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The longer term care of illegally-traded wild animals to be improved

Following the release of our report exposing the lack of information recorded around the fate of seized animals, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) this week announced it will explore an improved process

This week we, and several other animal welfare and conservation organisations, are celebrating a positive global move to better protect live wild animals after they are seized from smugglers by enforcement agencies.

The move follows publication of our recent report ‘Tip of an iceberg’, in collaboration with the University of Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), which called for action to strengthen data and better protect animals.

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At the world’s biggest wildlife conference, which ended in Johannesburg this week, signatories to CITES (a 183-government-strong treaty that regulates the wildlife trade and combats wildlife crime), committed to better reporting of trafficked wildlife, as well as pledging greater transparency around the outcomes for wild animals following their confiscation.

Plugging gaps in the system

Our report revealed that between 2010 and 2014, more than 64,000 live wild animals were seized by wildlife enforcement agencies. Yet information about seizure numbers and outcomes for the animals was severely lacking, as it has not been a formal CITES requirement.

We raised concerns that the animals may have been inappropriately handled and treated, or may even have re-entered illegal trade.

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A successful outcome

A draft resolution and two draft decisions were officially adopted at the recent conference, including:

  • an evaluation of current practices on the reporting of live wild animal seizures, and what happens to them after they have been confiscated by the CITES authorities in all countries
  • the development of a questionnaire to assess the usefulness of current guidelines on what to do with confiscated live wild animals (e.g. when and how to return them to the wild, whether to place them in captivity and under what conditions, or whether for humane reasons they should be euthanized).

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