Over the last two weeks, SCI and SCI Foundation, along with other partner organizations, participated in the CITES 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19) advocating for sustainable use, proven conservation methods, and local community leadership. While in Panama, SCI/F’s delegation had productive meetings with community leaders, range state governments, and our partners and other stakeholders. 

SCI/F also circulated the sustainable use voting guide. Here were our top priorities, and their results: 

  • A proposal to increase restrictions on trade in hippo was rejected. 
  • A proposal to decrease restrictions on trade in southern white rhino from Namibia was partially rejected and partially adopted.
  • A proposal to increase restrictions on trade in elephants was rejected. 
  • An effort to prohibit trade in leopard hunting trophies was rejected. 
  • Two documents that would have resulted in increased input in CITES decision-making from indigenous peoples and local communities—who often support sustainable use programs, including hunting—were rejected.

Despite the notable successes to secure the trade in hunting trophies of several iconic African species, many range states, and the local communities that they support, were once again rebuffed by the global North that continues to ignore the needs of those who bear the biggest burdens of wildlife management.  At the closing plenary, the Secretary General of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Prof. Augustin Amuri, gave closing remarks on behalf of Angola, Botswana, Comoros, DRC, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. He said, in part, “Today CITES discards proven, working conservation models in favor of ideologically driven anti-use and anti-trade models. Such models are dictated by largely non-state actors who have no experience with, responsibility for, or ownership over wildlife resources and above all, with no resources that we southern African countries do have and conserve. The result has been failure to adopt progressive, equitable, inclusive and science-based conservation strategies.”

On behalf of the Community Leaders Network of Southern Africa, Dr. Rodgers Lubilo also made a closing statement advocating for the leadership of rural communities and African governments in the management of their wildlife and in international conservation decisions. Watch here. 

Range countries and local communities have a right to manage their wildlife and should be the leading voice at international decision-making bodies such as CITES. SCI will continue to advocate for this leadership and for hunting and sustainable use around the world.