Quo Vadis

SUCo-SA & CITES

Home is the sailor, home from the sea.  And home, safely, are our delegates from CoP 19 at Panama.  We welcome them back with open arms and extend our congratulations to them all for trying so hard to do what is right.

I have attended three such conventions. I stood back from this year’s adventure, however, with all the best intentions in the world – but, largely, to allow our team to experience the journey without preconceptions. Now our people are back and they will be able to judge for themselves just what they actually achieved; and what they had hoped to achieve but did not.

They had Eugene and Helene Lapointe to guide them, however, so they have been in the very best of hands. Eugene is a past Secretary General of the convention. In the end, however, each one of our people will generate his or her own personal thoughts about their trip and how they believe they can and should travel along the road ahead.

In writing this report, it is not my intention to pour cold water on my colleagues’ excitement about having just participated in such an auspicious event. Will they be excited about that participation?

Of course they will!  I know I was – every time! Now, however, they have the experience of one convention under their belts and that gives them a perspective about CITES that they never had before. Now they will know better what can be achieved and what cannot be achieved when attending what I consider to be this very sad and iniquitous event.

Next time, they will know better what to expect.  And those expectations are what will colour their attitude towards the convention-as-a-whole in the years ahead.

Every time I came back from a convention meeting I was personally very deeply and very negatively affected. I was always desperate about the overwhelmingly fraudulent activities of all the animal rightist NGOs that I met; by the corruption that I perceived everywhere around me in the halls of the convention; by the laissez-faire attitude of the Secretariat consequent upon the power of the accredited NGOs’ bank accounts; and by the probability that nobody (like me and/or like you guys – honest people) would be able to achieve anything worthwhile at the convention under the conditions pertaining.

Every time I came away from the conventions that I attended, therefore, I was left in the certain belief that the animal rights NGOs were in firm control of the body’s proceedings.  And I wondered just what the hell I thought I was going to be able to achieve under those conditions.

My prime thought was: How can I break the iron grip that the animal rightists have on the convention’s proceedings? The answer – every time – was the same.  I couldn’t break it at all! And I firmly believe, now, that it cannot be broken. There is just too much money involved! And that is why I believe that only a court conviction proving criminal involvement will have any impact.

By comparison to the slick mobsters with whom I was required to mix at the convention – in my opinion organized criminals all – I was a mere country bumpkin from darkest Africa. And I am sure that that fact shone through loud and clear- clear as daylight.

In1989, the accredited animal rightist NGOs at Cop7, collectively, contrived with the help of the UNEP Secretary-General, Mostafa Tolba – to have Eugene Lapointe sacked from his position as Secretary General – for (so they alleged) ‘exceeding his authority’.

Eugene was removed from his post in 1990 but was later cleared of all the charges that had been made against him by the NGOs.  But, by then, somebody else had been appointed to his position as Secretary General. So, sadly, he lost his chosen career! And CITES lost an incumbent who was exactly the ‘right person’ for the position of Secretary-General.

Do not, therefore, disregard the power that the animal rightist NGOs have at CITES! And don’t disregard the influence that the American administration can have, either, and does have, on the same proceedings (see below).

Something else of importance – and of great significance – happened at that time, too. And it forewarns us all about just what kind of forces are operational in the CITES arena all the time.

IN BRIEF: An American delegation (comprising several senior American government officials) journeyed to Nairobi, Kenya, in July 1989. They came especially to interview Richard Leaky who was then the Director of the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS). They asked him how many elephant tusks he had in his KWS storeroom. Twenty tons he told them. He then asked the Americans why they wanted to know that figure?

Image: independent.co.uk

And they told him, up-front: “Because we want you to burn those tusks.”

“And why would I do that?” Leaky responded almost in jest.

“Because we will pay you the going price for the ivory,” Leaky was told, “and because, if you comply with our wishes, we are authorised to extend to you an extra ten-million- American-dollar-loan, payable over the next ten years at a very low interest rate, with the specific purpose of enabling you to develop non-consumptive game-viewing  tourism infrastructures in Kenya.”

“Now tell me why you want me to burn the ivory – if it can be made to burn, that is?” Leaky asked them pointedly.

“Oh, it can be made to burn, all right,” the Americans assured Leaky, and they told him roughly how they believed that could be done.

“And why do you want me to burn it?” he asked them again.

“We want you to burn it because the American administration wants to create an original and unforgettable public spectacle before the 1989 Cop 7, CITES meeting.”

The American delegation apparently believed, Leaky told me, that such an eye-catching extravaganza was necessary to encourage the sovereign-state delegates at CITES Cop7, to voluntarily vote for what they, the Americans, called ‘the proposed international ivory trade ban’ that was on the Cop 7 agenda. And they admitted that it was the NGO fraternity – the Animal Rights Brigade – not the American government – who would be openly motivating for the ivory trade ban and for upgrading the elephant to ‘endangered species’ status.

They wanted the whole world to be sufficiently exhilarated by the ivory-burning extravaganza, they explained, to voluntarily support both the ivory trade ban proposal and the elephant status upgrading. And, the Americans told Leaky, they were working very closely with their American NGO co-conspirators at Cop 7 to bring this all about.

They also told Leaky that America wanted the whole world to understand (to believe) that the motivation for the ivory trade ban, and the motivation for the elephant status upgrade to “endangered species”, were both entirely “African initiatives”. They wanted THIS message to come through loud and clear.

And they wanted the world to believe that America had had nothing to do with either proposal. Yet it was the American administration – without any urging – that had given birth to both these ideas!

Leakey’s last stand: The final battle of Africa’s elephant king …
africageographic.com

THIS is the raw truth of the matter. In 1989, therefore, the American administration was running in tight-harness, not with the legitimate sovereign states at CITES, but with the accredited American animal rightist NGOs who had been appointed (by America) to be the principle agitators at Cop 7.

Where did all this information come from?  It came from the mouth of Richard Leaky himself, who (proudly) passed it on to me during a private conversation when we shared a public platform at Wits University in Johannesburg, +/- 1993.

After his revelations to me that day, and as the months passed, Leaky gradually arranged more and more of the ivory-burning-mantle onto his own shoulders. Thereafter he never said another word about America’s primary involvement – until he had himself claimed full ownership of the “burn-the-ivory” idea.

But, in fact, he was not the fabricator at all. Nevertheless, the whole world came to believe that burning-the-ivory was Leaky’s idea.  But again, I say, it was not! It was the brain-child of ‘someone’ in America with senior government connections.

Unfortunately, Leaky never revealed to me just WHO the Americans were who presented him with this proposal. I once thought that that ‘someone’ – the person who contrived the whole scam – was a member of the US Fish and Wildlife Service but I could never confirm that. I later came to believe, however, that the American delegation that visited Leaky in 1989 was “a more senior government representation” than the USF&WS.

So where does this information leave us?

It leaves us in the extraordinary situation of knowing that the most powerful nation on earth (The USA) was working (in 1989), hand in glove, with some of the richest and most powerful NGOs at CITES, to achieve wildlife preservation objectives of which our SUCo-SA group strongly disapproves.

And nobody can do anything about it! If the American government were/are truly behind the ‘burn-the-ivory’ ideal (and I KNOW they started it all) – nobody will EVER be able to remove them from the consequent CITES quagmire!

And if the American government is truly our real adversary in this matter, be sure to understand that anything we try to do to remove animal rights criminality from the convention will be farting against thunder. I can assure you that the Al Capone-style leadership of this initiative all proudly fly the American flag.

This year, the Zimbabwe delegation came away from Cop19 frothing at the mouth and breathing fire-and-brimstone – declaring that Zimbabwe was going to leave CITES altogether.

These were the sentiments that I have so often myself breathed out of frustration – in the name of South Africa – but it never happened. Nevertheless, it SHOULD have happened because the NGO machinery at CITES IS ‘organized crime’ (in terms of the American RICO Act). This by definition and in practice!

And no official national delegation should ever be forced to fraternize with these the most despicable people (organised criminals) in all humanity.

The articles of CITES are conspicuous by their original transparency.  There is nothing difficult to understand about the convention’s ideology – or its original purpose – upon promulgation in 1975.

Many of the countries of this world – that now make up the sovereign state membership of the convention – had valuable wildlife resources which they, originally, purported to want to ‘utilise’ (to trade) on a sustainable basis. And CITES was created, specifically, to enable that trade to happen – legally and in good order.

This was all ‘in line’ with the provisions of the World Conservation Strategy (1980) on which the world’s wildlife management philosophies are all based.

For this to happen (after 1975) – seemingly – all CITES had to do was to write out equitable trading laws that the sovereign states of the world (the would-be traders) would agree to abide by; and the convention’s secretariat would act as the policeman who enforced the consequent trade agreements.

Seemingly simple! Why then has this mutually beneficial arrangement gone awry? It went wrong because criminal elements in the animal rights brigade determined how to annually make millions of US dollars out of the CITES machinery and, over the years, the convention has allowed itself to become their administrative shield.

My good and honest friend, Eugene Lapointe, a former Secretary General of CITES, has made it known that he believes CITES can be made whole and honest again; the remedy being, he says, is that we contrive to fix those aspects of the convention that, over the years, have become broken.  Maybe he is right!

Maybe he is wrong!

If, however, that is the only way to bring clarity and honesty back into this den of iniquity, then I must point out that only someone like Eugene Lapointe can make that happen. Why?

Because not only has he the honest will to WANT to make it happen, he has the knowledge with regards to HOW to make it happen – if it is at all possible? So, those of you who want to try to make this happen should become attached to Eugene’s stable.

But I have my doubts. And I am not at all sure that attempting to “fix” the woes at CITES is the best way forward!

CONSIDER: Two-thirds of the huge number of accredited NGOs at CITES are animal rightist in orientation; and the millions of US dollars that they make for themselves by manipulating the articles of CITES in their propaganda, is just too much money for them to risk losing. It is an impossible illusion, therefore, to believe they can be persuaded to cooperate with the likes of SUCo-SA to execute an operation the purpose of which is to patch up the convention and make it whole again.

It is a sad state of affairs that the world’s honest people find themselves in, if they truly believe – with such a massive and well-heeled army of adversaries fighting us all the way – that that accomplishment is at all possible. Be under no other persuasion than that the animal rightists NGOs are not concerned about making CITES work properly again. Ever again!

Their only concern is to keep their CITES-Cash-Cow functioning as long as they can!

SUCo, anyway, will forever want the animal rightist NGOs to be totally expelled from the convention. We know we cannot work with these people!

So, a patch-up job is not going to work for us either. To be satisfied, we will need for CITES to return to its honest 1975 values and nothing less. This will require, therefore, the expulsion from CITES of all accredited NGOs that lack the ‘right credentials.’ THAT, however, is unlikely to happen.

And, what can we then do with the American sovereign-state opposition. Is not “America” one of ‘them’?

What South Africa wants and needs is for CITES ‘to work’ – as it was intended to work – to help us market our sustainably and legally produced wildlife and wildlife products: such as, our captive-bred rhino horn; captive bred lion bones; captive-bred crocodile skins; captive bred exotic parrots; game-ranch-produced venison and game skins; and elephant ivory and elephant hide (the by-products of legitimate elephant management practices).

CONSIDER: None of this is happening. And it is unlikely to happen any time in the near future. In all these respects CITES – and the total lack of understanding and cooperation from our South African Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries – is inhibiting all these legitimate wildlife trade possibilities to the detriment of our country’s economy.

In my opinion, therefore, neither CITES nor our Minister of the Environment, deserve the support of any reasonable and responsible South African.

Consequently, I believe we need to change what we are capable of changing in this confusing salmagundi.

FOR EXAMPLE: Minister Creecy can only be removed by way of political pressure. So let’s apply that pressure!

And South Africa can remove itself from CITES (if it can generate the political will to do so) simply by joining Zimbabwe (and whatever other SADC countries have the gumption to do likewise) by resigning from the convention.

The alternative is that we continue to waste our energies on the totally unproductive treadmill that we have been tramping on for the last 47 years – on which conditions for success have just got worse and worse and worse.

The first and honest step in this direction would be to ascertain just WHAT we were able to achieve at Cop 19 in Panama that we were unable to achieve in years gone by? Did CITES 2022, for example, produce ‘something’ for us that was just one step further forward in anything that we might have achieved during previous conventions?

If South Africa is to attain ‘success’ in its new and innovative ‘commercial’ wildlife industry we are going to have to – in their every sphere of influence – get rid of the animal rightist NGOs that threaten our existence; that impede our progress; and that are busy destroying CITES itself. To do THAT we are going to have to either expel the animal rightist NGOs from the convention; or we are going to have to remove ourselves.  Either one or the other!

In my opinion, CITES is a hot-bed of very real criminal activity. The NGOs are all involved in making fraudulent money by way of telling propaganda lies, then soliciting donations from the public to make those manufactured lies go away. That means they are up-to-their-ears in racketeering. And, when you give the matter any thought at all, it quickly becomes clear that the convention is, actually, not really worth ‘saving’. Indeed, I truly believe that it cannot now be saved!

I have now said my piece! With regards to CITES I have nailed my colours to the mast! And our new ‘boys on the block’ – good and energetic men and women all – are now going to have make up their minds about the way forward.  Are they going to continue to steer the South African wildlife conservation-ship laboriously forward, pushing their way through all the CITES ‘plastic-pollution’ that is blocking their passage; or are they going to find another way round the rubbish that surrounds us? Only time will tell!

Whatever their decision might be, I wish them the best of luck.

My quotation, Quo Vadis, is the title of this article. Where are we going? It asks. Where, indeed? If we continue on the same road we have been travelling on for the last 47 years, we are going to be going exactly nowhere!

Ron Thomson.  CEO – TGA

 

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Ron Thomson

I am NOT a ‘trophy hunter’ - and never have been. I am not involved in the trophy hunting safari business. I am also not a game rancher. But I have ‘administratively controlled’ professional hunters and safari outfitters in my capacity as a government game warden. I am an 80 year old ex-game warden with 60 years of continuous experience in hands-on wildlife management, and national park management, in Africa (1959 to 2019). In breakdown, I have 24 years experience in the management of national parks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - and in the management of the wild animal populations that lived inside those national parks; one year as the Chief Nature Conservation of the Ciskei in South Africa; three years as Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board in South Africa; and I worked for three years as a professional hunter in the South African Great Karoo (taking foreign hunters on quests for plains game trophies). I discovered, however, that professional hunting was not my forte. I worked as an investigative wildlife journalist for 30 years in South Africa. I have written fifteen books and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject of wildlife management and big game hunting in Africa. Five of my books are university-level text books on wildlife management. I am a university-trained ecologist; was a member of the Institute of Biology (London) for 20 years; and was a registered chartered biologist for the European Union for 20 years. I have VAST experience in the “management hunting” of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and hippos (as part of my official national park work in the control of problem animals); and I pioneered the capture of black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley (1964 - 1970). My university thesis was entitled: “The Factors Affecting the Survival and Distribution of Black Rhinos in Rhodesia”. Look at my personal website if you want any further details about my experience: www.ronthomsonshuntingbooks.co.za.

Ron Thomson has 270 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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