have launched an initiative urging the governments
of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
to sign the CMS Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation,
Restoration and Sustainable Use of the Saiga Antelope (Saiga
Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary of CMS, and Willem
Wijnstekers, Secretary General of CITES, as chief officers
of the Conventions, have written to the four Range States
asking each country to signal their intention to sign the
MoU by 15 July 2005.
Following Decisions 13.27 to 13.35 adopted by the 13th
meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES held in
Bangkok, October 2004, Range States are requested to complete
their internal consultations and to arrange with the CMS
Secretariat to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
This will send a strong signal to the Global Environment
and other donors about the commitment of the four Range
States. Activities on the MoU including a draft Action Plan
began in 2002 and have involved these Range States.
Saiga populations have been severely depleted by more than
90% over the last 13 years. CMS and CITES have taken the
lead in designing conservation measures to conserve the
species. Poaching to supply male horns to Asian markets
for medical use was one of the main causes for the population
‘crash’ from 1 million in to 31,000 individuals
between 1990 and 2003.
CMS and CITES aim to work together to restore the populations
of the Saiga Antelope to healthy levels throughout its range.
Monitoring, assessing natural and human induced threats,
examining the existing network of Protected Areas and captivity
breeding should contribute to this objective. WWF International
will closely collaborate with CMS and CITES to preserve
this unique species. CITES
are also organising a major enforcement workshop in
Urumqi, China in August 2005, which will include Saiga,
and which CMS will also attend. The MoU is essential as
a framework for joint action, and to attract funding from
the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other donors.
The Saiga Memorandum of Understanding is expected to be
open for signature at the 8th Meeting of the Conference
of the Parties to CMS in Nairobi in November.