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Monday
Mar052018

Ground-breaking study highlights scale of Africa-Asia wildlife trade

A Cape Fur Seal Arctocephalus pusillus on the coast of South Africa © Martin Harevy / WWF

Pretoria, South Africa, 5th March 2018—More than 1.3-million live animals and plants, 1.5-million skins and two thousand tonnes of meat from CITES-listed species have been exported from 41 African countries to East and Southeast Asia since 2006, a ground-breaking new TRAFFIC report funded by Arcadia[1] and published today reveals.

Download the full report Eastward bound: Analysis of CITES-listed flora and fauna exports from Africa to East and Southeast AsiaExports included 975 different taxa listed under either CITES[2] Appendix I (most endangered) or Appendix II (not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade is closely controlled).

In recent years, the focus on wildlife trade from Africa has centred on the illegal trade and the devastating onslaught on iconic species like elephants and rhinos. Comparatively little attention has been given to legal wildlife trade from the continent—until now.

This report, Eastward Bound[3], is the first of its kind and endeavours to shed light on legal trade trends, the diversity of species and countries involved, and new patterns emerging. It provides a comprehensive overview of legal trade from Africa to East and Southeast Asia and includes detailed regional and country analyses.

“Until now the legal wildlife trade between Africa and Asia has been largely overlooked but TRAFFIC’s new study aims to fill in some of the blanks in our understanding of this vast, complex and legitimate intercontinental exchange of natural resources,” said Willow Outhwaite, co-author of the study.

The report highlights significant changes and trends between 2006 and 2015, the most recent decade for which a fairly complete CITES trade dataset is available. Trade reported to CITES so far by member states for 2016 and 2017 has also been analysed to identify emerging patterns.

 

Among the report’s findings are that:

  • A total of 41 African countries[4] exported CITES-listed wildlife to 17 Asian countries/territories.
  • Live wildlife exports have generally increased since 2006 and the proportion of trade from captive sources increased from 42% in 2006 to a peak of 66% in 2013;
  • Some of the wildlife traded in the largest quantities were species that receive little political attention within CITES, notably Leopard Tortoises and Ball Pythons;
  • South Africa was the largest exporter of live birds, mammals and plants;
  • Namibia was, by far, the largest exporter of mammal skins, primarily those of Cape Fur Seals;
  • Over 91% of skins (1,418,487 of 1,558,794) exported from Africa were of Nile Crocodile.
  • The second most common mammal skin exported was of the African Elephant with 11,285 primarily exported from Zimbabwe and South Africa;
  • Madagascar was the only exporter of live amphibians to Asia;
  • Japan was the largest importer of live amphibians and arachnids;
  • Singapore imported the most live birds;
  • Hong Kong SAR dominated live reptile imports, most of which were Leopard Tortoises and Ball Pythons;
  • Zimbabwe was the largest exporter of reptile skins, followed by Zambia;
  • Just three species accounted for the reported meat exports: Nile Crocodile, European Eel and Cape Fur Seals;
  • The Republic of Korea was the largest importer of European Eels, followed by Hong Kong SAR;
  • More than 50 tonnes of Common Hippopotamus teeth were exported from Uganda and Tanzania, with Malawi emerging as a significant exporter in recent years.
  • Exports of live Mistletoe Cactus and other species in the same genus to Asia from Kenya and Tanzania abruptly began in 2015 (44,575 specimens)

The results of this project illustrate how CITES trade data can be used to understand wildlife trade dynamics better, highlighting major commodities and species in trade and the countries involved. The database—which is publicly accessible at https://trade.cites.org—is an important tool for monitoring species in trade, emerging trends and potential threats to listed species.  

A summary of trade in CITES-listed species between South Africa and Asia © TRAFFIC

This report was made possible with the generous support of Arcadia—a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.[1]

 

 

Further information:

Richard Thomas: richard.thomas@traffic.org
Tel: +441223 331981 or Mob: +447921 309176.

Images and infographics available here.

 


NOTES
[1] Arcadia is a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. Arcadia supports charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment. Arcadia also supports projects that promote open access and all of its awards are granted on the condition that any materials produced are made available for free online. Since 2002, Arcadia has awarded more than $500 million to projects around the world.
[2] CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
[3] Report full title: Eastward Bound: Analysis of CITES-listed flora and fauna exports from Africa to East and Southeast Asia by Willow Outhwaite and Lauren Brown is available from: www.traffic.org/storage/TRAFFIC-Africa-Asia-report.pdf.
[4] Out of a total of 54 countries, not all of whom submitted CITES records. The total of 41 whose records were analysed included the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
[5] About TRAFFIC

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