CITES Report of the Secretariat

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CoP15 Doc. 43.1



Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties

Doha (Qatar), 13-25 March 2010

Interpretation and implementation of the Convention

Species trade and conservation

asian big cats


1. This document has been prepared by the Secretariat.

2. As required in Decision 14.65, the Standing Committee reviewed this subject at its 57th and 58th meetings

(Geneva, July 2008 and July 2009) (see documents SC57 Doc. 31.1 and SC58 Doc. 33). The Committee

considered reports from the Secretariat describing its progress, and that of the Parties, in implementing the

Decisions adopted at the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (The Hague, 2007).

3. The Standing Committee noted that there had been a poor response rate by range States in submitting the

reports requested in Decision 14.65. At its 58th meeting (SC58), the Committee requested that range

States submit reports that could be considered at the 59th meeting, immediately prior to the present

meeting of the Conference of the Parties. On 22 July 2009, the Secretariat issued Notification to the

Parties No. 2009/029 calling for reports in relation to Decision 14.65 and also Decision 14.69, which refers

to captive-breeding of tigers. A deadline of 20 October 2009 was established for the submission of reports.

At the time of writing (early October) no reports had been received.

Decision 14.70

4. The Standing Committee endorsed a suggestion by the Secretariat that the tiger trade enforcement

meeting, requested in this Decision, should take the form of law enforcement intelligence training for

officials from tiger range States. Such a training course, involving specialized staff from the CITES and

Interpol Secretariats, will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 30 November to 4 December 2009.

5. This Decision also called for a conservation strategy workshop. The Government of Nepal is hosting a tiger

conservation workshop in Kathmandu from 27 to 30 October 2009, in which the CITES Secretariat will

participate and hopefully all tiger range States. The Secretariat will report orally on the outcomes of this

event at CoP15.

Global Tiger Initiative

6. As reported at SC58, the Secretariat has liaised with the World Bank and conservation organizations in

relation to the Global Tiger Initiative. The workshop described in paragraph 5 above is being held in

conjunction with the Initiative and a ministerial-level meeting is also expected to take place in Thailand in

January 2010. The Secretariat will report at CoP15 on any matters emerging from the initiative that may be

relevant to the CITES community.

Final remarks

7. The Decisions relating to Asian big cats that were adopted at CoP14 appear to have had little impact upon

the threats facing these species. Conservation concern for tigers in particular continues to increase. The

CoP15 Doc. 43.1 – p. 2

Standing Committee is likely to have limited opportunity to discuss this subject in detail at its 59th meeting.

Therefore, it will be for the Conference of the Parties to, once again, consider what can be done to

safeguard the future of one of the world’s best-known ‘flagship’ species. It is to be hoped that reports for

SC59, and discussions in the Global Tiger Initiative process, may produce ideas or possible solutions that

may help revitalize tiger conservation.

8. Many of the threats facing wild tiger populations, such as conflict between tigers, humans and livestock,

habitat loss and reduction in prey base, are matters outside the scope of the Convention. Where CITES

has a clear role is with regard to illegal trade issues. This document was prepared 10 years after the

CITES Tiger Missions Technical Team’s report was presented at the 42nd meeting of the Standing

Committee (Lisbon, 1999). The report can be viewed at:

9. Many of the Team’s conclusions and recommendations remain valid and relevant today, despite a decade

having passed. There is one significant difference, however. In 1999, countries in Europe, North America

and far-east Asia were important consumer States for specimens of tigers. In 2009, it is some tiger range

States that are now the most important consumer States and this is a very worrying development.

Ten years ago, authorities in Europe and North America were regularly seizing tiger bone medicinal

products and one country was still engaged in legal domestic trade of tiger products, which were marketed

as aphrodisiacs. Today, the skin of the tiger is highly prized in some areas, its meat is offered for human

consumption, its bones are distilled with alcohol to be drunk as a tonic and, whilst its bones are also still

sought for medicinal products, this aspect of trade seems to be greatly reduced but more specialized and

‘underground’. Captive-breeding of tigers is occurring in several range States but many of these facilities

appear to be owned and operated in a manner that would conflict with the goals expressed in

Decision 14.69. Intelligence suggesting that tigers, or their parts and derivatives, from some of these

facilities entering illegal commercial trade is growing.

10. Good enforcement work is being conducted but obviously not enough. This is particularly frustrating if one

acknowledges that illegal trade in tigers is not especially widespread. Much of it appears to be conducted

by a relatively limited number of individuals or groups and is destined for specialized markets or

consumers. Although some of these markets and consumers are clandestine in nature, they are

nonetheless open to infiltration and targeting. The Secretariat believes that much of today’s illegal trade in

tigers could be markedly reduced, if concerted efforts were made by the law enforcement community.

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

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