CMS Action Against Wildlife Crime Presented at IUCN Technical Meeting

Bonn, 23 July 2018 – From 12 to 13 July 2018, CMS attended the Technical Meeting of Experts regarding the IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC) Resolution 70 on “Crimes against the Environment”, hosted by the IUCN Environmental Law Centre in Bonn, Germany.

Participants from ten international organizations, including UN agencies, IGOs and NGOs met and shared their experiences in response to crimes against the environment and wildlife. CMS showcased its work on the issues of wildlife crime affecting avian, terrestrial and aquatic species and discussed with the international experts on legislation, enforcement and compliance in illicit wildlife trade and conservation of those species. The CMS presentation can be viewed here.

Ms. Polina Orlinskiy and Ms. Yelizaveta Protas provided an introduction to CMS, and details on activities related to  terrestrial species. Acknowledging that poaching, unsustainable use and illegal trade affect a wide variety of terrestrial species, CMS works in close collaboration with other organizations to address these complex threats. Particularly, CMS and CITES cooperation is formalized in their Joint Work Programme, which aims, inter alia, to raise awareness, raise funds and inform decision-makers to ensure sustainable use and to counteract illegal trade in wildlife. In Central Asia, for example, CMS works to protect the Saiga Antelope by bringing together the Range States of the species to agree on conservation measures, including those to control poaching and illegal trade. Medium-Term International Work Programmes for the Saiga Antelope are adopted by representatives of Saiga Range States and Consumer States every five years. CMS also promotes conservation and sustainable use of the Argali sheep with close involvement of local communities through the International Single Species Action Plan on the Argali. In Africa, the joint CMS-CITES African Carnivore Initiative (ACI) strives to conserve large carnivores, such as the Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and African Wild Dog. In November 2018, CMS will host the first ACI Range State meeting in Bonn, Germany to discuss conservation strategies for these species. Furthermore, CMS is establishing the Terrestrial and Avian Wild Meat Working Group to better understand the state and extent of direct and indirect impacts of wild meat.

Ms. Laura Aguado, CMS Coordinator for the Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean (MIKT), highlighted the issue of illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean region, where approximately 25 million wild birds are taken mostly for food and sport every year. Addressing the gravity and urgency of this problem, the CMS Task Force was established in 2014 to enhance international cooperation and support countries towards effective law enforcement responses. MIKT currently counts 20 Member States and 37 observers and advisory bodies. The Task Force’s comprehensive Programme of Work includes a tool to assess progress through a scoreboard framework and specialized workshops for legal officers. This successful Task Force model is being replicated for the East-Asian-Australasian Flyway, another region facing a large number of cases of illegal killing. CMS is currently establishing the Intergovernmental Task Force to address the Illegal Hunting, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the East-Asian-Australasian Flyway (ITTEA) in cooperation with the East-Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and BirdLife International.

Ms. Heidrun Frisch-Nwakanma of the Aquatic Species Team addressed concerns surrounding the increasing demand for aquatic wild meat, the aquatic and marine counterpart of terrestrial bushmeat. As coastal communities’ access to basic resources has become more restricted, there was increasing evidence that incidental catches of aquatic mammals and reptiles had changed into targeted hunting. Under the leadership of the CMS Scientific Council’s Aquatic Mammals Working Group, a report prepared in 2017 identified that species ranged from cetaceans to sirenians, turtles and crocodiles are harvested for subsistence and traditional purposes, often through unregulated, and sometimes illegal, hunting and bycatch. In response, CMS Parties created an Aquatic Wild Meat Working Group to provide advice on the matter. In addition, CMS collaborates with other organizations, such as the Abidjan Convention through the Abidjan Aquatic Wildlife Partnership, and CITES, with which a joint study is investigating the legal and illegal international trade in marine turtles, inter alia to research its status, scope and trends, conservation impacts and management options, and to identify areas where immediate mitigation efforts may be needed.

CMS and participating organizations welcomed the opportunity to share their projects and expertise to increase the capacity to address and respond to crimes against the environment.  Closer collaboration amongst the international community is necessary to develop comprehensive strategies to combat environmental crime and conserve the affected species. The last part of the meeting was a brainstorming session. Attendees raised different ways of continuing work, including the possible formation of a Specialist Group.

Last updated on 12 September 2018