[You are here: News > Press Release ]

Press Release

CITES to discuss initiatives to dismantle criminal networks involved in tiger and rhino poaching
15/ 03/ 2010

CITES to discuss initiatives to dismantle criminal networks involved in tiger and rhino poachingDelegates and enforcement experts attending the CITES summit in Qatar will discuss this week the perilous state of tigers in the wild and the nature of poaching and illegal trade in tigers.

Doha, 15 March 2010 - Delegates and enforcement experts attending the CITES summit in Qatar will discuss this week the perilous state of tigers in the wild and the nature of poaching and illegal trade in tigers. The CITES Secretariat, in conjunction with INTERPOL, is calling for countries to submit information about crime against tigers, so that it can be analysed and effective anti-poaching strategies developed.
In the early 1900s, tigers were found throughout Asia and numbered over 100,000. Current estimates indicate that less than 3,200 of these remain in the wild. Tigers are today primarily poached for their skins but almost every part of a tiger's body can be used for decorative or traditional medicinal purposes. Most tigers are now restricted to small pockets of habitat, with several geographical populations literally teetering on the brink of extinction.
The CITES community will learn of progress being made by the Global Tiger Initiative, a partnership of governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations, who are working collaboratively to save the tiger. The Initiative's next major event will be in Vladivostok, Russian Federation, in September 2010, when Prime Minister Putin will host a meeting of heads-of-state to commit political will for tiger conservation.
It is almost four decades since the world realized that tiger numbers were falling alarmingly. Between the 1970s and 2010, governments and the conservation community spent tens of millions of dollars trying to save this magnificent animal. Millions of dollars, euros, pounds, rupees and yuans continue to be spent.
"If we use tiger numbers as a performance indicator", says CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers, "then we must admit that we have failed miserably and that we are continuing to fail. How have we let this happen? Although the tiger has been prized throughout history, and is a symbol of incredible importance in many cultures and religions, it is now literally on the verge of extinction. 2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger and the International Year of Biodiversity; this must be the year in which we reverse the trend. If we don't, it will be to our everlasting shame."
Aside from its significance as a 'flagship' species, the tiger is also a marvellous indicator of the health of our forests. Falling tiger numbers also ring an alarm bell in relation to loss of habitat, human encroachment into important areas of biodiversity and wilderness, conflict between tigers, humans and livestock and wildlife crime.
Protected from international commercial trade through its listing in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), tigers still suffer significantly from illegal trade. They are poached for their skins and body parts, which are used for decorative and traditional medicine purposes.
Delegates at CITES CoP15 will also consider the escalation of rhino poaching and the approaches to fight criminal networks involved in the increasing illegal trade in their horns in parts of Africa and Asia. Whereas the tiger is suffering from threats such as loss of habitat and tiger numbers have been steadily declining, this is not the case for rhinoceroses. The early- and mid-1990s saw rhino numbers grow encouragingly in many of its range States. There were dramatic recoveries and poaching of this animal became fairly infrequent.
However, in the mid-2000s, rumours emerged that rhinoceros horn could stave off cancer or halt its spread in people suffering from the disease. Rhinos in countries such as India, South Africa, Nepal and Zimbabwe now appear to be killed by organized crime groups that control the smuggling of rhino horns to the far east of Asia, where they are sold on the black market for thousands and thousands of dollars.
South Africa and Zimbabwe have seen dramatic increases in rhino poaching in the past
2-3 years, where over 300 animals are estimated to have been illegally killed. The 'shoot to kill' policy adopted by some governments in Africa does not seem to be deterring poachers and one national park store was even robbed at gunpoint, so that horns removed by park staff from rhinos that had died naturally could be stolen.
CITES calls upon its partners, such as INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Customs Organization to join it in this war against organized crime that seeks to rape the world's natural resources.
For more information, please contact Juan Carlos Vasquez at +974-4175621 or +974-5692804 (cell), or juan.vasquez@cites.org

Further Resources



University of Finland and UNEP - 12th Course on Multilateral Environmental Agreements
2-12 November 2015, Shanghai, China

The Special theme of the Twelfth Course is Climate Change.

2nd UNEP-INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee Conference
16-17 November 2015, INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation, Singapore

At the 2nd ECEC in Singapore, INTERPOL and UNEP brought together Chief Executives from Environmental Security and Enforcement agencies from INTERPOL member countries, as well as Chief Executive Officers from international and non-governmental organizations, to design and debate strategies to tackle environmental crime and achieve sustainable development goals.

Annual Meeting UNEP- EUROCLIMA (EC Programme to support Policy Dialogue on Climate Change issues in Latin American countries)

Special session of the Commission on Environment of the PARLATINO(Latin American Parliament) on Climate Change law.

27-28 October 2015, Panama

Global Training Programme on Environmental Law and Policy for Mid-career Government Officials

05-13 October 2015, Nairobi, Kenya

Meeting of the Senior Government Officials Expert in Environmental Law on Mid-term review of the Montevideo Programme IV

7-11 September 2015, Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo Programme Environmental Law Seminar: Laws to Promote environmental sustainability of oceans and seas
9-10 July, Panama City, Panama

Montevideo Programme Environmental Law Seminar: Legal Foundation for Environmental Sustainability

13-14 July 2015, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Meeting of Eminent Legal Experts on the Midterm review of the Montevideo Programme IV

15-16 July 2015, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Regional Training on Negotiations for Multilateral Environmental Agreements Focusing on UNFCCC and CBD as they relate to Regional Seas Convention
11-13 May 2015, Jeddah Kingdom, Saudi Arabia

Meeting of Climate Change Negotiators of Latin America and the Caribbean
14-15 May 2015, Santiago de Chile 

Regional Meeting of negotiators in preparation for Climate Change multilateral negotiators (exchange of views and discussion of key topics for the region towards COP21)

International Day for Biological Diversity 2015
22 May 2015

Biodiversity for Sustainable Development

This year’s theme reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period of 2015-2030 and the relevance of biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.

Launch of The UNEP Sourcebook 

officially launched at a side event in the margins of Ramsar COP 12 - 8 June 2015, Punta del Este, Uruguay

The aim of the Sourcebook is to provide National Focal Points of the major Biodiversity-related Conventions as well as other stakeholders working on these conventions, with options to achieve enhanced implementation of the conventions through enhanced cooperation.

Preparatory Workshops for Paris UNFCCC COP for 2015 for Least Developed countries

June 2015, Bonn, Germany

Second Congress on Environmental Policy, Law and Justice Seminar on Environmental Crimes

6-10 July 2015, La Habana, Cuba

Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law(OAS website)
30-31 March 2015, Montego Bay, Jamaica 

The Organization of American States (OAS) co-organized the First Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law in Montego Bay, Jamaica, an event that concluded with a call to strengthen the rule of law on to address environmental challenges in the Americas.

Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development

4 May 2015, UN Headquarters, New York, Conference Room 11