Endangered species laws – the epitome of double standards

By Karl Ammann – Time Magazine ‘Hero of the Environment’

Well on the way to climate breakdown and the sixth mass extinction of species on our planet, you would be hard pressed to know there have been international laws in place since 1975 with the aim of ensuring that ‘international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival’. So how are the bureaucrats who should be enforcing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) doing on that front?

Amongst other failures on their watch:

• Wild tiger numbers have halved to under 4,000 since the 1990s; 

• The South China tiger has almost certainly become extinct in the wild; 

• There has been a huge increase in Asian tiger farms despite a 2007 decision by CITES parties stating that tigers should not be bred for commercial purposes (with the suits in the CITES Secretariat having not once lifted a finger against China’s massively documented non-compliance with that decision); 

• The number of African lions nearly halved from 1993 to 2014, with just 25,000 or so now left in the wild (and yet the CITES Secretariat, bowing to pressure from the rich and influential American trophy hunting industry, still doesn’t recommend they be given the top level of ‘protection’ under CITES);  

• The elephant population of Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve dropped from 100,000 in the 1970s to 13,000 in 2013; 

• The illegal ivory trade increased by close to 300% between 1998 and 2011; 

• The illegal rhino horn trade in 2014 reached its highest levels since the early 1990s; 

• There was a 9,300% increase in rhino poaching in South Africa between 2007 and 2014; and 

• The western black rhinoceros was declared officially extinct in 2011. 

CITES itself is comparatively well drafted, the problem is with the suits who should be enforcing it. Administered by the UN, time and again we see them bowing to commercial interests and, without being xenophobic, window dressing to protect runaway Chinese consumption of the planet’s few remaining endangered species.

I’ve been trying to get the CITES Secretariat to properly implement and enforce their international, endangered species laws for decades. With English wildlife lawyer Richard Hargreaves helping me out in his spare time for free since 2011 we’re now ready to publish our first book, ‘Slave Apes’, exposing the rot and double standards within the Secretariat.

With my pictures and evidence from the front lines and Richard’s words and analysis we have everything we need to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst case of double standards imaginable when it comes to protecting endangered species. Put simply, this has left the pair of us unable to rule out FIFA level corruption amongst the very bureaucrats who should be overseeing the full implementation and enforcement of the world’s only international endangered species laws.

In short, in ‘Slave Apes’ we’re talking about the suits at CITES punishing third world Guinea for illegally exporting dozens of live, baby chimps from the wild to lives of squalor, horrendous conditions and remorseless commercial exploitation in Chinese zoos. That’s correct but the problem is we have all the evidence proving this trade was instigated at the Chinese end of the supply chain and that the CITES Secretariat have not just failed to lift a finger against China in that respect but actually protected them from punishment and having to place these chimps in sanctuaries as required under CITES.

Our first book could just as easily have covered the CITES Secretariat’s failings and protection of China when it comes to the massive growth in their tiger farming industry or, similarly, the massive growth in the trade in lion bones from South Africa to Asia (where they’re passed off as tiger, thereby increasing hunting pressure on the world’s few remaining wild tigers). It’s just that in ‘Slave Apes’ we have the strongest, most incontrovertible evidence against the CITES bureaucrats possible

Finally, although I’m not UK based, if you would be interested in lobbying the UK’s CITES officials to call for an end to the rot and double standards within the CITES Secretariat in Geneva I understand they’re based at Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AH.

Keep up the great work!

‘And the whole of creation is waiting for us to become human’

(Translation of a graffiti inscription by poet ‘Johannes’, Lake Constance, Switzerland)

With the suits at CITES being administered by the UN, the one problem we have with ‘Slave Apes’ is finding a publisher brave enough to publish. So this is basically a call-out on the off-chance that anyone involved with XR can recommend a literary agent or, ideally, a publisher we may not have tried who may be interested in getting ‘Slave Apes’ published. If you know of anyone please contact me at karl@karlammann.ch

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