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Green Balkans at the second International seminar for the implementation of CITES in the countries from the Central and Eastern Europe held in Kenya, Africa

Green Balkans at the second International seminar for the implementation of CITES in the countries from the Central and Eastern Europe held in Kenya, Africa

10.09.2012
This time the meeting was held in the period August 20-25th at a site, which is really exotic and emblematic for global nature conservation – Kenya, Africa. The main aim of the meeting was to allow for exchanging experience with Kenya Wildlife Service /KWS/ and it was attended by representatives of NGOs actively involved in the implementation of CITES, as well as the CITES responsible authorities from Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Ukraine. Another main conference topic was the conservation of the African elephant and the two rhino species (Black and White Rhino) through introducing regulations the trade on ivory and rhino horns within EU.

Other principle issues related to conserving rare species through enforcing regulations on their trade were also widely discussed, as well as issues concerning the implementation of CITES and the transposition of the Convention in the various national legislations all over the world. Hot topics regarding circus, private and zoo animal collections were also raised and discussed. The presentation of the KWS was among the most interesting ones. The truly impressed European delegates were introduced to the capacity and operation of this Service. I can responsibly say that there is no similar specialized institution in any part of Europe. KWS is operating with a staff of some 6000 people and an average annual budget of 75-80 million euro. The Service is a semi-military structure which often has to shoot back at poachers’ fire. The conference delegates also had the unique opportunity to experience the fascinating nature of the Tsavo National Park, where they encountered elephants, lions, zebras, many species of antelopes and gazelles, as well as a colourful variety of amazing birds.

Unfortunately on a global scale not much is done to support Kenya in conserving these wonderful species, due to the frequent politicizing of the decisions of the Conference of the Parties of CITES.

Brief history:

In 2007 EU supported the proposal of Botswana and Namibia /http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/14/prop/index.shtml/ for the sale on an enormous amount of ivory on stock, which, as the international nature conservation world suggested at that time, just increased the cases of poaching in Africa, where the elephants are found. Of course, in Hague, the Netherlands, these truly poor countries were explaining that they only wanted to improve the lives of their citizens and sell the ivory already on stock, which is otherwise unused.
This is true, but on the other hand the issue was principal and thus very important. There is legislation and in this case, the legislation is CITES.

It is good to also spend a minute thinking about the question raised by Kenya – “Are we obliged to take these 70 million euro from our just-as-poor tax payers and invest it in conserving species, also loosing the lives of our rangers?”

And if we really think about it, who is right?

Just as in our country, the nature conservation and protected areas legislation is clear in most of the cases, yet we often try to re-interpret or provide for exceptions, which in fact contradict the very notion of legislation. There are numerous such examples all over the world.

It is a real pity to see pictures of the bloody carcasses of 8-10 ton animals, killed for only two tusks or a single horn, needed to make ash-treys, figurines or lost in futile attempts to cure cancer or address other ridiculous beliefs.

For the Kenyans, the conservation of their invaluable natural heritage is a main priority and state policy. They have no other resource which is more valuable and tourism is their main livelihood. It is incredible that such a country where only 25 % of the population has access to electricity, has reached the conclusion that nature conservation is a main state priority. Come to think of it, and knowing our nature, history, geography and culture, I believe we could learn a lot from this African country and follow the same principles, which would enrich us not only financially but also spiritually.

More on the actions of Green Balkans related to the implementation of CITES can be found HERE.

More on CITES can be found HERE.

For more information, please contact:
Ivailo Klisurov – Green Balkans
Phone: +359 886570052,e-mail: iklisurov@greenbalkans.org