further evidence illustrating ongoing breaches of Decision 14.69 the writer recently viewed relevant, additional, copy evidence on these issues as set out below. For the avoidance of doubt the writer has informed relevant environmental investigatory leads of the existence of this evidence (much of which has already been placed in the public domain) and has also been provided with the requisite authorization for its use within this report as follows: Xiongsen Bear & Tiger Mountain Village, Guilin, China – Early 2014 Given the evidence set out by the Secretariat's consultants at Figure 28 on page 52 of their report for the present meeting and also at page 6036 , as well as the voluminous additional evidence set in numerous previous reports detailing this establishment (including the joint report by one of the consultant's from 200737 , her follow up chapter from 201038 and the writer's 2011 article39 ), it will come as little surprise that the writer can now confirm that lion bone wine was still being sold in tiger shaped bottles at the Xiongsen Bear & Tiger Mountain Village at the beginning of 2014. The lion bone wine that the writer has seen film evidence of was in the exact same 1kg size, porcelain, tiger shaped bottles pictured by the Secretariat's consultants in Figure 28 of their current report. A bottle of this lion bone wine purportedly cost CNY280 at Xiongsen at the start of 2014 which converts to approximately US$45 at the time of writing in late June / early July 2014. The ingredients were listed as white wine, African lion bone, snake and additional Chinese medicinal herbs. In addition, the writer has also seen evidence indicating that the wording on Xiongsen Bear & Tiger Mountain Village bags in use at the start of 2014 proclaims that Xiongsen, presumably at that time, contained 1,800 tigers, 400 bears, 250 African lions and over 100 other 'rare animals'. As can be seen from the screen 'grabs' at Figures 2 and 3 below the previously reported40 appalling conditions that the tigers have to endure at Xiongsen clearly did not improve between 2010 and 2014. 36 Id. 37 Nowell K, and Xu, Ling. (2007) Taming the Tiger Trade: China's Markets for Wild and Captive Tiger Products since the 1993 Domestic Trade Ban. TRAFFIC East Asia, Hong Kong 38 Nowell, K. (2010) Tiger Farms and Pharmacies: The Central Importance of China's Trade Policy for Tiger Conservation. In Tilson, R. and Nyhus, P. (eds.) Tigers of the World: The Science, Politics and Conservation of Panthera tigris. Elsevier, Pp 463-475. 39 Hargreaves, R. (2011) China's Tiger Farms: Much Law but Little Justice. Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society (V), 1-40. 40 See for example: Jones, R. (2010) Exposed: Dark secret of the farm where tigers' bodies are plundered to make £185 wine. Daily Mail - available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1252500/Exposed- Dark-secret-farm-tigers-bodies-plundered-make-185-wine.html
  12. 12. 12 Figure 1: Entrance to the 'Xiongsen Bear & Tiger Mountain Village' Guilin, China – Early 2014 Figure 2: Appalling living conditions for the tigers at Xiongsen – Early 2014 Figure 3: A starving tiger living (?) in appalling conditions at Xiongsen – Screen 'grab' from footage taken at Xiongsen Early 2014, a copy of which footage was subsequently passed to the writer.
  13. 13. 13 Further, two separate sets of evidence of starving tigers at Xiongsen four years apart from one another could even conceivably be suggestive of a trend / potential methodology involving starvation of the tigers at the site. Whatever the facts of the matter, as it always has done, Xiongsen clearly continues to epitomise the type of establishment that the Parties at CoP14 intended to be consigned to the history books with the adoption of Decision 14.69. Given the emphasis that Parties laid upon the guidance in the Annex to Notification No. 2008/059 at CoP15 and the Secretariat's recent confirmation that Decision 14.69 is still valid, it stands to reason that the Notification No. 2008/059 Annex guidance is, in principle at least, also still valid. For the avoidance of doubt that guidance makes it clear, for the purposes of Decision 14.69, that: “intensive operations” may be regarded as operations focused exclusively or primarily on the frequent production of tigers; [and] “commercial scale” may be regarded as a level of production that enables a breeding operation, or is intended to enable it, to derive a substantial proportion of its revenue from the production of tigers, including, but not limited to, sale of parts and derivatives41 ; On that basis it then simply becomes a clear statement of fact that the 'Xiongsen Bear & Tiger Mountain Village' is and always has been an intensive operation breeding tigers on a commercial scale that has continually caused China to be in breach of CITES Decision 14.69 since the date it was first adopted. Accordingly, with regard to Xiongsen, Decision 14.69 effectively states to China the CITES Parties' requirement that it 'shall implement measures to restrict the captive population [there] to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers'. As set out in the Annex to this document that would arguably be only those tigers at Xiongsen within one or more of the official, international tiger studbook programs (of which there are none at Xiongsen) and / or a minimal number that might conceivably help to conserve wild tigers through legitimate education and e.g. a flow of ticket funds to legitimate projects in the field. Ten animals at most ought to be sufficient for those purposes and even then there would have to be a drastic improvement in their living conditions. China was even encouraged as far back as 2008, within the Notification No. 2008/059 Annex guidance, to put in place: the development of a strategic plan, incorporating deadlines, for the phasing-out of intensive breeding operations on a commercial scale [such as and including Xiongsen and others like it] or their conversion to operations devoted solely to the conservation of tigers42 . That has not ever been done and, as mentioned above, CITES and the Parties to it have acquiesced to China and other neighbouring Parties' continual flagrant disregard of the relevant provisions to such an extent that parts and derivatives from captive facilities such as Xiongsen are now frequently found within the illegal trade on a scale not ever witnessed before. 41 Supra note 23 42 Id.
  14. 14. 14 Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Chonburi Province, Thailand – Early 2014 The Sri Racha Tiger Zoo has caused Thailand to be in breach of Decision 14.69 since the date it was first adopted in much the same way that Xiongsen and others have caused China to be in breach. There can be no doubt that the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo is an 'intensive operation' where the working practices are 'focused exclusively or primarily on the frequent production of tigers' and where there is a 'level of production that enables (...) or is intended to enable it, to derive a substantial proportion of its revenue from the production of tigers'. One of the Secretariat's consultants reported, as far back as 2000, that: Tigers at Thailand’s Sri Racha Tiger Zoo are fed meat from associated commercial crocodile and pig farms. Tigers are breeding rapidly (...) Sri Racha has developed a technique of pulling young Tiger cubs off their mothers at a young age and suckling them with farrowing pigs, so that the Tiger mothers can breed again as quickly as possible. The owner of a traditional medicine shop in Bangkok told an investigator in 1999 that he had many Tiger penises in stock, which, since he had bought from Sri Racha Tiger farm, were not illegal in his opinion (…)43 . The 2002 export of 100 tigers from the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo to a Chinese / Thai joint venture called 'Sanya Maitree Concept Co. Ltd', based at Sanya in China's Hainan Province is also well documented44 . These were apparently for a new tourist attraction at Sanya called 'Love World' but a spokesperson for the joint venture allegedly stated they could eventually have over 1,000 tigers there and that tourists would be likely to eat tiger meat at Sanya45 . Unsurprisingly that export met with a great deal of concern at the time, apparently justified a decade later by charges being placed against a Thai Deputy Prime Minister in respect of the export (as he was the head of the forestry department at the time). A 2012 newspaper article reported that: He was charged under an article in Thai law which includes the "abuse of power, failing to carry out his duty and/or corruption," according to Teerayhut Mapame of the attorney general's office46 . The Sri Racha Tiger Zoo also has a notoriety for the it's 'missing' tigers (in terms of the numbers clearly being bred there not tallying with the number apparently on site)47 , the previous deaths of many of its tigers due to a bird flu outbreak from cheap infected chickens they were fed48 and the previous evidence of products containing tiger bone on sale at the site49 . The Sri Racha Tiger Zoo's cruel commercial exploitation of its tigers in various tiger shows and bizarre attempts at educational displays is also well documented. As was noted as far back as 2001: 43 Nowell, K. (2000) Far From a Cure: The Tiger Trade Revisited. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK. 44 Nyhus, P.J., Tilson, R. and Hutchins, M. (2010) Thirteen Thousand and Counting: How Growing Captive Tiger Populations Threaten In Tilson, R. and Nyhus, P. (eds.) Tigers of the World: The Science, Politics and Conservation of Panthera tigris. Elsevier, Pp 223-238. 45 Ellis, R. (2005) Tiger Bone and Rhino Horn: The Destruction of Wildlife for Traditional Chinese Medicine, Island Press, Washington. 46 http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/751177.shtml 47 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/scandal-of-zoos-missing-tigers-6170235.html 48 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bird-flu-strikes-thai-zoo-tigers/ 49 http://www.eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Thailands-Tiger-Economy-low-res.pdf
  15. 15. 15 The efforts at education are very poor with Sri Racha Tiger Zoo providing the worst kind of inaccurate ideas and misinformation50 . Again, however, nothing has been done and as a result, as set out below, Sri Racha Tiger Zoo continues in 2014 with the same cruel exploitation and ridiculously flawed attempts at education that were reported there nearly fifteen years ago: Figure 4: Sculpture of tiger cubs suckling from a pig at the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014 Figure 5: Targets for visitors to shoot to release morsels of meat for tigers underneath. Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014 50 Id.
  16. 16. 16 Figure 6: Sow raising a baby tiger cub Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014 Figure 7: Sign with explanation for the public of why sows feed tiger cubs Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014 Figure 8: Visitor bottle-feeding young tiger. Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014
  17. 17. 17 Figure 9: Young tigers in small cages. Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014 Figure 10: Member of staff in bizarre African type costume constantly hitting a tiger so it faces forward for visitors' cameras. Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014 Figure 11: Tiger being made to walk the tightrope during the 'performance' for visitors. Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014
  18. 18. 18 Figure 12: Tiger being made to jump through a hoop of fire during 'performance'. Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014 Figure 13: Forlorn and subdued tigers at the end of the performance Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Thailand – Early 2014 Thailand's Sri Racha Tiger Zoo is and always has been an intensive operation breeding tigers on a commercial scale. By virtue of Decision 14.69 the Conference of the Parties to CITES effectively told Thailand in 2007 that it shall implement measures to restrict the captive population at Sri Racha Tiger Zoo and all other sites on Thai territory falling within the remit of Decision 14.69 to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers. Thailand has not ever done that. As with China, Thailand was also encouraged in 2008, within the guidance in the Annex to Notification No. 2008/059, to put in place: the development of a strategic plan, incorporating deadlines, for the phasing-out of intensive breeding operations on a commercial scale [such as and including Sri Racha Tiger Zoo and others like it] or their conversion to operations devoted solely to the conservation of tigers51 . 51 Supra note 23
  19. 19. 19 Again, that has not ever been done and again, as with China, CITES and the Parties to it have acquiesced to Thailand's continual flagrant disregard of the relevant provisions on these matters to the extent that the provisions themselves now look like they have simply been 'brushed under the carpet'. The Parties to CITES and the CITES Standing Committee should not allow that to happen. Tigers and other Asian big cats cannot afford to have provisions such as Decision 14.69 'fall off the radar' for three years between Conferences of the Parties due to administrative or interpretational error. Muang Thong tiger farm, 30 kilometres north of Thakhek, Lao People's Democratic Republic – Late 2013 / Early 2014 The Laotian intensive operation breeding tigers on a commercial scale at Muang Thong, approximately 30 kilometres north of Thakhek, is comparatively new compared to some of China or Thailand's larger, more established, tiger farms. Despite this, back in 2010 when it was presumably still in its infancy, it was described even then as 'the largest tiger farm Southeast Asia'52 . In an article from April 2010 Vietnamese journalists detailed their visit to what was then and probably still is Lao People's Democratic Republic's largest tiger farm. They detailed how one of the owners explained to them that the farm made a loss in its first year, going into profit in its second year and then on to 'very high' profits by the time of their visit (which was presumably in late 2009 or early 2010)53 . This could give an establishment date for this large Laotian tiger farm around 2006 or 2007. Coincidentally 2006 also witnessed the only officially reported export from Canada to the Lao People's Democratic Republic throughout CITES' entire history, the export of 3 live tigers. Figure 14: CITES trade database showing the export of 3 tigers from Canada to Lao People's Democratic Republic – June 2014 The details on the relevant permits could presumably be checked and verified without big problems. If those details revealed a link to what the writer will now refer to as the 'Thakhek tiger farm' that would be sound indicative evidence that the Laotian tiger farmers had, in part, followed the Chinese model from some 20 years earlier (when five purebred Siberian tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), that had been exported from the United States of America to China, were moved to the Breeding Centre for Felidae at Hengdaohezi in 1986 to help establish this site as probably China's oldest intensive operation breeding tigers on a commercial scale54 ). The writer was recently allowed to view copy film evidence, that could usefully be located, obtained, verified and analyzed by INTERPOL, wherein it is explained that, around late 2013 / early 2014, one of the Vietnamese owners of the Thakhek tiger farm apparently confirmed to visitors to the farm at that time that he had been obliged to travel to Vientiane to pay the 52 http://ankorcivilization.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/breaking-into-southeast-asias-largest.html 53 Id. 54 Jackson, P. (1996) Concern about Chinese Tiger Programme, IUCN Cat News (25) p. 13
  20. 20. 20 equivalent of approximately U$1,000,000 in order to be allowed to carry on operating following the exposure from the 2010 media report referenced above. This source of evidence also includes detail to the effect that, around late 2013 / early 2014, the Thakhek tiger farm contained approximately 400 tigers but also clouded leopards and bears as evidenced below from screen 'grabs' of footage taken within the farm during that period. Figure 15: Cage upon cage of tigers in appallingly cramped conditions at the Thakhek tiger farm, Lao People's Democratic Republic - Late 2013 / Early 2014 The tigers at the Thakhek tiger farm are purportedly fed on a diet of chicken bone and feet that is imported from Thailand with rations of approximately 2 kilograms per tiger per day. A disease outbreak in recent years, suspected to be bird flu, apparently led to members of staff from the farm having to be quarantined. Further, despite subsequent, weekly antibiotic injections for the tigers it is understood that there may even be another outbreak of bird flu at the site at the time of writing of the present report in late June / early July 2014. Figure 16: The Thakhek tiger farm also breeds other rare animals such as bears and clouded leopards as evidenced from this screen 'grab' of footage from the site from Late 2013 / Early 2014
  21. 21. 21 Those who asked what antibiotics were injected were purportedly advised to ask the manager of the intensive operation breeding tigers on a commercial scale in Thailand's Ubon Ratchathani province. This person apparently attends the Thakhek tiger farm frequently to address such issues. The operation in Ubon Ratchathani was the first of three to be set up in Thailand by Tiger Kingdom Trakarn Co., Ltd. As there has been no implementation, compliance and / or enforcement measures taken with regard to Decision 14.69 since its adoption in 2007, Tiger Kingdon Trakarn Co., Ltd. now has additional sites at Chiang Mai (since March 2008) and Phuket (even more recently). The public face of these newer sites is geared far more towards tourists and commercial tiger 'petting' experiences55 than the site at Ubon Ratchathani. Returning to the Thakhek tiger farm, the visitors referred to above were apparently advised that if they wanted to buy a live tiger for meat this would cost 8,000 Thai baht per kilogram at the start of 2014, compared to 6,500 Thai baht in late 2013. This converts to approximately U$ 250 per kilogram at the time of writing in late June / early July 2014 and would corroborate with what they were also purportedly told, that a tiger from the Thakhek tiger farm weighing around 200 kilograms would cost approximately U$50,000. The visitors were apparently further advised that the unfortunate chosen animal would then be electrocuted following which the Thakhek tiger farm would buy back any unwanted parts and even offer discounts in respect of the animal's intestines etc. Customers to the Thakhek tiger farm are purportedly primarily Chinese and Vietnamese with Chinese customers generally preferring male tigers owing to the extra value accorded to the tiger's penis. Vietnamese purchasers are apparently less fussy in this respect, purportedly purchasing both male and female tigers for their bones which are apparently prized for tiger bone 'glue' and 'cake' in Viet Nam. There is apparently even a facility and an expert on site at the Thakhek tiger farm who will boil their tigers' bones down into this glue that is documented as being preferred by Vietnamese consumers56 . Figure 17: Tigers in cramped conditions with no enrichment and only one destiny Thakhek tiger farm - Late 2013 / Early 2014 55 http://www.tigerkingdom.com/Phuket.html 56 http://envietnam.org/images/News_Resources/Publication/tiger_trade_investigation_findings_2010.pdf
  22. 22. 22 In terms of transporting the tigers, the aforementioned visitors to the Thakhek tiger farm were apparently advised that, if consumers were wary of transporting their purchases themselves, this could be done for them by a bus company in the area that will purportedly take parts as far as Vientiane or Boten for an agreed sum. Transporting live tigers by road, they were advised, is now too risky. They were purportedly told that this is now done using a Laotian army helicopter instead at an additional cost of U$30,000, plus U$800 per shipping cage used (up to a maximum of twelve per flight (each containing one sedated live tiger)) plus a further U$10,000 to cover paperwork and additional 'payments'. It was apparently made clear to these visitors to the Thakhek tiger farm that they would basically be unable to source tigers from anywhere else along that stretch of the Mekong river, either on the Laotian or the Thai side, as the owners of the Thakhek tiger farm had close connections with the various boat operators who would almost certainly be involved in any attempts to source tigers from elsewhere in the area. The Vietnamese journalists who infiltrated the Thakhek tiger farm in 2010 reported that one of the farm's Vietnamese owners told them that he had '(…) taken thousands of tigers to Vietnam!'57 . Lao People's Democratic Republic joined CITES on 1 March 2004 and the Convention entered into force there on 30 May 200458 . There is no doubt that the Thakhek tiger farm is an intensive operation, breeding tigers on a commercial scale that falls within the remit of Decision 14.69. There is also no doubt that Lao People's Democratic Republic has failed to act in accordance with the Conference of the Parties' instruction to it that it shall implement measures to restrict the captive population [at the Thakhek tiger farm and any other intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale within Laotian borders] to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers. Again, as with China and Thailand's similarly non-existent implementation of Decision 14.69 nothing has been done to even remotely attempt to compel compliance by the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Casino Town, Undisclosed Location, South-east Asia – Early 2014. For the sake of completeness, in the hopes that it may assist the Standing Committee, with regard to the point cited by the Secretariat's consultants and referenced by the Secretariat and EIA that wealth has replaced health as a primary driver of demand for Asian big cat products throughout Asia, the writer attaches additional evidence that would appear to support this conclusion. Only a matter of weeks before this sixty-fifth meeting of the Standing Committee the writer was forwarded the photo below of a menu in a casino area within South-east Asia clearly showing tiger meat on sale for the affluent clients of the casinos. The writer understands this photo was taken only a day or two before it was forwarded to him. It is the writer's firm belief that the tiger meat used for such meals would almost certainly be from captive bred tigers whose existence in the area has been encouraged by lack of implementation, compliance and enforcement of Decision 14.69. 57 Supra note 50 58 http://www.cites.org/eng/disc/parties/chronolo.php
  23. 23. 23 Figure 18: Evidence of tiger meat on sale for rich casino clients in South-east Asia Photo taken a matter of weeks before SC65, 2014 9. Concluding remarks concerning Decision 14.69 and the guidance in the Annex to Notification No. 2008/059 A simple, preliminary literature review of the various reports and evidence that have been released in recent years leads to the following preliminary (and by no means complete) list of intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale. In accordance with the instruction of the fourteenth Conference of the Parties to CITES, measures should have been implemented by the relevant Parties many years ago to restrict the captive populations of these establishments to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers: China Hengdaohezi Breeding Centre for Felidae and associated sites, Harbin59 Xiongsen Bear & Tiger Mountain Village, Guilin60 Shenynag Forest Wild Animal Zoo61 Sanya Greatest World of Love62 Dalian Forest Zoo63 Badaling Safari World64 Nanjing Pearl Spring Zoo65 59 Supra notes 35-37 amongst numerous others 60 Id. 61 IFAW (May 2007) Made in China – Farming Tigers to Extinction 62 Supra notes 42, 43 and 59 amongst numerous others 63 http://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-Hidden-in-Plain-Sight-med-res.pdf 64 Id. 65 Id.
  24. 24. 24 Qinhuandao Wild Animal Park66 + as many as 200 other smaller establishments67 Thailand Sri Racha Tiger Zoo68 Tiger Temple69 Tiger Kingdom, Ubon Ratchathani and associated sites Lao People's Democratic Republic Muang Thong tiger farm 30 kilometres north of Thakhek70 + at least two others71 Viet Nam Thanh Canh Tourism Park72 + numerous other smaller establishments as documented previously73 Cambodia Any tiger farms found to exist, as referenced in a 2010 report by the Vietnamese NGO Education for Nature Viet Nam74 (although Cambodia's presumably verifiable statement for the present meeting that there is 'No breeding currently' of Asian big cats within its borders75 is acknowledged). United States of America All businesses of tiger breeders who frequently breed tigers for commercial sale to private owners for profit as these would be clearly also be 'intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale' as defined in Notification No. 2008/05976 . ---------------------------------- Tragically for Asian big cats the Parties set out above have made little or no effort whatsoever to implement Decision 14.69 since the date it was first adopted. More tragically for Asian big cats, however, is the fact that situation has been allowed to carry on unchecked, on a continual and ongoing basis, again since Decision 14.69 was first adopted back in 2007. 66 Id. 67 Supra notes 35 and 61 68 Supra notes 32 and 41-48 69 Supra note 32 amongst others 70 Supra note 50 and present report 71 As referenced in 'EIA Briefing Document on Asian big cats for the 65 th Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee'. 72 http://envietnam.org/library/Wildlife%20Trade%20Bulletin/ENV_WCB_April_2011.pdf 73 Supra note 54 and also: http://tuoitrenews.vn/features/3189/tigers-in-captivity-p1-–-the-large-cats’-lair and: http://tuoitrenews.vn/features/3186/a-godfather-of-tiger-bone-paste 74 Supra note 54 75 http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/com/sc/65/EFS-SC65-38-A02.pdf 76 Supra note 32
  25. 25. 25 From a legal interpretational point of view the wordings used in Decision 14.69 and the guidance associated with it in the Annex to Notification No. 2008/059 actually have the potential to be very useful and effective. As with any legal provisions though, they are only as effective as their enforcement which, in the case of the Decision 14.69, has been non- existent. The fact that Decision 14.69 was erroneously marked as 'superseded' following CoP16 only serves to add insult to the injury caused by so many years of non-compliance going unchecked. As a result of this administrative or interpretational error there was no mention whatsoever of Decision 14.69 within Notification No. 2013/037 on Asian big cats dated 27 August 201377 or the questionnaire annexed to it, that Parties were asked to follow in providing reports of their implementation of Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP16)78 . Parties were required to report on their implementation of Decision 14.69 in Notification No. 2012/054 of 3 September 2012, hardly any did and then the requirement to implement it and report on that implementation was completely absent from Notification No. 2013/037 dated 27 August 2013. Even if the Standing Committee now makes the recommendations set out in this report at this sixty-fifth meeting that will still mean the period from CoP16 in March 2013 to SC65 in July 2014 has been completely wasted in terms of the requisite emphasis that needs to be continually placed upon Decision 14.69 until it has been fully implemented. It is still the Parties' prevailing view in Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. CoP16) that 'those Parties and non-Parties on whose territories tigers and other Asian big cat species are bred in captivity [are urged] to ensure that adequate management practices and controls are in place to prevent parts and derivatives from entering illegal trade from or through such facilities. This is because, at the Parties recognise, 'illegal trade in specimens of nearly all these species has escalated and further threatens their long-term survival in the wild'. Working to prevent parts and derivatives entering illegal trade from Asian big cat breeding facilities is not enough though. The fourteenth Conference of the Parties recognised this. That is why they set out a clear requirement that 'Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers'. It is also why they put out a clear, simple and robust statement that 'tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives'. The Secretariat has confirmed that the requirement and statement within Decision 14.69 are both still valid. The fact that they have been neglected for sixteen months since CoP16 due to a basic administrative or interpretational error is bad enough. If that situation is allowed to persist until the next 'battle of the words' over Decision 14.69 at CoP17 in 2016 that would be a massive failure. In the circumstances the writer strongly encourages the Standing Committee to adopt the recommendations in this report in addition to those already proposed elsewhere under this Agenda item. 10. Additional and photographic evidence concerning the lion bone trade In their report at SC65 Doc. 38, Annex 1 the Secretariat's consultants quite correctly advise that: 77 http://cites.org/sites/default/files/notif/E-Notif-2013-037.pdf 78 http://cites.org/sites/default/files/notif/E-Notif-2013-037-A.pdf
  26. 26. 26 In recent years South Africa has reported the export of large quantities of lion bone sourced from captive animals to China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam (...). This is of concern for several reasons. Illegal trade in lion body parts for medicinal purposes is considered a threat to African lion populations (...) as well as to the small population in India’s Gir forest (...). Legal international trade in bone reported as from captive-bred lions could serve as a cover for illegally wild-sourced lion parts. Secondly, it is very difficult to distinguish whole lion bones from tiger bones (Nowell 200079 ), and particularly if the bones are processed into some form of derivative product (...). This look- alike issue presents a significant challenge for government authorities seeking to enforce CITES restrictions on commercial trade in tiger bone and other Asian big cats listed in CITES Appendix I. Finally, the use of lion bone perpetuates the consumption of big cats for tonic or medicinal purposes (…)80 . The Secretariat's consultants then go on to set out, at Figure 29 of their report, the trade figures from the CITES Trade database for imports of lion 'bones' from South Africa by China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam for the period 2009-2012 inclusive. The writer is obliged to point out that, in addition to the imports of lion bones set out in the Secretariat's consultants' report, China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam also imported the following numbers of lion 'bodies' and 'skeletons' from South Africa over the same period: 2009 2010 2011 2012 China - 8 16 12 Lao People's Democratic Republic 80 - - 49 Viet Nam - - - 72 Table 1: Tiger Range Country imports of lion 'bodies' from South Africa from 2009-2012 inclusive (CITES Trade Database) 2009 2010 2011 2012 China - - 2 2 Lao People's Democratic Republic 5 130 496 108 Viet Nam - 91 - 8 Table 2: Tiger Range Country imports of lion 'skeletons' from South Africa from 2009-2012 inclusive (CITES Trade Database) That amounts to an additional 1,079 dead lions in trade over the same period. Further, the above figure does not include the additional imports from South Africa by China, Lao People's Democratic and Viet Nam, over the same period, of 217 lion 'trophies', 108 lion 79 Supra note 42 80 Supra note 34
  27. 27. 27 'skins', 33 lion 'skulls' and 93 'live' lions. Evidence of these can also be found on the CITES Trade Database. The majority of the lion exports set out by the Secretariat's consultants and above are reported, certainly by South Africa, as having come from captive bred sources within South Africa. The South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs ('the Minister') previously reported on some of this trade in March 2011, in response to official Parliamentary questioning. At that time the Minister referred to 327 lion 'carcasses' having been exported during 2009 and 201081 . Later, in April 2011, the Minister confirmed that these 327 lion carcasses were all exported from South Africa to the Lao People's Democratic Republic82 . When asked about exports of lion 'skeletons' the Minister responded, in June 2011, by advising that permits were issued for the export of 85 lion 'carcasses' to Lao People's Democratic Republic in 2009 and 171 lion 'skeletons' to Lao People's Democratic Republic in 201083 . In August 2011 the Minister confirmed that these 171 lion ‘skeletons’ were included within her March 2011 figure of 235, for lion ‘carcasses’ exported to Lao People's Democratic Republic in 201084 . The Minister also acknowledged in August 2011 that the term ‘carcasses’, being inconsistent with the terminology used by CITES, should not have been used. The Minister advised that reporting would be standardised in terms of the CITES reporting guidelines moving forwards85 . Further, the Minister also confirmed her understanding in August 2011 that the term ‘skeleton’ in the context of CITES refers to ‘substantially whole skeletons’86 . Importantly, this confirmed that at least 171 of the 235 lion ‘carcasses’ exported from South Africa to Lao People's Democratic Republic in 2010, as well as all other lion 'skeletons' exported from South Africa from 2009 onwards, were indeed ‘substantially whole skeletons’. In addition, evidence from the CITES Trade Database confirms that 711 of the 842 lion 'skeletons' set out in Table 2 above were exported with purpose code 'T' (i.e. export for commercial purposes) with the remainder exported with the 'Hunting trophy' purpose code, 'H'. Finally in August 2011, the Minister also separately provided details of the names of the exporters and importers for each lion bone export consignment from South Africa to Lao PDR in 2009 and 201087 . Exporter Details The exporter named most often by the Minister was 'Mr JJ van der Westhuizen (Letsatsi la Africa)'. Mr van der Westhuizen was at the centre of an early lion bone trade permit scandal in South Africa when he was granted a permit to sell lion bones from his Letsatsi la Africa Wildlife and Predator Park (‘Letsatsi la Africa’) on 1 December 200988 . 81 https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/parliamentary_updates/question259.pdf 82 https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/parliamentary_updates/question1134.pdf 83 https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/parliamentary_updates/question1343.pdf 84 https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/parliamentary_updates/question1733.pdf 85 Id. 86 Id. 87 https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/parliamentary_updates/question1734.pdf 88 http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Anger-over-lion-bone-sales-20091210
  28. 28. 28 Letsatsi la Africa and the van der Westhuizen family also featured in a previous ‘Carte Blanche’ television program in South Africa that looked into the issue of the lion bone trade. In this program Ronelle van der Westhuizen confirmed that Letsatsi la Africa was (and almost certainly still is) involved in the export of lion bones from South Africa. At the time she was filmed, she confirmed that Letsatsi la Africa were currently "...busy with a big sending that needs to go out". Whilst the Minister’s information provided no quantities against each of the exporters named, as mentioned, Letsatsi la Africa was the exporter who she named most often. Ronelle van der Westhuizen’s comment provided further indicative evidence suggesting that Letsatsi la Africa was behind the bulk of the lion bone, carcass and skeleton exports from South Africa from 2009, 2010 and beyond. More recently, it has also emerged that Tam Safaris in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province is also a large exporter in this respect89 . Importer Details With regard to the importers of lion bones and skeletons in Lao People's Democratic Republic, the importer named most often by the Minister was 'Vixay Keosovang'. Vixay Keosavang is understood to be the head of the so called 'Xaysavang network' in Lao People's Democratic Republic90 of which a ‘key figure’ in the company, Chumlong Lemtongthai, was arrested over the illegal rhino horn scandal in July 201191 . In November 2012 Chumlong Lemtongthai was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to smuggling rhino horn92 . In Court it is reported that: Lemtongthai said that he came to South Africa after the director of Laotian exports company Xasavanga sent him to this country "to enquire about the purchasing of lion bones"93 . Vixay Keosavang, who has been described as the “single largest known illegal wildlife trafficker in Asia”94 , remains a free man. Based in Lao People's Democratic Republic with purported connections to influential people, he is considered largely untouchable95 . Despite the lack of precise figures per transaction, from the evidence confirming Vixay Keosavang's involvement in the lion bone trade and the numbers involved in the Xaysavang network's endangered species trading generally, it seems probable that the Xaysavang network received the majority of the dead lion skeletons and parts exported from South Africa to Lao PDR from 2009, 2010 and beyond. New Information The above conclusion is supported by evidence that the writer has seen in the form of a translation (from Vietnamese) of a conversation with Vixay Keosavang that apparently took place late in 2013. This has been passed to INTERPOL and, based on the evidence seen by the writer, it is the writer's personal belief that it is genuine. In the circumstances it is the 89 http://www.pressreader.com/bookmark/FK51ZEOP8Y51/TextView 90 http://eia-international.org/vixay-keosavang-an-untouchable-kingpin-of-wildlife-crime 91 http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Hawks-Sars-net-trafficking-kingpin-20110710 92 http://mg.co.za/article/2012-11-09-conviction-deals-blow-to-rhino-horn-syndicate 93 http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2012/11/06/rhino-kingpin-guilty 94 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/1m-bounty-on-the-pablo-escobar-of- animal-traffickings-head-9069547.html 95 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/world/asia/notorious-figure-in-animal-smuggling-beyond- reach-in-laos.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=global-home&
  29. 29. 29 writer's personal view that INTERPOL should locate, obtain and verify the footage from which this translation is apparently derived so they can analyze it and have their own official translation made. INTERPOL have confirmed that the information set out below is acceptable for release in this report. From the conversation translation seen by the writer, Vixay Keosavang apparently confirmed that: - Lion bone trading was his main source of business towards the end of 2013, within which he apparently sells lion skeletons in three 'classes'. His 'first class' skeletons are essentially fully intact, including the skull. He was purportedly selling these at a rate of 22,000 Thai baht per skeleton towards the end of 2013. His 'second class' lion skeletons do not include the skull but do include virtually all other bones. These were apparently being sold late in 2013 at a rate of 18,000 Thai baht per skeleton. Finally, his 'third class' lion skeletons do not include the skull and are missing other bones also. These were apparently being sold at a rate of 15,000 Thai baht towards the end of 2013. - He only currently sells lion bones and skeletons to, primarily three, Vietnamese clients from Viet Nam's Ha Tinh province and he only orders lion bones and skeletons when they place an order with him first. These clients apparently purchase approximately 10 tonnes of lion bones and skeletons from him every year that he transports to the Vietnamese border for them. - His Vietnamese clients from Ha Tinh province use lion bones in tiger bone 'cake' as '(…) there is almost no different between lion bone and tiger bone' and only their tiger bone cake 'cook' can tell the difference. Figure 19: Tiger bone 'cake' on sale in a hotel shop in Hanoi, 2013. The main ingredient could well be captive bred African lion from South Africa, fueling and further stimulating demand for tiger products - He can also source tiger bone but this would take longer to obtain even though he apparently confirmed he is friends with one or more of the owners of the Thakhek tiger farm and apparently also confirmed that he has his own tiger farm that contained 30 live tigers towards the end of 2013.
  30. 30. 30 - Although he had not done so for nearly three years, he could purportedly facilitate, as a middle man in terms of shipping and paperwork, import of wild Malayan tigers (Panthera tigris Jacksoni) from Malaysia and / or captive bred tigers from Thailand into the Lao People's Democratic Republic. These are apparently cut into three pieces for transport by car, with one or two tigers being the average per shipment, but the purchaser(s) would have to purchase from the Thai and / or Malaysian dealers directly. Transport of whole tigers could also purportedly be arranged into Viet Nam through one of his contacts at a rate of approximately U$4,000 per 100 kilograms of tiger. - His main lines of trade towards the end of 2013 were lion bone, turtle, snake, lizards and pangolin trading. As illustrated, this tiger bone 'cake' is well documented in trade in South-east Asia with one method of consumption apparently being to dissolve slices in rice wine that is then drunk afterwards. Figure 20: Rice wine being poured over slices of tiger bone 'cake' Figure 21: Tiger bone 'cake' dissolving in rice wine
  31. 31. 31 Figure 22: Stirring tiger bone 'cake' in rice wine to assist dissolving process prior to drinking Taken together the evidence set out above strongly suggests that the substantial trade in lion bones and skeletons from South Africa to Asia since 2008 genuinely is feeding, fueling and stimulating demand for products containing the parts of tigers and other Asian big cats in the region. The South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs was asked as far back as February 2010 whether she would consider banning the export of lion bones and if not, why not. She responded to this question (No. 123) on 1 March 2010 stating: No. The banning of the export of lion bones will only be considered if the export has a negative impact on the survival of the species in the wild. This is not currently the case96 . Four years later in February 2014 the Minister was asked: Whether, with reference to her reply to question 123 on 1 March 2010 (details furnished), she will now consider banning the export of lion bones, skeletons and carcasses, owing to the negative impact that this trade is having on the world’s few remaining wild tigers, as these lion bones are being passed off as tiger bone cake and tiger wine, thereby fuelling and sustaining the demand for products containing wild tiger bones; if not, why not, given the evidence (details furnished); if so, what steps will she take?97 Again, the Minister replied: No. As indicated in my reply on question 123 on 1 March 2010, the banning of the export of lion bones will only be considered if the export has a negative impact on the survival of lions in the wild. The Department of Environmental Affairs has not been provided with evidence that lion bone is traded as tiger bone. The lion bones, skeletons and carcasses, which are exported from South Africa, are by-products of the lion hunting industry. Lion hunting is regulated in terms of provincial and national legislation, and is sustainable at this point; and the majority of lions hunted in South Africa originate from captive breeding operations. Less than 5% of lion hunts conducted in South Africa targets wild lions. Utilisation of lion within South 96 Question No. 123 at: http://www.pmg.org.za/questions-and-replies/2010/02/24/questions-replies-no-101- 125 97 Question No. 240 at: http://www.pmg.org.za/questions-and-replies/2014/03/10/water-environmental- affairs
  32. 32. 32 Africa’s national parks is not allowed, thus effectively 67% of the free roaming lions within South Africa is strictly protected98 . With respect, this approach is unhelpful and is either naïve, ill informed or both. In terms of fueling and stimulating demand for their parts, the trade in lion bones and skeletons from South Africa to Asia poses a far greater threat to wild tigers and, as the Secretariat's consultants correctly point out, the Asian lions in India's Gir forest than it currently does to Africa's wild lions. The Secretariat's consultants recommended in their report that: The Lao PDR and Viet Nam should also be requested to clarify the purpose for recent sizeable imports of lion bone from South Africa99 . The Secretariat did not see fit to transpose that recommendation into its own recommendations for the Standing Committee at this sixty-fifth meeting but it is hoped that the evidence set out above will encourage the Standing Committee to make such a request in any event. In the circumstances: It is recommended that the Standing Committee request Viet Nam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic to provide a report to the Secretariat, by 1 June 2015, clarifying the purpose(s) for which their substantial imports of lion 'bodies', 'bones' and 'skeletons' from South Africa since 2008 were used, for consideration by the Standing Committee at SC66. In addition, in light of the evidence set out above, given the apparent risks posed to tigers and other Asian big cats by the trade in lion parts from South Africa to Asia: It is recommended that the Standing Committee urge South Africa to suspend all exports of lion parts to China, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam until further notice; and It is recommended that the Standing Committee urge China, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam to suspend all imports of lion parts from South Africa until further notice. 11. Recommendations As mentioned above, the writer agrees with the Environmental Investigation Agency's proposed amendments of the Secretariat's recommendations in SC65 Doc. 38 and also with their additional recommendations in their briefing document for the present meeting100 . The only exceptions to this are where the writer's recommendations with regard to Decision 14.69 differ slightly in terms of approach. To conclude therefore, the writer's own recommendations for the Standing Committee at this sixty-fifth meeting are collated below for convenience in the hopes that they will be of assistance to the Standing Committee: It is recommended that the Standing Committee instructs the Secretariat to transfer Decision 14.69 from the list of Decisions superseded after CoP16 to the list of all valid Decisions still in effect after CoP16 forthwith, with an accompanying and robust Notification to the Parties from the Secretariat confirming to them that Decision 14.69 remains fully valid in terms of the requirements set out within it. 98 Id. 99 Supra note 35 100 Supra note 2
  33. 33. 33 It is recommended that the Standing Committee instructs the Secretariat to re-issue, within the above mentioned Notification to the Parties, the requirement from Notification 2012/054 that: 'All Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale are requested to fully implement Decision 14.69 in respect of the number of breeding operations and also for the total number of tigers, and report to the Secretariat on the measures implemented to comply with this Decision [by 1 June 2015 in advance of and in readiness for a full assessment of implementation of Decision 14.69 at the 66th meeting of the Standing Committee]'. It is recommended that the Standing Committee instruct the Secretariat to transpose verbatim the Annex from Notification to the Parties No. 2008/059 into a new Notification to the Parties that contains no key dates that could cause such a Notification to erroneously be marked 'Not valid'. That Notification should then remain valid until the wording of Decision 14.69 is complied with in full or moved (at which point a new Notification should be issued in identical terms to reflect the new location of those words). It is recommended that the Standing Committee request Viet Nam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic to provide a report to the Secretariat, by 1 June 2015, clarifying the purpose(s) for which their substantial imports of lion 'bodies', 'bones' and 'skeletons' from South Africa since 2008 were used, for consideration by the Standing Committee at SC66. It is recommended that the Standing Committee urge South Africa to suspend all exports of lion parts to China, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam until further notice; and It is recommended that the Standing Committee urge China, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam to suspend all imports of lion parts from South Africa until further notice. =========================================
  34. 34. 34 Annex Hargreaves, R. (2012) A Review of CITES Decision 14.69 on restricting captive tiger populations to levels supportive only to conserve wild tigers. Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society (VI), 93-114. Prepared on a pro bono basis late 2012 in the hope that it may have been of assistance at CoP16, Bangkok, March 2013
  35. 35. A Review of CITES Decision 14.69 on Restricting Captive Tiger Populations to Levels Supportive Only to Conserve Wild Tigers 93 A REVIEW OF CITES DECISION 14.69 ON RESTRICTING CAPTIVE TIGER POPULATIONS TO LEVELS SUPPORTIVE ONLY TO CONSERVE WILD TIGERS Richard Hargreaves, LLB, FCILE International Legal Correspondent WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society Following the 62nd meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) Standing Committee in July 2012 (SC62), the CITES Secretariat issued Notification to the Parties No. 2012/054 on 3 September 2012 on the “Conservation of and trade in tigers and other [CITES] Appendix-I Asian big cat species.”1 In the Notification the CITES Secretariat stated that: All [CITES] Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale are requested to fully implement Decision 14.69 in respect of the number of breeding operations and also for the total number of tigers, and report to the Secretariat on the measures implemented to comply with this Decision.2 The Secretariat also stated, inter alia, that “to enable a full assessment at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16), all Parties, and particularly range states of Asian big cats are requested to inform the Secretariat of (…) stockpiles of captive-bred or confiscated tiger body parts and derivatives; and any actions proposed to deal with the stockpiles.” The Secretariat 1 See http://www.cites.org/eng/notif/2012/E054.pdf 2 Id.
  36. 36. 94 Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Winter 2012, Vol. VI advised Parties that it “would appreciate receiving this information by 25 September 2012.”3 It is hoped that all relevant Parties submitted substantive and timely responses to the Secretariat so that the full assessment of Asian big cats at CoP16 in March 2013 can be as meaningful as possible. If not, perhaps the present article may assist the Parties with the full assessment due at CoP16, specifically in relation to implementation and compliance with CITES Decision 14.69. Decision 14.69, adopted at CITES CoP14 in 2007 and still in force at the time of writing in late 2012, states: Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.4 At the 57th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee in July 2008 it was noted by a number of attendees that there was no reporting requirement attached to Decision 14.69 and yet many of those present were of the view that reports ought to be submitted. Accordingly, the CITES Standing Committee agreed to set up a working group whose remit would be “to clarify how the implementation of Decision 14.69 might best be reported to the Committee” with the general consensus being that reports should be submitted in readiness for the 58th meeting of the Standing Committee in July 2009.5 The CITES Secretariat subsequently issued Notification to the Parties No. 2008/059 dated 8 October 2008, for which it drew upon input from the working group and to which it attached an Annex providing “information and observations that Parties may 3 Id. 4 See http://www.cites.org/eng/dec/valid15/14_66-68-69_15-70.php 5 See http://www.cites.org/eng/com/sc/57/E57-SumRec.pdf
  37. 37. A Review of CITES Decision 14.69 on Restricting Captive Tiger Populations to Levels Supportive Only to Conserve Wild Tigers 95 find of assistance in determining their response, if any, to Decision 14.69.”6 trade in the opinion of the Secretariat, may be regarded for the purposes of this Decision as referring to both domestic and international trade; intensive operations may be regarded as operations focused exclusively or primarily on the frequent production of tigers; commercial scale may be regarded as a level of production that enables a breeding operation, or is intended to enable it, to derive a substantial proportion of its revenue from the production of tigers, including, but not limited to, sale of parts and derivatives; and a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers may be regarded as a level determined solely by the objective of contributing to the long-term conservation of the species in the wild, having regard to the need to preserve the genetic diversity of existing subspecies and populations.7 The Secretariat’s guideline definition of “a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers” is particularly significant because, as Nowell and Ling noted in 2007: Reintroduction [of animals into the wild from captive- bred stock] is a laudable goal, when it is feasible, but there is no record of success with this in Tiger conservation. It has never been seriously attempted or successfully accomplished, and a review of scientific literature fails to find any advocates for it among 6 See http://www.cites.org/eng/notif/2008/E059.pdf 7 Id.
  38. 38. 96 Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Winter 2012, Vol. VI specialists with extensive experience in wild Tiger conservation.8 In the circumstances the CITES Secretariat’s reference to “having regard to the need to preserve the genetic diversity of existing subspecies and populations” was more likely guidance to the effect that affected Parties should implement measures to restrict their captive tiger populations to only those animals of known genetic lineages in recognized regional studbook programs. In addition, it is submitted that the Secretariat might also acquiesce to Parties having a minimal number of additional animals in zoos not officially involved in scientifically managed captive breeding programs, provided that those tigers’ existence in captivity could be conclusively shown to contribute “to the long-term conservation of the species in the wild.”9 Ascertaining the maximum number of tigers that the Parties could potentially need in captivity to contribute to the long-term conservation of the species in the wild, by having regard to the need to preserve the genetic diversity of existing subspecies and populations, i.e. within scientifically managed captive tiger breeding programs is comparatively straightforward. In 2010 Nyhus et al. advised that: More than 500 zoos, aquariums, and facilities are accredited by three major regional associations with managed captive tiger programs: North America’s Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), and the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA). Zoos that belong to these associations manage tigers using standards, including those governing animal health, 8 KRISTIN NOWELL & XU LING, Taming the Tiger Trade: China’s Markets for Wild and Captive Tiger Products since the 1993 Domestic Trade Ban, TRAFFIC (2007). 9 Supra note 6.
  39. 39. A Review of CITES Decision 14.69 on Restricting Captive Tiger Populations to Levels Supportive Only to Conserve Wild Tigers 97 husbandry, genetic management, conservation and education.10 The same year Kathy Traylor-Holzer explained that: Genetic management [within these scientifically managed captive tiger programs] strives to retain the same genetic variation in the captive population as that in the wild population from which it is derived.11 Holzer futher stated that most of these “captive management programs have set a viability goal of retaining at least 90% of the gene diversity of the wild population for 100 years.”12 Based on population projections using the figures for stud book animals Holzer advised, in 2010 that the global captive Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) population could reach 90% genetic diversity with genetic management and the global captive populations of Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and Malayan tigers (Panthera tigris jacksonii) could be viable in the long term with “periodic supplementation with new founders from the wild.”13 Holzer also advised around the same time that there were no “organized cooperative management programs” for Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) or Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) and, unfortunately, the South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis) captive population was not viable in the long-term with only 69% gene diversity and none remaining in the wild.14 Put simply it follows from this that the officially recognised, scientifically managed captive tiger breeding programs already had enough captive pure bred animals within their programs in 10 PHILIP J. NYHUS, ET AL., Thirteen Thousand and Counting: How Growing Captive Tiger Populations Threaten Wild Tigers, TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ron Tilson eds., 2nd ed., 2010). 11 KATHY TRAYLOR-HOLZER, The Science and Art of Managing Tigers in Captivity, TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ron Tilson eds., 2nd ed., 2010). 12 Id. 13 Id. 14 Id.
  40. 40. 98 Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Winter 2012, Vol. VI 2010 when a total of 1,118 tigers of known genetic lineage were recognised as being within such programs.15 Within this figure, Thailand was recognised as having 14 genuine pure bred Indochinese tigers of known genetic lineage in a recognized regional program (albeit not, as mentioned above, in an organized cooperative management program); China was recognised as having 67 South China tigers of known genetic lineage in captivity; North America was recognised as having a total of 267 Amur, Sumatran and Malayan tigers of known genetic lineage in captivity; and there were no tigers of known genetic lineage in captivity in Vietnam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) or Cambodia.16 Given these circumstances it is thus submitted that the only figures within the CITES Parties’ responses to Notification 2012/054 should be: 1. Updated figures for the captive bred populations referred to above; and 2. The figures for Parties’ other minimal holdings of captive bred tigers, in zoos not officially involved in scientifically managed captive breeding programs, whose existence in captivity could be conclusively shown to contribute to the long-term conservation of the species in the wild. Should the Parties refer to any captive bred tigers within their territories not falling within the above criteria, then it is thus submitted those would be references to captive-bred tigers being held in contravention of CITES Decision 14.69. Accordingly, in- line with the guidance in Notification 2008/059, any such references should be accompanied by: A strategic plan, incorporating deadlines, for the phasing-out of any intensive breeding operations 15 NYHUS, supra note 10. 16 NYHUS, supra note 10; HOLZER supra note 11.
  41. 41. A Review of CITES Decision 14.69 on Restricting Captive Tiger Populations to Levels Supportive Only to Conserve Wild Tigers 99 containing those tigers (or the conversion of such operations so that they are legitimately devoted solely to the conservation of tigers); and A policy with regard to what will happen to any surplus tigers currently being held in any such intensive breeding operations.17 And of course, these would be in addition to the requirements within Notification 2012/054 that the Parties provide the CITES Secretariat with details of any “stockpiles of captive-bred or confiscated tiger body parts and derivatives” and also with details of “any actions proposed to deal with the stockpiles.”18 If there is a good response to Notification 2012/054 it is hoped that a constructive and meaningful assessment of Parties’ implementation and compliance with Decision 14.69 can then be carried out within the full assessment of Asian Big Cats that is due to take place at CITES CoP16.19 But how should those carrying out the assessment determine which captive bred tigers, outside of scientifically managed captive breeding programs, are contributing to the long-term conservation of the species in the wild? Drawing upon the 2010 article Why Keep Tigers in Zoos? by Sarah Christie of the Zoological Society of London,20 it is submitted that (aside from personal positions on keeping tigers in captivity at all) minimal numbers of captive-bred tigers outside of scientifically managed breeding programs might conceivably contribute to the long-term conservation of the species in the wild if the legitimate zoos holding those tigers: 17 Supra note 6. 18 Supra note 1. 19 Id. 20 SARAH CHRISTIE, Why Keep Tigers in Zoos? TIGERS OF THE WORLD: THE SCIENCE, POLITICS AND CONSERVATION OF PANTHERA TIGRIS (Philip J. Nyhus & Ron Tilson eds., 2nd ed., 2010).
  42. 42. 100 Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Winter 2012, Vol. VI 1. Did their best to ensure that they only kept pure bred tigers of known genetic lineage, regardless of the fact that their tigers would not be within any of the recognised scientifically managed programs; 2. Participated in the International Species Information System (ISIS) which is a computer-based information system detailing wild animal species in captivity; 3. Kept full records and details in respect of all of their tigers and also marked each of them using microchips and / or DNA profiling; 4. Kept independently verified records of all of the births and deaths of their tigers including full details in respect of the causes of deaths of their tigers, ideally with full, independent, veterinary post mortems carried out in respect of each of them; 5. Kept independently verified records confirming how each of their tigers was disposed of after death and independent veterinary post-mortem; 6. Had in place and complied with stringent professional standards in terms of governing the health and genetic management of their animals; 7. Provided enrichment for their tigers and maintained the utmost standards in terms of the husbandry and welfare of their animals; 8. Established and/or provided funding for projects in the field, with a view to helping to preserve the few remaining populations of wild tigers, for example through funding scientific research, paying for forest rangers within key areas of tiger habitat, paying for camera traps and / or funding campaigns aimed at reducing demand for products containing parts or derivatives of tigers; and
  43. 43. A Review of CITES Decision 14.69 on Restricting Captive Tiger Populations to Levels Supportive Only to Conserve Wild Tigers 101 9. Only displayed their tigers to the public in such a way as to not cause any stress to their animals and with the proviso that any such display of their animals to the public was done responsibly for education purposes and raising awareness of the plight of tigers in the wild. Nyhus estimated that, in 2010, the total number of captive- bred tigers in captivity throughout the world, outside of the official scientifically managed breeding programs but within zoos that might conceivably fit within the parameters set out above to be 561. Nyhus references the zoos within the official breeding programs as Zoos managed as opposed to Zoos not managed. These included 196 in North America, an estimated 50 in China, 16 in Thailand, 6 in Cambodia, 2 in Vietnam and none in Lao PDR.21 Of the 10,485 other captive-bred tigers that Nyhus estimated to be in captivity throughout the world in 2010, referred to as private meaning privately owned tigers, they estimated that 5,160 were in China; 4,428 were in North America, 775 were in Thailand, 50 were in Indonesia, 41 were in Vietnam, 17 in Cambodia, and 14 in Europe and Russia.22 These are the tigers that Decision 14.69 was passed to address and these are the tigers whose numbers should have gone down between 2010 and the dates of the Parties responses to Notification 2012/054. As Nyhus explained: The unmanaged tiger population is a different creature altogether. They are no longer Amur or Sumatran or Bengal tigers. They are tiger soup. It is improbable, and, in fact, undesirable that any will ever be released into the wild, despite the argument by some owners of China’s tiger farms to the contrary, and thus they remain genetically indistinct large predators in cages with little or no value to the future of their kind. As 21 NYHUS, supra note 10. 22 Id.
  44. 44. 102 Journal of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society, Winter 2012, Vol. VI tigers they have no worth, but for sellers of their parts they are worth a fortune.23 Unfortunately, based on the status updates below (provided for relevant CITES Parties to whom Decision 14.69 is likely to apply) it seems the prospects are not good for a finding by CITES CoP16 in March 2013 that significant progress has been made by Parties in terms of implementation and compliance with Decision 14.69. China In my 2011 article, that focused on China’s tiger farms and considered a number of instances in which China’s tiger farmers could give cause for China to be in breach of Decision 14.69 (as well as other provisions of CITES), has already highlighted the growth in China’s population of captive-bred tigers held in private tiger farms to nearly 6,000 with the potential to breed an additional thousand tigers every year.24 It also noted the indicative evidence that came to light suggesting that China may have opened up a limited domestic trade in the skins of tigers and other Asian big cat skins, with publication by China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) of Notice #206 dated 29 September 2007.25 Given the clear guideline definition that, in the opinion of the CITES Secretariat, trade in the context of Decision 14.69 may be regarded as referring to both domestic and international trade26 this would represent a flagrant breach of Decision 14.69 by the Chinese government itself in addition to the likely contraventions caused by China’s tiger farmers. I do not propose to duplicate any of the content of my earlier article here; instead it is hoped that it will be sufficient to highlight the fact that, by late 2012, China had yet to provide clarification in relation to the content and provisions of SFA 23 Id. 24 RICHARD HARGREAVES, China’s Tiger Farms Much Law but Little Justice, V JOURNAL OF THE WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY (2011). 25 Id. 26 Supra note 6.

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