The CITES Controversy

THE TRUE GREEN ALLIANCE

A Public Guidance Position Statement

Subject: The CITES Controversy

(The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)

A South African Perspective

Special Note:

This paper is specifically written for the elucidation of the Chinese people. It contains information that should be read by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. It repudiates the animal rightists’ pernicious myth that there is a Chinese mafia in Africa that is orchestrating the poaching of elephants and rhinos. The very big poaching events in Africa have, in fact, all been arranged and executed by Africa’s own political elites. It explains that CITES is being used by the Western World’s animal rightist NGOs as a weapon and a tool for their own short term financial gain, and in the process they are destroying Africa’s sustainable wildlife utilisation potentials for benefiting Africa’s poor rural people. It encourages and recommends the maintenance of China’s legal markets for ivory and rhino horn; and the perpetuation of China’s unique ivory carving industry. It suggests that China and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries of Africa should negotiate the development of a Far Eastern/ Southern African wildlife market bloc for the trade in legal ivory and legal rhino horn because: CITES is corrupt: it disallows sustainable trade in many quite SAFE wild animal populations; and it has only negative consequences for Africa, for Africa’s people, and for Africa’s wildlife.

CITES, also known as The Washington Convention, is proclaimed to be a multi-lateral treaty to protect so-called endangered plants and animals. It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at an IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) meeting. Its purported aim is to ensure that the international trade in specimens of wild animals and wild plants does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild, and now accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35 000 species of wild animals and plants. The most important promise that CITES offered its members when they joined the convention, was that it would stop poaching.

The CITES protocol was concluded on 3rd March 1973. It came into force after ratification or accession by 10 sovereign states on 1st July 1975.

By 2016, the number of sovereign states that have ratified the convention – (expressed consent, approval or formal sanction), approved (officially agreed to or accepted as satisfactory), accepted (widely used, recognised or approved), acceded to (given consent, approval: agree: assent) – had increased to 183.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can accredit themselves to the CITES CoPs (Conferences of the Parties); and they can participate at every level in every debate at every CoP, but they are not allowed to vote.

Only the sovereign state Parties enjoy a vote (one vote each) which is used to generate consensus decisions for each and every item on every convention agenda. Indeed, because CITES is focussed on all aspects of the international wildlife trade, such trade actually takes place only between the 183 sovereign states members. These, therefore, are the only members that really matter.

Making a consensus decision involves approving or disapproving trade proposals that the sovereign states submit for approval by the convention. Legal trade (in select wild plants and wild animals, and/or their products) is carried out only in terms of legally-binding CITES permits.

CITES has no control over domestic wildlife trading.

This dissertation is not designed to be a text-book on how CITES works. It is necessary, however, that the general public be made aware of what CITES ‘is’; and the rudiments of how it is supposed to operate.

Upon application for membership of the CITES ‘club’, a sovereign state is obliged to:

  • Surrender to the convention, its sovereign right to trade, internationally, in its own wildlife resources; and
  • Abide by whatever consensus is determined by the 183 sovereign state members when they cast their votes.

Despite the fact trade in rhino horn was banned by CITES in 1975, and the fact that it promised to stop commercial poaching at that time, the illegal killing of Africa’s elephants and rhinos post 1975 has reached unprecedented levels, and recent illegal trade in rhino horn is at an all-time high. So, after 43 years of effort, the big experiment called CITES, no matter how good its intentions might have been in the beginning, has failed. Worse, the convention is currently having a reverse effect – a negative effect – on everything that should be happening. The TGA contends, therefore, that CITES now represents the biggest obstacle to the achievement of best practice wildlife management in Africa. To provide the facts supporting such an indictment, it is first necessary that you understand something of the convention’s history; and some pertinent facts with regard to how CITES operates in the present day and age. 

CITES CoP 17 JOHANNESBURG, 2016

It is reported that CoP17 attracted over 35 000 delegates of which less than 12 000 (34 percent) comprised non-voting elements from the sovereign states. Every single one of the 35 000 delegates, however, was a registered participant which meant, although they could not vote, they were able to participate in all the debates.

The remaining 23 000 (c.66 percent) comprised delegates from NGOs and other non-voting groups most of whom, because they had all been required to pay handsome registration fees, were present in the CITES halls most of the time.

Some NGO delegations were huge. IFAW – the International Fund for Animal ‘Welfare’ – for example, arguably the biggest animal ‘rights’ organisation in the world, registered 38 delegates. This is an example of the importance with which the international animal rights movement regards its participation in the CoPs.

CITES is the largest and oldest conservation and sustainable-use agreement in existence. Participation is ‘voluntary’ and the sovereign states that have agreed to be bound by the conditions of the convention are known as ‘Parties’.

Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, it does not take the place of national laws. This means that CITES concerns itself, or should concern itself, solely with how the international trade in wildlife and wildlife products is conducted; and with stopping the illegal trade.

A SOVEREIGN STATE’S IMPERATIVE OBLIGATIONS

Gaining membership of CITES is not difficult and may well be ‘voluntary’ but when a sovereign state signs on the dotted line, everything that applies to its commitment to the convention becomes obligatory; and, thereafter, the implications of a state ‘voluntarily’ exiting from the convention becomes practically impossible because it represents a virtual act of self-injury. This will be explained fully in the narrative that follows.

At this juncture, the question must be asked (except for the obvious – to stop poaching): for what other reason would any sovereign state want to join CITES? CITES can be likened to a social club; and people join social clubs either to contribute towards their stated and desirable goals; and/or to accrue benefits from being a member. As CITES evolved, however, participation in the convention has become less and less benign.

From its inception, sovereign states joined CITES to help stop poaching; and to stop every aspect of the illegal wildlife trade which was said to be greater in value than the illegal trade in drugs. The illegal killing of valuable wild animals (like elephants and rhinos), and the illegal harvesting of many valuable timber products, was at that time (1975) getting out of hand.

In those days there were no laws to control the international wildlife trade. Once an illegally acquired wildlife commodity, like an elephant tusk or a rhino horn, was carried across its international boundary, the producer-country lost control over it; and nobody else thereafter was legally obliged to do anything about it.

By 1975, every country in Africa understood the difficulties involved in controlling the illegal wildlife trade because they all suffered from it, and they were clamouring for help. It was on the particular promise that CITES would stop the poaching of elephants and rhinos, however, that caused those sovereign states in Africa that were honest, to want to join the convention; and there was no more powerful an inducement for them to do this than that single pledge.

JUMP-STARTING CITES

A probable incentive for the establishment of CITES in 1975, was the furore (which began in 1970) surrounding the slaughter of 250 000 elephants, 10 000 black rhinos,    5 000 zebra and 26 000 Colobus monkeys, in Kenya, during the 1970s; extending into the 1980s. This scandalous and prolonged event was orchestrated and controlled by Kenya’s ruling Kenyatta family. Called “The Chief Butcher”, Mamma Ngina Kenyatta (Jomo Kenyatta’s wife & Kenya’s First Lady) and Jomo Kenyatta’s daughter, Margaret Wambui Kenyatta (The first black lady mayor of Nairobi), were the two most prominent Kenyatta family members running the extensive poaching business.

Rural village hunters were the people who did most of the killing; they did so under Mamma Ngina’s instructions; they were in her employ; and she afforded them immunity from arrest. All the contraband was shipped out to Far Eastern markets with presidential approval, from Kenya’s Indian Ocean seaports. None of it, even after 1975, was accompanied by CITES permits.

PRE-REQUISITES TO JOINING CITES

There are two prior conditions that apply to sovereign states wishing to join CITES:

  1. The applicant is required to surrender, to the convention, its sovereign right to enter into international trade in its own wildlife and wildlife products; and
  2. The applicant is required to accept and to abide by the consensus votes made by the 183 sovereign state delegates.

THE RANGE STATES

Within the body of 183 sovereign state Parties, are ‘range states’ of various kinds. These are countries which exercise jurisdiction over a population, or several populations, of a particular species. For example, there are 37 states in Africa in which elephants live permanently; so there are 37 elephant range states.

There are today, however, only some 10 black rhino range states; and but two orang-utan range states. Every animal species on earth lives in a range state.

The range states are the only CITES participants who have any kind of responsibility for the proper management of the earth’s multifarious plant and animal species, because they ‘own’ them. They are the only Parties that can be held accountable for whatever happens to them, good or bad. They are the only people who suffer the negative consequences of ‘bad’ decisions made at CITES; and who enjoy the benefits from ‘good’ decisions. 

THE CONSENSUS VOTE

The consensus vote is one of the most contentious issues at CITES; it is considered by many to be the best possible democratic process to reach decisions for all. Others consider it to be inequitable, even farcical! Whatever whoever calls it, the consensus vote is the cause of a great deal of anguish for many range states. Whilst in a social club, where a great deal of light-hearted bonhomie is often part of the decision-making process, especially where the results of decisions have no particular survival import, it is taken a lot more seriously at CITES. There are no decisions made at CITES that are ‘light’ at heart.

The sovereign state Parties to the convention, remember, have surrendered to CITES, their sovereign right to trade internationally in their own wildlife and wildlife products; and a lot of countries only understood the total implications of this bizarre arrangement long after they had become members.

Today, some wildlife commodities are extremely valuable. The current value of elephant ivory and rhino horn are two good examples. Rhino horn today is worth more than its weight in gold! This reality takes any light-hearted opinions about the consensus vote to an entirely different level.

There is a whole lot more to this vitally important conundrum, however, than meets the eye.

At CoP17, Swaziland requested permission from CITES to sell its stockpile of rhino horn, derived from natural deaths over the years and confiscations from poachers. The Swaziland delegation explained that they had plans to invest the proceeds from the sale of these horns into a secure trust fund that would enable the country to cover the costs of its very expensive anti-rhino-poaching programme forever. The request was turned down flat without any responsible or reasoned explanation.

Zimbabwe has a stockpile of about 100 tons of elephant ivory, and an appreciable number of rhino horns, both of which were accumulated over many years under much the same circumstances that Swaziland assembled its stockpile of rhino horn. CITES has consistently refused to allow Zimbabwe to sell its perfectly legal and very valuable stockpile of ivory (and rhino horn). Instead, they insist that Zimbabwe should burn it!

Namibia also has ivory and rhino horn stocks to sell; and Namibia, too, has been refused permission to do so. Similar litanies are being sung throughout Africa.

The CITES mantra is that the Parties cannot complain. They all agreed, on joining, to abide by the consensus vote. And that is true.

So let’s have a look at this consensus vote and determine if it is legally and morally conscionable.

Consensus at CITES is determined by the casting of 183 sovereign state votes. But the process is neither fair nor impartial; and it has been corrupted by the fact that accredited animal rightist NGOs have, for decades, been buying votes from poor (and/or corrupt) sovereign state Parties; and by sponsoring the high costs of their attendance at the CoPs. And the acquisition of these votes has become very slick.

The regular buying of votes at CITES has been known since, at least, the middle 1980s when the American Government Accountability Office (GAO), the supreme audit institution of the United States, investigated reports of the vote-buying phenomenon. It abandoned the investigation, however, because the crimes were carried out at CoPs in foreign lands all over the world, where the GAO has no jurisdiction.

The new sponsorship idea was brought into operation only recently. It was revealed, not denied, and openly discussed by the delegates at CopP17 in Johannesburg (2016).

The consensus voting system is not otherwise fair, or completely honest, because:

  1. Each delegation’s vote is guided more by its own country’s cultural beliefs than it is by the facts of the case before it;
  2. By reason of the voting mathematics; and
  3. The effects of corruption

The best example to explain the cultural belief issue is to compare two opposing wildlife cultures. This does not make the one culture ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’. It just makes them different! As long as its wildlife culture, like all its other subcultures, ‘works’ for the country concerned that is all that matters.

The American wildlife culture, for example, is ‘anti-market hunting’. In America it is illegal to make money out of indigenous wildlife; and it is considered immoral to do so. South Africa’s wildlife culture, on the other hand, is ‘commercial’. It is entirely dependent upon making money out of wildlife. No two national wildlife cultures can be quite so diametrically opposed!

Now consider these issues: there are 183 sovereign state voters making the consensus decisions all of whom have their own wildlife cultures; most are very different, the one from the other; and each nation has its own beliefs with regards to how the world of wildlife management, and wildlife trade, should go round.

Add to this problem the fact the animal rightist NGOs are buying votes, one way or another, all the time. So there is truly, altogether, a dearth of equitability or honesty in the CITES consensus voting system.

One of the biggest indictments of the consensus vote, however, lies in the differences that exist between the numbers of range states vis-a-vis the numbers of non-range states, all of whom are doing the voting.

With respect to decisions on all elephant management issues, for example, there are only 37 elephant range states, compared to 146 non-elephant-range states. When it comes to: black rhinos, there are 10 black rhino range states to 173 non-black rhino range states; white rhinos, perhaps 13 white rhino range states to 170 non-range states; orangutans, 2 orangutan range states to 181 non-orangutan range states. Indeed, there are similar disparities with all other species. And, in all cases, there are infinitely more non-range states than there are range states.

Now let us have a closer look at the implications of the mathematics. What chance does any particular elephant range state have of convincing the 146 non-range states (80 percent of the Parties) to produce a ‘straight and honest’ consensus outcome that will allow them to sell their legally acquired elephant ivory?

NB: This is an especially valid consideration when the very affluent animal rightist NGOs maintain a constant, emotional and virulent propaganda campaign    to convince the world at large that the elephant is facing extinction (which is not true)! Link this fact to the high level of corruption in CITES today, too. Even comparatively minor gifts of money can sway the heads of Parties to vote one way one way or the other – especially when most of them have no ‘emotional ownership’ of elephants.

And, all the while society should be pondering that fact that a range state, when all the political dressings have been stripped from the edifice, has the greater ‘moral right’ (and the national sovereign right) to apply its own management and trade practices on its own wild animals?

Many range states bitterly believe there is no guarantee of honesty in the consensus voting system because vote-buying (or ‘acquiring’ votes one way or another) determines the outcome of practically all important CITES decisions!

What chance does South Africa have of ever getting CITES to approve the sale of its ever growing stockpile of legally acquired rhino horn? The answer is zero! If any CITES dictates are unfair, it is the fact that the convention gives absolutely no credit to South Africa for developing a rhino farming industry that produces masses of rhino horn, removed clinically and without pain, from live rhinos! And the horn re-grows rapidly. So, the harvest of rhino horn can be carried out sustainably at regular intervals throughout the 30-40 years of every rhino’s lifespan.

In South Africa today, private farmers own 7 000 rhinos (black and white). This equates to one third of the national herd.

Game ranching, which includes rhino farming, is a commercial enterprise and no business can survive if it has no market for its produce; yet CITES adamantly refuses to allow South Africa to sell its legal rhino horn into the international market place. And, under present circumstances, this is not going to change. These are some of the many irreconcilable problems that CITES brings to Africa!

CITES is busy trying to destroy all ivory and rhino horn markets in the Far East because the convention, with massive animal rights pressure, has led the world to believe that it is the ivory and rhino horn trade that is spawning all the elephant and rhino poaching in Africa. And it is promoting the burning of ivory and rhino horn stockpiles wherever they occur. If CITES succeeds in closing down the Far Eastern ivory and rhino horn markets, it will render elephants and rhinos worthless; and THAT will make it impossible to integrate the needs of Africa’s people with the needs of its wildlife (especially its elephants and rhinos).

Poverty and unemployment in rural Africa are the factors that drive subsistence poaching; nothing else. Poaching of all kinds is the way that Africa’s rural people survive in their very hard and harsh world. So, to stop the poaching you have to remove the poverty; and to remove poverty you have to use the value of wildlife (especially ivory and rhino horn) to pay and to persuade the rural folk not to poach. There are some very simple and equitable ways this can be done.

Persevere! All these loose ends eventually come together!

CITES is also busy trying to destroy rhino farming in South Africa. It is silent, however, about the fact that if the rhino farming enterprise is destroyed, the landowners will be forced to replace their rhinos with cattle, sheep and goats; and crops. The farmers have to make a living off their land ‘somehow’! And if rhino farmers are forced to retreat back into conventional agriculture, what will happen to the 7 000 rhinos that they currently own; rhinos which are now thriving and multiplying hugely? (Rhino populations are capable of doubling their numbers every 7 or 8 years). I will leave the answer to that question up in the air for you to ponder!

Furthermore, if we cannot use the value of elephants and rhino, of elephant ivory and rhino horn, and of the extra hunting value, too, to alleviate the rural people’s poverty, the elephant and the rhino are doomed to extinction.

Let us now examine the relative situations that pertain to range states and non-range states for Africa’s elephants and rhinos. The huge numbers of non-elephant and non-rhino range states hail from all the four corners of the earth where: nobody has ever seen an elephant or a rhino; nobody knows anything about either of these species; and nobody really cares.

These are the people in whose hands every sovereign state in Africa has relinquished control of its precious wildlife heritage. These are the people who take their task as the controllers of the CITES consensus vote so very seriously that they are willing to sell their votes to the highest bidder. They know nothing about Africa’s wildlife or its management needs. They know nothing of the aspirations of African governments to enable Africa’s rural people to achieve wealth and upliftment by sustainably utilising species like elephants and rhinos, lions and leopards, and a whole host of others.

It is easy to say that that attitude is unfair but it is not. And it is true! Most delegates at CITES are only concerned with their own wildlife and not anybody else’s. They go to CITES to fly their country’s flag and/or to get favourable resolutions for their own wildlife problems. When you converse with a delegate from ‘Timbuctu’ or the ‘Outer Hebrides’, that truth becomes all too apparent!

The fact that most sovereign states don’t care about what happens to many strange and foreign animals which they have never seen is particularly manifest by the fact they are prepared to sell their votes at the drop of a hat. And because of that fact, they become easy marks for fraudsters and racketeers. A thousand dollars slipped into such an unbeliever’s pocket can easily persuade him to vote in the manner that his benefactor prescribes; because the man doesn’t care. He really doesn’t. Thus are CITES votes easily purchased.

Now let’s have a look at the degree of importance with which range states entertain their proposals to CITES; to sustainably utilise and to market, internationally, their own wildlife resources. Some of those resources are, today, extremely valuable and very sellable commodities. We have to remember that upon joining CITES, the sovereign states of the world surrendered their sovereign trading rights to the convention; their countries’ most treasured renewable natural resources; their wildlife heritage.

So when a state makes an honest proposal, like Swaziland did at CoP17 with its bid to get CITES approval to sell its rhino horn stockpile, and it fails, its spirit hits rock bottom. And THAT is NOT what CITES should be about. CITES should be there to make it possible for genuine appeals for help, to happen. THAT is not on the CITES agenda, however, because the convention is filled to the brim with animal rights NGOs who have an entirely different purpose. They are busy turning CITES from being an organisation that REGULATES the wildlife trade into one that PROHIBITS it. We will shortly discuss why they do this.

THE ENDANGERED SPECIES CONCEPT

The Endangered Species concept is a fallacy; because wild animals do not arrange themselves at the species level. They arrange themselves at the population level; and they can only be ‘managed’ at the population level one by one; one population at a time. That makes the endangered species concept a dicey foundation for any kind of honest wildlife management discussion, deliberation or action; and it renders any management application ‘to a species as a whole’, fundamentally wrong.

To make my interpretations totally clear, I must now, perforce, define the terms species and population.

Species: A species is a group of animals that share the same physical and  behavioural characteristics (they look and act alike) and which, when they breed, produce fertile off-spring with the same physical and behavioural characteristics.

Population: A population is a group of animals of the same species, the individuals of which interact with each other, in continuum, on a daily basis and which breed only with other animals in the same group.

There is simply no place in the science of wildlife management, therefore, where the endangered species concept fits. Ipso facto, it is a fallacious fantasy.

THE ELEPHANTS OF AFRICA

Some elephant populations live in evergreen montane forests; others in deciduous woodlands; others in savannahs (treed grasslands); others in heavy grasslands and reedbeds; others in dense deciduous thickets; others in swamps; and yet others in deserts. The elephant populations that live in these different habitat-types use them in different ways; and they impact on them differently, too. Some elephant populations are negatively affected by man the poacher; others benefit from interactions with man; and yet others are not affected by man at all.

All these variously different environmental ‘pressures’ determine how each individual population should and must be managed.

NB: Definition: Wildlife management is the action man takes to achieve a man-desired objective.

The manner that elephants impact on their habitats is determined by, among other things, how many elephants comprise each population; and how those numbers relate to the elephant carrying capacities of their habitat.

NB: Elephant Carrying Capacity: is the maximum number of elephants a habitat can carry without causing permanent and progressive damage to the vegetation in their habitat.

There are three categories of elephant populations:

  1. SAFE Elephant Populations: These occur in healthy numbers that are breeding well. They are constantly expanding but have not yet exceeded the carrying capacity of their habitat. They do not, therefore, cause permanent damage to their habitats; so they do not adversely affect the biological diversity of their local ecosystem.
  2. UNSAFE Elephant Populations: These are low in number, declining, and the reasons for the decline cannot be halted. Such populations face probable local extinction.
  3. EXCESSIVE Elephant Populations: These are populations whose numbers exceed the carrying capacities of their habitats. They, therefore, continually cause irreparable and progressive damage to the vegetation in their habitats; vegetation on which they rely for survival. That, in turn, causes massive biological diversity losses; and it results, too, in the ultimate desertification of the ecosystem.

NB: Given the fact that the principal purpose of a national park is to maintain its species diversity, over-and-above-all-other-considerations, the maintenance of excessive elephant populations in a national park is absolutely wrong. It is the most inexcusable example of MIS-management.

There are two functions of wildlife management: Preservation and conservation.

  • Conservation management is applied to SAFE elephant populations. Its purpose is, inter alia, to make sure that SAFE populations do not become UNSAFE; or that they do not increase in number to the point that they become EXCESSIVE.
  • SAFE elephant populations MUST be culled and/or hunted every year to stabilise the population at a number that remains, consistently, below the habitat’s elephant carrying capacity.
  • SAFE elephant populations can and should be used in a wise and sustainable manner for the benefit of mankind. The word conservation, therefore, is concerned with sustainable use/sustainable management.
  • SAFE elephant populations can be sustainably hunted; harvested for their intrinsic products (meat; tusks; and skins); and some animals can be captured for live sale.
  • Preservation management is applied to UNSAFE elephant populations. It effectively protects the population from all harm and its ultimate objective is to make UNSAFE populations SAFE.
  • EXCESSIVE elephant populations are off the regular wildlife management chart.
  • There is only one way to treat excessive elephant populations and that is to reduce their numbers, drastically, and as quickly as possible. The requirement to reduce their numbers ‘as quickly as possible, is imperative because it is necessary to eliminate ‘as quickly as possible’ their progressive and continuous damage to habitats, to ecosystem health and stability, and to biological diversity.
  • To what extent should excessive elephant populations be reduced? They should be reduced to numerical levels that are commensurate with the sustainable carrying capacities of their habitats!
  • The purpose of elephant population reduction management is to restore EXCESSIVE elephant populations to a state where they are, once again, SAFE. And that means to a state where they are no longer destroying their habitats, the ecosystem in which they live, or biological diversity.

AFRICA’S GREAT ELEPHANT CENSUS (GEC).

Africa’s much vaunted continent-wide elephant count was concluded in 2016, at great expense and with great effort by many, many people. I do not denigrate the expended effort involved. BUT, the count covered only 18 of Africa’s 37 elephant range states and 19 elephant range states were not included. Nevertheless, I understand the explanations given; and, with reservations, I reluctantly accept the long list of elephant numbers counted, sanctuary by sanctuary (but there is no way for anybody to constructively use those numbers!).

Now I wish to discuss two related issues:

  1. All the world really got out of the GEC was a long list of numbers. Numbers of different elephant populations. Not one of those numbers was accompanied by even the inkling of an indication as what might be the elephant carrying capacities of their individual sanctuary habitats. Hence, we have no idea whether the elephant populations counted were/are SAFE, UNSAFE or EXCESSIVE. This negates one of the stated purposes of the GEC: To help the world and our wildlife managers to better understand and to better manage Africa’s elephants.

I know, for example, that every elephant population in southern Africa is EXCESSIVE. Indeed, they are all GROSSLY excessive. That means, if the ecosystems and biological diversities of the national parks that support these populations are to be preserved; and if we are to avoid having the game reserves become deserts; massive elephant population reduction is vital.

In round figures, the elephant numbers in Botswana’s north-western wildlife sanctuaries (Ngamiland) stand at 200 000; in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, 50 000; In Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park, 12 000; and in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, 20 000. Contesting and tweaking these numbers will not change the reality of their management requirements.

Because I have a very good idea of the carrying capacities of all these wildlife sanctuaries, I can state without fear of intelligent contradiction, that all these population numbers are grossly excessive and they are not sustainable. THAT means they will have to each be reduced in number, for good and sound management reasons, by at least 50 percent (in a first management action). This provides one example illustrating how the perceptions thrown out by these GEC numbers are misleading.

Even if ALL the numbers are 100 percent correct, therefore, nobody can tell you whether or not the GEC elephant populations are sustainable. In southern Africa they are not!

  1. The GEC states that, compared to previous counts, elephant numbers in Africa have declined by 30 percent; and, they say, without any kind of proof, that the declines were caused by ‘poaching’. That statement, of course, rang alarm bells right through the First World; and a witch hunt ensued to ‘stop the poaching’ and to destroy all Far Eastern markets in ivory and rhino horn (because everybody now erroneously believes in the animal rightists’ promoted myth of a Chinese Mafia). The number of elephants, purported to have been killed by poachers (since 2007), is 144 000.

Even though the animal rights brigade (since CITES 1989) has consistently blamed a mysterious “Chinese Poaching Mafia” for organising the poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa, the facts suggest otherwise. In fact, since 1970, all the main poaching events were orchestrated by the political elites in Kenya; Tanzania; Mozambique; Zimbabwe; and Zambia. (And the animal rights NGOs know this – especially with respect to Kenya and Tanzania).

During the period of the GEC (2007 to 2016) between 2008 to 2012, 44 000 elephants were ‘poached’ in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, the blame for which Tanzanian citizens point a straight finger directly at their own country’s president of that era.

Tens of thousands of elephants’ were reportedly poached in the northern parts of Mozambique (2008 – 2014) where again surreptitious fingers are pointed at elements of that country’s political elite. And it has been said that many tens of thousands of elephant were not counted in the 19 range states that were left out of the census. Altogether these figures account for at least half the 144 000 reported to have been ‘killed by poachers’; but WHO, exactly, were/are these ‘poachers’?

NB: It is currently being said on the grapevine that all the heavy rhino poaching that is taking place inside South Africa’s Kruger National Park by Mozambican cross-border nationals, is masterminded by a senior policeman in Mozambique. Many South Africans even have his name! And he has given the poachers immunity from arrest inside Mozambique. THAT, it is alleged, is why the South African anti-rhino-poaching units cannot get on top of the rhino poaching problem in Kruger! This is precisely what has happened all over east and south-central Africa since 1970. So, the TGA believes this to be true.

There are certainly Chinese and Vietnamese buyers of illegal elephant ivory and rhino horn all over Africa; as there are black and white people doing the same thing. We cannot and we must not, therefore, blame the Chinese (or Vietnamese) for everything; especially when there is so much evidence to indicate that what the local people say is true: that the MAIN elephant poaching events have all been orchestrated by Africa’s own political elites.

The figures suggest that over half a million elephants were killed by the political elites of Kenya and Tanzania (alone) between 1970 and 1993; and yet another (aforementioned) 44 000 were killed in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve between 2008 and 2014 by the Tanzanian political elites. Plus, we can add the north-Mozambican kills during the last ten years.

Many more thousands of elephants and large numbers of black rhinos were killed by the political elites of Zambia and Zimbabwe in the 1980s and 1990s.

Since 1970, elephant and rhino poaching has been a periodic national sport throughout east and south-central Africa; and a lot of people have made an awful lot of money out of it. Ironically Uhuru Kenyatta, one of the richest men in Africa and the current president of Kenya, who was recently instrumental in burning over a hundred tons of ivory in Nairobi, to emphasise his support for stopping the ivory trade, commands a huge family fortune that was obtained largely from his family’s elephant and rhino poaching activities.

Who did the Kenyan killings? Village hunters were key players but they were employed by, and given immunity from arrest by, their senior political masters. Others included game rangers, the military, the police, politicians, the civil service, and some professional hunters who climbed on the bandwagon, too. And the contraband was all exported from East Africa’s Indian Ocean seaports without CITES papers but with presidential approval.

If we continue to chase illusionary moonbeams, thinking and telling everybody that the Chinese Mafia has been and remains behind the big poaching events in Africa, we will never get to the bottom of Africa’s poaching scandal. We must get the whole world to understand what happened, and to know who the real villains are! CITES, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and every government in the West, needs to understand that if they (deliberately or unconsciously and without concern for the truth) continue to disseminate animal rights propaganda that tells the world the Chinese Mafia are the ones to blame for the poaching; if they insist on closing down ivory and rhino horn markets in the Far East; and if they continue to deny legitimate African ivory and rhino horn producers access to legal markets, they are actually hammering the final nails into the lid of Africa’s wildlife coffin.

The unfortunate fallout from this whole debacle is that IF the markets for ivory and rhino horn are closed down in the Far East, it will not be to the advantage of those African countries that can still produce legal ivory and legal rhino horn. The people who are doing ‘the right’ thing, therefore, are the ones being punished. So we need some enterprising journalist to investigate this state of affairs, with the object of getting the truth out into the big wide world. In the meantime, the TGA is telling the Far East – China; Vietnam; Laos; Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan – NOT to close down their ivory and rhino horn markets; but to enter into negotiations with the SADC countries of southern Africa with the idea that a new and legal Far Eastern wildlife products market can be set up to absorb Africa’s legally produced ivory and rhino horn.

My deep-seated concerns have nothing to do with the well-being and/or continued existence of CITES or the FWS. I have washed my hands of them. My concerns are about Africa, its people and its wildlife. It doesn’t help Africa if CITES and the FWS continue to perpetuate the myth of the so-called ‘Chinese Mafia’; if they turn a blind-eye to the involvement of Africa’s political elites in the continent’s massive commercial poaching scandal; and if they continue to refuse to reward those African states that are doing all the right wildlife management things. In all these respects the performances of CITES and the FWS stink.

NOTHING can or will be resolved until the truth surrounding all these matters comes out! And it is going to come out!

CITES AND THE ANIMAL RIGHTISTS

Who and what are the animal rightists? In a nutshell, they are people in the western World whose stated purpose in life is to abolish all animal ‘uses’ by man. They believe that man should not eat meat and that he should live entirely on a vegetable diet. They believe all animals have the same right to life as do humans; and that man has no right to kill a sentient animal. To achieve their objectives, however, the animal rightists have to violate the legitimate human rights of practically every man, woman and child on planet earth. There is, therefore, no place in any civilised society for the animal rights doctrine.

They preach that wildlife management is unnecessary; that there is no need to ‘manage’ what the TGA calls SAFE, UNSAFE or EXCESSIVE animal populations; that there is no need to be concerned about elephants destroying their own habitats; that maintaining stability between the soil, the plants and the animals in a game reserve is an artificial manipulation of the natural world; and that controlling species diversity and/or the health and vigour of natural ecosystems in a national park, is an unnecessary artefact of man. They say ‘nature knows best’ how to manage itself! Hence man should leave nature to its own devices in a national park. What utter rubbish!

The animal rightists appeal to the uninformed and naive people in the big cities of the western world who are totally detached from nature. They tell them that it is cruel, barbaric and without logical purpose to kill what they call ‘endangered’ elephants and rhinos; that it is not necessary for modern man to use ivory for ornaments, and rhino horn as an aphrodisiac; and that it is immoral to make money out of wild animals. They are consistently dead-against hunting (which is the only way that wild animals can be harvested). And the people in the big cities of the world believe them. Once they have spread their poison, the animal rightists then ask their compliant audiences to donate money to help them stop all the senseless killing of wild animals that is, allegedly, going on in Africa. And, in this manner, they earn hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in donations. These are the same people, I must point out, that tell everybody it is immoral to ‘make money out of wildlife’!

None of these Western NGOs ‘own’ any of the African wild animals or national parks the management for which they are now dictating. And they have no accountability whatsoever for the consequences of their demands, good or bad. It is about time that responsible and intelligent people the world over started bringing these facts to the attention of their governments and questioning their politicians why they give so much credibility to these nefarious people and their propaganda.

DON’T CONFUSE ANIMAL ‘RIGHTS’ WITH ANIMAL‘WELFARE’.

As I explained previously, it is the animal rightists’ objective to abolish all animal ‘uses’ by man. Nobody should support this dubious ideology.

By comparison, animal welfare organisations have no objections to man ‘using’ animals for his own benefit. They insist, however, that when he ‘uses’ a live animal – such as an ox to plough a field, or a horse to pull a cart – there must be no cruelty involved in the process. And when man kills an animal to obtain meat to eat, the killing must be humane. Animal welfare people, therefore, look after man’s civilised standards in his treatment of animals. Consequently, we should all support genuine animal welfare.

Animal rightists, despite their honeyed words, are shockingly lacking in moral integrity. They will tell the most blatant of lies in their propaganda solely to spice-up the emotional appeal of their false stories. Propaganda is their bread-and-butter. It is through their carefully prepared propaganda campaigns that they earn their millions.

NB: Propaganda, by definition is: “The spreading of ideas, information or rumour for the purpose of promoting an ideal – or injuring an institution, cause or person – by any means true or false.”

The animal rightists believe that there is nothing wrong with telling lies if it will help to achieve their purpose (which is to make money out of a gullible public).

“Tell a lie a thousand times”, Nazi Joseph Goebels told the world during World War II, “and it becomes the truth.” The animal rightists have had a good teacher!

The American RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organisations) Act tells us something else about the animal rightists: that they are fraudsters; that they are racketeers; and that the whole animal rights brigade, together, constitutes international organised crime.

The basis of this opinion is the fact that their propaganda apparatus is dependent upon them telling a whopping lie; which becomes fraud when money is made out of it. When that same fraudulent act is carried out more than once, it becomes (according to the RICO Act) a ‘racket’. And racketeering is one of 35 other criminal acts that define ‘organised crime’. So the animal rightists are ‘eco-racketeers’ and criminals!

A great many fraudulent acts and statements have been perpetrated by the animal rightists over the years. During the three years leading up to the CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg (2016), for example, they told the world a million times that:

  1. The African elephant was an ‘endangered species’; and
  2. The African elephant was ‘facing extinction’.

Both those stories were fabrications. They are totally untrue. But that did not stop the animal rightists from repeating those lies many, many times in every media outlet in creation, over the entire three-year life SPAN of their propaganda story. And they used that propaganda to ‘persuade’ the gullible public to pay them a great deal of money.

The money they accumulate every year by such fraudulent means amounts, literally, to hundreds of millions of US dollars; and it is all committed to their own bank accounts. Nothing is ever sent to Africa to ‘save’ the elephant from ‘extinction’; which in the story they tell the world. Their propaganda, therefore, is a purposefully contrived illusion that has no other purpose than to make money out of a gullible public for themselves.

The facts are that every elephant population in southern Africa is ‘EXCESSIVE’; they should all be subjected to massive population reduction; and THAT means they are most certainly not ‘endangered’ nor ‘facing extinction’.

So, here we have the whole construction supporting the RICO Act interpretation: that the animal rightists are fraudsters; that they practice the same basic fraudulent act a great many times (more than ‘twice’) over many years, which qualifies them as being ‘racketeers’; and that because they are all doing this same racketeering act all over the world between each and every CoP, they collectively practice ‘organised crime’.

Why does the world associate with such people; in CITES; in the big cities of the world; and in our UN organisations? Today, for those of us who have eyes to see, it is very clear that the animal rights NGOs have hi-hijacked the convention; they have captured its administration; they control the Secretariat’s thinking; they force animal rights propaganda onto all the officials; and they control the sovereign state consensus voting at CITES by buying enough votes to control each and every important debate.

For the last 43 years, CITES has been allowing the accreditation of animal rights NGOs to the CoPs. One has to wonder why? And one has to wonder, also, why organisations that are committed to ABOLISHING all animal uses by man (including trade) would want to affiliate themselves to an organisation whose purpose is to REGULATE the wildlife trade? Their strategy is obvious! The Animal Rights NGOs joined CITES to sabotage the convention. It is certainly not their purpose to help CITES ‘better regulate’ the trade. Their purpose is clearly to convert CITES into an organisation that PROHIBITS wildlife trade. And that is exactly what is happening at CITES today.

CITES is the organisation into whose hands the sovereign states of Africa have delivered – like a new born baby – their unique and very precious wildlife heritage; into whose hands they have committed themselves to whatever consensus vote emerges; and into whose conniving hearts they have all delivered their country’s destiny.

The Secretariat is no longer running CITES in the interests of its sovereign state members; and particularly NOT in the interests of Africa; Africa’s people; or Africa’s wildlife. It has done nothing to stop the buying of votes whilst it falls over its own feet to accommodate its affluent accredited animal rightist friends.

At the 69th CITES Standing Committee meeting in November 2018, in Geneva Switzerland, a group of concerned pro-sustainable-use NGOs attempted to introduce a ‘Code of Responsibility’ into the CITES statutes, for the adherence of all accredited NGOs at the CoPs. A major part and purpose of the proposed code was to stop NGOs from buying votes. No sooner had the last word of the presentation echoed through the hall, than the Secretary General himself (John Scanlon) addressed everybody, in a loud voice, proclaiming that there was no need for such a code, because nothing was broken so nothing needed fixing. The retort was so passionate, so abrupt and so forceful it stunned everybody.

No debate ensued. No mention was made of the ‘sponsoring’ of sovereign state delegations at CoP17. Nothing was said about all the past decades of bribery and corruption that had take place to enable NGOs to ‘acquire’ votes. The whole ‘issue’ was adroitly swept under the carpet. So it was, therefore, that the Secretary General, now very obviously a fellow traveller of the animal rights brigade, unconsciously and very passionately announced to the world his acceptance of the corruption levels that exist in CITES!

My own ideas on this subject are that CITES should change its NGO accreditation rules in such a way that the convention can purge itself of all animal rightist participation. And this can be done legitimately! The convention cannot achieve its stated objectives when such saboteurs have access to the CITES helm!

‘Something’ has got to change!

To me, this was/is all an unconscionable state of affairs; and I believe it deserves a proper and thorough investigation by an independent United Nations Board of Inquiry. Furthermore, there is so much NGO money floating around the hallways of every convention meeting, that such a Board of Inquiry should have an undercover capacity to clandestinely investigate the possibility of bribes being offered to, and accepted by, the CITES administration. Such is my thorough disdain for CITES.

 THE PELLY AMENDMENT

CoP17 was characterised by an underground swell of disapproval in the African camp. Prior to the convention, several African states had voiced their desire to resign from the convention; but none of them did. And I wondered why.

Then, towards the end of the convention, the words ‘The Pelly Amendment’ came to my attention. I had had no idea that such a document existed until CoP17, yet I discovered that it has actually been used by America, in several ways, since 1970. Where and how it had been used I have no idea.

The Pelly Amendment, in a nutshell, is a legal device that enables America to apply economic sanctions on any country that does anything of which the Americans disapprove. And, it was clearly alluded to me, they did not approve of sovereign African states resigning from CITES!

I was also told that the Americans has used the document as a lever to persuade Cameroon to withdraw its pre-announced agreement to support a proposal put forward by the Congo, concerning the harvesting and export of African Grey Parrots. The fact that the proposal was not seconded meant the Congo’s proposal had had to be withdrawn. And the Cameroon delegation – almost in state of panic at the very idea – flatly refused to be drawn into any discussion on the matter. So whoever had done the ‘persuading’ had made a good job of his assignment. Thus was America’s desideratum for the Grey Parrot issue, settled.

The Pelly Amendment had also been used, I was told, to influence the consensus vote that, at CoP17, denied Swaziland’s proposal to sell its stockpile of rhino horn.

As if the bribery and corruption surrounding the buying of votes by the animal rightist NGOs was not enough, therefore, towards the end of CoP 17 I was also confronted with the possibility of a number of serious cases of gunboat diplomacy by the American (Obama) CITES delegation.

So, virtual anarchy rules inside the convention halls of CITES! And I re-iterate my very deep concerns about the fact that the sovereign states of Africa have surrendered their precious wildlife resources into the hands of such a pernicious organisation.

CITES is NOT an ideal partner for any southern African state in the wildlife game. It is not aligned with southern Africa’s ‘commercial’ wildlife culture. The animal rightist NGOs are all imbued with the same American ‘anti-market-hunting’ vibe – and that ideal has spread throughout the entire animal rights fraternity. The same goes for British and European NGOs. And the general public of practically every Western sovereign state has been so indoctrinated by the continuous deluge of animal rights propaganda that they are not prepared to look at any wildlife management proposition that encompasses any other ideal.

People who have business partners, benefit from the fact that both parties understand the facts of the business they own, and how it works; and they both work towards making it a success. If that wasn’t the case, the business would be unsuccessful; it would fold; and both parties would become bankrupt. On the other hand, if one of the partners had reason to believe that the other was not pulling his weight, he could dissolve the partnership and leave it.

Life within CITES does not work like this.

Today, sovereign states at CITES are there to do as they are told. The stake they put on the table when they joined CITES, was their country’s wildlife heritage; and they had agreed to abide by the consensus vote, too, no matter how inequitable that voting system later turned out to be. Unlike in a private business, however, when a sovereign state observes that its wildlife heritage is being squandered because of inept management practices by its very dominant partner (CITES), they cannot just opt out as a normal, sensible and wise business manager would do. They cannot exit from their CITES commitments without suffering some very serious consequences – penalties that were not clearly visible or explained (not even in the small print) when they joined. In other words, nobody explains to the newcomer the consequences should the Party decide to exit the convention.

When a sovereign state joined CITES all it was concerned about was working within the convention to stop poaching. To achieve that desired-by-all objective, the sovereign state agreed to having its international trade ‘regulated’ by the convention because CITES promised that ‘legal’ international trade (within the scope of CITES permits) could continue, as in the past, unhindered.

THAT all started 43 years ago! And since 1975 a great deal has changed. Today the sovereign states have to contend with the ‘enemy within’; the animal rightist NGOs who are trying every trick in the book to STOP ALL wildlife trade. And the animal rightists, by hostile take-over, have managed to ‘capture’ the convention. What the animal rightists say, hook or by crook, ‘goes’. And, whereas the African state members want to trade in products from their harvest of SAFE wild animal populations (like the horns humanely removed from live white rhinos), they are not allowed to do so because, one way or another, they are blocked by animal rightist interventions. And back home, the animal rightists are also ‘capturing’ their own governments. It has been a long hard battle but they are succeeding. Obama was himself a died-in-the-wool animal rightist. However, the animal rightists are not invincible.

When a state leaves CITES, if America does not slap economic sanctions on them for doing so, every sovereign state that remains a member of CITES is honour-bound not to trade in wildlife products with those who had left. So to speak, therefore, states that resign from CITES find themselves out in the cold. When several states resign at the same time, however, they can trade with each other with impunity. This tells us that, if states want to break from the uncompromising CITES shackles, they should act collectively and resign en bloc.

WHAT THE SOVERIGN STATES OF AFRICA NEED FROM CITES

Africa is at the cross-roads of an epic journey. Whilst it still needs to control the illegal wildlife trade, it more greatly needs a much more honest and constructive interaction with the convention to create genuine sustainable-use programmes for the benefit of Africa’s rural people. Everybody now knows that subsistence poaching by village hunters is fuelled by poverty and unemployment. So, common sense should tell everybody that poaching won’t stop until those two factors – poverty and unemployment – can be removed from this vexing equation. Africa’s village hunters poach in order to survive! And everybody else in the world would poach elephants, too, if they were in the shoes of Africa’s rural people. Survival is the primary force in the human psyche.

The Western animal rights NGOs have convinced the world that total preservation is the only way to ‘conserve’ Africa’s wildlife, but they are wrong. Total preservation will not remove the poverty and unemployment factors in rural Africa, and that means poaching will continue until there is no wildlife left. The rural people of Africa still have to survive!

Africa’s progressive wildlife management ‘thinkers’ understand the needs of Africa’s people; they comprehend the enormity of the challenges that lie ahead with regard to the human avalanche that is poised to swamp the continent later this century; and they understand what is possible and what is not possible with respect to managing Africa’s wildlife resources.

Unlike the Western World’s animal rights NGOs (who are completely self-serving and totally ignorant of the principles and practices of wildlife management) and unlike Western governments (who are in much the same boat as the animal rightists), Africa’s wildlife management ‘thinkers’ live with all these African realities and they know better than most what ideas, and which wildlife management programmes, are best for Africa. We don’t have to rely on CITES or the Western World to be told what to do; and we are tired of their demanding dictations.

To get a better understanding of what I am about to tell you now, we must first understand something of the African psyche. In remote rural Africa, human communities live constantly at the subsistence (survival) level. They try to grow enough food to feed themselves and their families, but they do not always succeed in doing this; and they own domestic stock such as cattle, sheep and goats. Sheep and goats are more readily slaughtered for food than are cattle. Cattle represent the black man’s bank account and the more cattle he has the greater is his social standing, which is very important to every black man on the continent. Cattle are slaughtered only for special ceremonies; they are used as bride-price merchandise; and they are sometimes sold for cash. And God help anyone who tries to steal a man’s cows; he will kill to protect them; and he will die trying to keep them safe when they are attacked by predators. His domestic stock is the rural black man’s survival mechanism; cattle, especially, generate in his heart and soul a huge proprietary ownership which is respected by his peers; and nothing is more important.

The only species of plants and animals on the continent of Africa that are assured of survival forever, therefore, come what may, are the crops that the rural black grows for his own consumption; and his domestic stock. Why? Because without them the rural black people of Africa would become extinct. They cannot do without these (cultivated) plants and (domesticated) animals!

On the other hand, the rural black man has no positive feelings towards whatever wild animals still share his environment; and they are expendable. He views them as a liability. They eat his crops; they kill his domestic stock; they compete for the natural grass and browse that he would rather reserve for his domestic animals; and wild animals often spread disease to his cattle, sheep and goats.

He cannot own wild animals. He cannot sell them. And if he is caught killing them, he is thrown into gaol. So he is better off without them. And those are his sentiments whenever he gives any kind of thought to wildlife.

The ‘thinking’ wildlife managers of Africa, however, are starting to create conditions that enable rural people to gain direct benefits from the sustainable use of ‘their’ wildlife. The managers believe that when the rural people gain direct benefits from their wildlife they will look after them in much the same way, and for exactly the same reasons, they so avidly look after their cattle, sheep and goats.

And because Africa’s wild animals are hugely more valuable than the rural people’s domestic livestock, the people can make infinitely more money out of ‘their’ wildlife than they could ever make from ‘their’ domesticated cattle, sheep and goats.

A domestic cow in rural Africa, for example, sells for between US$ 500 – US$1000 (depending on the quality of the beast); whereas a single average-sized huntable bull elephant would bring to a rural community an income of between US$10 000 and US$50 000; a huntable white rhino bull – US$ 100 000; a huntable black rhino bull –  US$ 350 000. And there is a range of 50 other wild animal species that can be sold to hunters for lesser prices; but those ‘lesser prices’ are still infinitely better than the price a rural farmer can get for a domestic cow. Ivory and rhino horn sales from elephants and rhinos killed for management purposes, without any consideration of the ‘added-value’ obtainable from hunters, would bring in a fortune. And the financial return from just the meat of harvested wild animals has a much greater value than the meat he can get from a domestic cow.

There are many added-value cottage industries that can be made to flow from such a dispensation: tanneries in the village environs to cure high quality elephant and rhino hide, and other game skins; furniture factories that make high quality furniture using world class elephant hide – for sale and distribution all over the world; leather jacket and boot factories; canneries to cook and can venison from all kinds of harvested wild animals; biltong factories that produce top-of-the-range dry-cured game biltong; village industries making all kinds of tourist curios; and a whole lot more.

All these considerations represent the epitome of symbiotic partnerships between Africa’s rural people and ‘their’ wildlife.

This new mutually beneficial approach to wildlife management will remove the poverty and the unemployment factors that, for a century or more, have been the real motivations driving commercial poaching. With such a new dispensation, the game animals and the business operations will be ‘owned’ by the local people. They will stop poaching simply because nobody in his right mind steals from himself; and they will stop other people from poaching, too – just as they have stopped people, since time began, from stealing their cattle, sheep and goats.

In recent years, however, CITES has blocked every step that any African country has ever made to establish this new kind of wildlife management paradigm. And the convention (together with the US Fish and Wildlife Service {FWS}) continues to create impediments to the continuation of even the long established and very successful community-based sustainable-use-of-wildlife CAMPFIRE programme in Zimbabwe.

How do they do this? The FWS, using the provisions of the American ‘Endangered Species Act’, now opposes the importation (by hunters) of their legitimate hunting trophies from Africa to America. CITES opposes the international sale of perfectly legitimate ivory and rhino horn products from several African countries. And neither the FWS nor CITES has lifted a single finger to oppose the airline bans on air-freighting legitimate hunting trophies out of Africa; when they both KNOW that ‘hunting’ is the only management tool anyone can use to harvest ‘wild products of the land’. The Western World’s growing cultural dictum, that it is ‘immoral to make money out of wildlife’, must give them both great satisfaction and moral justification for sitting back and doing nothing.

Furthermore, neither CITES nor the U.S.F&WS, has seen fit to investigate the fact that the massive elephant and rhino poaching events of the last 50 years is NOT the result of an illusionary Chinese Mafia; and to thus prove the deceit of the animal rightists’ lie! Neither have they ever attempted to prove the alternative and very serious allegation, that most of the elephant and rhino poaching was orchestrated by past presidents in Africa, their families and their cronies; none of whom were in the least bit perturbed that they were raping their own country’s wildlife heritage to enrich themselves, which is a routine that is continuing in Mozambique today.

Surely ‘someone’ – The President of America, maybe, through America’s notorious Pelly Amendment – has the power to tell Mozambique to stop the rhino poaching in Kruger National Park by its Mozambican nationals; or face the consequences of American economic sanctions. I am sure that is all it would take to stop the poaching of both rhinos and elephants in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. There is absolutely no doubt at all that Kruger National Park’s disastrous rhino poaching event is being fully orchestrated by a very powerful member of Mozambique’s political elite.

The animal rightists’ continuing allegations (since 1989) of the existence of a mysterious Chinese Mafia that, they say, has been orchestrating the big elephant and rhino poaching events in Africa since before 1989, is an unjust and undeserved slight on China and the Chinese people. I am particularly affronted by this insult because many leading animal rights NGOs have had offices in Nairobi (Kenya) since the middle 1960s. They must, therefore, have absorbed the massive poaching-event-‘news’ that came out of both Kenya and Tanzania in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. And that being a certainty, they must have KNOWN that China was NOT the culprit. They MUST have known, too, in those days, that those responsible for the slaughter were the corrupt political elites of Kenya and Tanzania.

In 1989 the NGOS who had offices in Nairobi, Kenya, MUST have known that it was the Kenyan President, Jomo Kenyatta, his family and his political cronies, who were responsible for the reduction of Kenya’s elephant population from 270 0000 to 20 000, and the virtual elimination of Kenya’s black rhinos, in the 1970s and 1980s. The whole world was talking about it in those days, so there is no possibility that the NGOs did not know the facts, too. But at CoP7 (Lausanne, Switzerland) they told the world that the Chinese Mafia, using “greedy peasant hunters” to do all the killing, were the culprits. Their denial was a political manoeuvre because had they told the truth at CoP7, there is no doubt they would have been ignominiously evicted from their offices in Nairobi; and from the whole of East Africa.

So, both CITES and the FWS have been and continue to work against Africa’s sovereign-right intentions to pursue its desire to save its wildlife, and to empower its rural people, through the legitimate sustainable-utilisation-of-wildlife process. This is EXACTLY what the IUCN’s World Conservation Strategy mission statement recommended in 1980.

A lot of talk is given at CITES to the merits of the sustainable-use-of-wildlife concept; but it is all hot air. What CITES means by ‘sustainable use of wildlife’ is non-consumptive ecotourism. And THAT is not what is meant by the term ‘sustainable use’.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, and CITES, have strayed very far from the provisions of the World Conservation Strategy (1980). What this tells us is that neither one of these once august wildlife organisations have enough intestinal strength left to oppose the dictates of the all-powerful animal rights brigade. It is they, the animal rightist NGOs, who have caused and have spread the rot throughout the world!

The time has come for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to decide whether or not it should remain in CITES; or if it should leave this very corrupt convention and create a new trade bloc with China and the other countries of the Far East. The Western countries, through CITES, have demonstrated that they are not at all interested in, or cooperative with, Africa’s vision for a new order that seeks to create a state of symbiotic harmony between Africa’s people and its wildlife.

If the SADC countries stay with CITES, it can be predicted that such a desired, desirable and mutually beneficial relationship between man and nature, will never happen; that CITES will continue to undermine Africa’s efforts by denying international markets for the continent’s legitimately acquired wildlife products; that southern Africa’s wildlife industries and national parks will crash; and that the southern African people will lose all the wildlife and wild sanctuaries they are so proud of today.

The people of southern Africa CANNOT allow CITES, and/or the animal rightists in the Western World, to continue to dictate to them how we Africans should, or should not, manage our own wildlife; and/or whether we can or cannot trade in our own wildlife and wildlife products. To allow that state of affairs to continue is a recipe for total disaster.

It is the TGA’s opinion that CITES should be totally revamped, purged of its animal rightist elements, and reconstructed into a pro-active instrument that is specifically designed to help all African countries realise their sustainable-use-of-wildlife potentials. In this field, the CITES of today is a totally negative force. Its prohibition-at-all-cost mantra is out of step with reality in Africa. Facing the prospect of an unprecedented avalanche of humanity this century, Africa cannot allow itself to be pushed around anymore, like a dead fish, in the disastrously polluted waters of the CITES current.

Tempus fugit. The ‘people factor’ on the continent is getting very real very fast. Africa has to prepare itself for the potentially apocalyptic forces that will envelop the land later this century. If Africa does not put into practice NOW, wildlife management practices that will still be acceptable to society, and workable, a hundred years from now, Africa’s people will lose everything: all their wildlife; every one of their national parks; and the great potential that still exists for Africa’s unique wildlife resources to feed and succour the African society of tomorrow. The only solution is to develop symbiotic structures that will enable mankind and nature to live in harmony together, each one feeding off the survival benefits that it can derive from the other. And the CITES of today has demonstrated that it is not prepared to allow that to happen!

If the transformation recommended above is not possible, therefore, in their own survival interests, intelligent and responsible Parties should resign en masse, no matter what the consequences. And, if they don’t want to paddle their own canoes, they should create a new international wildlife trade organisation, with all the right credentials, to replace it.

There is, truly, no time to lose; no time to waste!

 

        

 

Ron Thomson

RON THOMSON His passion, today, is concerned with creating a better informed society – better informed, that is, about “best practice” wildlife management and the wise and sustainable utilization of our wild living resources for the benefit of mankind. He has a strong and passionate commitment to exposing the menace and iniquities of the animal rights doctrine. He is a founding member of the True Green Alliance (TGA) and, for the duration of 2016, he was its President. In January 2017 he was appointed CEO. The TGA is affiliated to South Africa’s wildlife Industry insofar as it has undertaken to fight the industry’s battles to overcome pernicious opposition from the South African and international animal rights movement.

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