The PEGAS Project Manager attended the 65th CITES Standing Committee meeting held in Geneva on July 7-11, representing Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The CITES Standing Committee “…provides policy guidance to the Secretariat concerning the implementation of the Convention and oversees the management of the Secretariat’s budget. Beyond these key roles, it coordinates and oversees…the work of other committees and working groups; carries out tasks given to it by the Conference of the Parties; and drafts resolutions for consideration by the Conference of the Parties.” The Standing Committee also initiates action to suspend trade as a sanction against Parties (ie. countries) that egregiously break the rules.
This was a particularly important Standing Committee meeting as there were several significant agenda items concerning various species and issues. Over 400 participants attended, the largest in history. As usual, most of the discussion was devoted to elephants, rhinos and big cats, with pangolins making a breakthrough as a big issue as well. Great apes languished in obscurity, as usual, although several NGOs and UNEP tried to bring more discussion to the floor.
The CITES Secretariat, ably assisted by the Standing Committee chairman Øystein Størkersen, managed to prevent the requested formation of a Great Apes Working Group. Only through a working group could the evidence related to great ape trafficking be adequately examined and remedies proposed. The Secretariat continues to try to minimize the issue and thus avoid taking action. See Why are great apes treated like second-class species by CITES? and a PEGAS report addressing the issue for more details.
The PEGAS Project Manager met and networked with many representatives of governments, the UN and NGOs, but attendance was principally a learning experience in how best to plan strategies to get something effective achieved in future with CITES for great apes. Plans are accordingly in the works for the 66th CITES Standing Committee meeting to be held in January 2016, followed by the crucial 17th CITES Conference of the Parties to be held later that year in South Africa.
Mwanzo and her baby Angela at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
PEGAS hosted a media event at Serena Sweetwaters Tented Camp on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Several journalists attended and were briefed on the trafficking crisis facing great apes and the objectives of PEGAS to put an end to it. Here are two of the articles the media event produced: “Slavery” driving apes to extinction, conservationists say and The story of the traffic in Africa’s great apes.
The PEGAS Project Manager attended the first United Nations Environment Assembly at the UNEP headquarters in Gigiri in late June. What previously was known as the Governing Council, which the Project Manager remembers well from his days as a staff member of UNEP in the 1980s and consultant in the 1990s, has grown considerably from a gathering mainly of Permanent Representatives and United Nations organizations into a full-blown global forum bringing together various government, IGO, NGO and civil society stakeholders. Wildlife and natural resource trafficking was a main consideration of this Environment Assembly. A UNEP-INTERPOL Rapid Response Assessment on Environmental Crime was released.
The PEGAS Project Manager liaised with many of the assembly participants to introduce the new PEGAS initiative to them and raise the profile of great ape trafficking, which remains a largely ignored issue when compared to elephant, rhino and big cat poaching and illegal trade.
Welcome to the new, dedicated website for the Project to End Great Ape Slavery (PEGAS). We are entering a busy phase in our campaigns to disrupt the illegal flow of great apes from Africa to the major overseas markets, to repatriate them where possible, and to continue caring for rescued apes at our home base at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya.
We will be bringing you regular updates on our activities in the feed below. We also maintain a Facebook page and invite you to join us there. In addition, we offer a selection of articles and publications by Daniel Stiles and other figures in the conservation field. Click on the Reports and Publications tabs to access this material.
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