Archive for the ‘COP16’ Category

Lanka won’t reveal shark secret

March 17, 2013

Malaka Rodrigo �reporting �from Bangkok – Sri Lanka maintained total silence on how it voted as an important proposal to protect sharks and manta ray species was passed earlier this week at the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) of Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES) in Bangkok.

Activists canvassing for the shark vote at the Bangkok conference

The proposal was passed with a clear majority after some tense proceedings as countries opposing the decision could canvass support from other countries and call for a re-vote. As expected Japan backed by India and Gambia challenged the decision on oceanic white-tip shark while China and Grenada had attempted to reopen the debate on the listing of the three hammerhead sharks. However, there was no revote in spite of attempts to reopen the debate.

It was widely speculated that China and Japan would pressurise Sri Lanka to vote their way but, Sri Lanka’s delegation head and Wildlife Conservation (DWC) Director General H.D. Ratnayake declined to comment on Sri Lanka’s position on the basis that it was a secret ballot.Following the favourable vote these species have been listed under Appendix-II of CITES and accordingly these species of sharks and manta rays will have to be traded with CITES permits following proof that they were harvested sustainably and legally.

Mr. Ratnayake said his department would work closely with the Fisheries Department and NARA to protect these species in Sri Lankan waters. He said this was just the beginning in an area where much more had to be done to protect Sri Lanka’s marine species. The Sunday Times last week reported on the importance of Sri Lanka voting in favour of the proposal to list oceanic white-tip shark, three species of hammerhead sharks and two species of manta ray. These are threatened species in Sri Lanka’s waters because of a big export market for their dried fins and gill plates.

(Please also see reletated )


Published on SundayTimes on 17.03.2013

Blood ivory a topic at International Forum on Wildlife Crime

March 17, 2013

Suspect traffickers arrested, stock seized in Lanka vital as probe continues� Malaka Rodrigo reporting from Bangkok

The poaching of elephants for tusks was another issue discussed at the many side events held parallel to the 16th Conference of Parties (COP16) at the Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The 16th Conference of Parties (COP16) in progress

The fate of the haul of ivory seized recently by Sri Lankan Customs was a hot topic at CITES and the Asian Development Bank side event ‘Symposium on Combating Wildlife Crime’. The senior representatives of Sri Lanka participating at the event said the ivory will not be distributed to the temples.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS representative Halke Elme confirmed Kenya has received a letter from Sri Lanka saying the ivory will not be released. KWS is the state agency of Kenya protecting its wildlife and based on the recent reports that the ivory is to be released, KWS has sent a letter querying Sri Lanka. Mr.Elme said KWS received the reply from the Sri Lanka Government a few days ago.

The representative from the Lusaka Agreement Task Force who was present at the CITES-ADB symposium praised Sri Lanka for the seizure of the ivory. Lusaka Agreement Task Force is a law enforcement institution which is also the Secretariat of the Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora. The representative said its officials had arrested suspects believed to be linked to the haul of ivory seized in Sri Lanka and added it is vital that the stock be kept as a criminal investigation is still ongoing.

A monk at Wat That Thong temple in Bangkok During a Buddhist merit-making ceremony to pray for the tens of thousands of elephants poached annually (c) WWF Thailand

A monk at Wat That Thong temple in Bangkok During a Buddhist merit-making ceremony to pray for the tens of thousands of elephants poached annually (c) WWF Thailand

Talking exclusively to the Sunday Times, CITES Secretary General John Scanlon said the convention also recognizes the role of transit countries to curb wildlife crime adding it is difficult to set up general rules for all the transit countries as the situation differs from one country to another. He said the CITES secretariat is aware of the seizure of the haul of the ivory by Sri Lanka Customs and subsequent attempt to release it to temples. Many of the Customs officers and other law enforcement officers present at the symposium shared the challenges they faced and their success stories at the CITES-ADB symposium on Wildlife Crime. It was also mentioned that over 1000 law enforcement officers were killed in trying to protect wildlife during the past decade.

Many of them were killed in Africa by well-armed elephant and rhino poachers, so it was not just the animal population that suffered, but also humans.
The level of interest seen in CITES about the haul of the ivory seized in Sri Lanka along showed that internationally Sri Lanka would get a black mark if we release the ivory for some other purpose. Sri Lanka Custom’s Samantha Gunasekera confirmed the stock of ivory is still in the Customs’ stores.
Thai Buddhist leaders prayed for poached elephants and called for the end to ivory use.

Published on SundayTimes on 17.03.2013

Symposium on Combating Wildlife Crime – Day3

March 17, 2013

“We need better intelligence and international corporation to curb Wildlife Crime” said the law enforcement officers participating the CITES-ADB Symposium on Combating Wildlife Crime. Being the last day, the participants were teamed into different groups for Breakout sessions on selected themes.  There were 3 Tracks on Technical Training on Special Investigative Techniques, Interactive Discussions on Wildlife Law, Policy and Governance, including barriers to Convictions and Interactive Discussions on Curbing Demand for Illegal Wildlife – Making Consumers Aware, Care.

Today is also special for me, since I had been a panelist of a session on “Multi-media, Social Media and Technology: Innovating for Wildlife”. I’ve started the session talking on importance of Social media in campaigning for wildlife also higlighting that Social media is yet to make a true penetration to some of the segments of public and experts in our part of the world. I’ve also shared the challenges I face on reporting Wildlife Crime. I was bit nervous to talk among giants in the field such as Brian Christy of NationalGeographic, but many has come to me after the panel, to having chat on different aspects I highlighted. I take this as an indication that I managed to deliver my first international talk successfully 🙂

Here are some of the moments from the last day of the Symposium on Wildlife Crime..!!

3 a panel 3 A press conference on Sharks 3 a session 3 a shark expert 3 an inteview 3 Bimba Tillekeratne 3 break out session 3 Breakout session on Technology - innovating for Wildlife 3 Breakout session 3 Brian Christy of NatGeo 3 briefing 3 CITES souvenior 3 DG of Wildlife Conservation SL 3 discussing cross boundary issues 3 Dr.Kala explaining something 3 Dr.Kala interviewing Brian Christy of NatGeo 3 Dr.Stampom 3 Final session of the Symposium 3 from press conference on Sharks 3 Hongkong based marketing guy delivering the lecture 3 John Scanlon speaking at the final session 3 MR at Interview 3 MR Delivering the lecture 2 3 MR Delivering the lecture 3 3 MR Delivering the lecture 3 MR in the panel 3 offline discussion 3 panel 2 3 preparing notes 3 press conference on sharks 3 sharing some intelligence 3 Sonja Fordham of Shark Advocates 3 Summarizing discussion of a session 3 3 Summarizing discussion of a session 3 Summarizing the outcome of a session 3 supportive staff 2 3 supportive staff

Symposium on Combating Wildlife Crime – Day1

March 10, 2013

“The Symposium on Combating Wildlife Crime” has been organized as a side event to the 16th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties. This is jointly organized by CITES Secretariat and Asian Development Bank (ADB) and participated by law enforcement officers from different parts of the world. Today (10.03.2013) was the Day 1 of the event that is also participated by the Secretary General of CITES; Mr.Johan Scanlon. The Secretary General stressed that the frontline on implementing the CITES law consist of Law Enforcement officers, hence the Symposium play a great significance.

In this post, I capture some of the moments of the Day 01 of the symposium.

z CITES logos

zADB Vice President

zCItes head

zHead of CITES

z wanhua Yang

zData slide




ZFrom a distant

zKala on opening remarks 2

zGroup of participants

zKala on opening remarks

zSession 1

zThin Line


z a panel

z Chinese delegate of CITES

z Cites

z Covering the event

z Dr.Tint

z dr.william - traffic

z Giovanni Broussard - UNODC

z Glen Sant - TRAFFIC

z Iona Botezatu - Interpol - Project Predator

z Joseph Okori

z Judge from Malaysia

z Justice from Lahore

z Last session

z Locations

z networking

z on Rhinos

z Panel on

z panel

z Poached Rhinos and arrest

z Wan Ziming

Z Prof.Fabio

z Question from the participants - judge

z Question from the participants

z Question on Agar Woods

z Shark fining cartoon

z Talking on IUU fishing

z Time keeping

Lanka urged to vote for sharks, manta rays

March 10, 2013

As the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora takes place in Bangkok, Malaka Rodrigo stresses on the need to save those species which are fast becoming a rarity in our waters

A crucial proposal on protecting sharks and manta ray species has stirred debates and discussions ahead of a vote at the ongoing Bangkok conference on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). �The Sunday Times learns the proposal would be put for a vote by secret ballot among CITES signatory nations at the conference where the Sri Lankan delegation is led by Wildlife Department Director General H.D. Ratnayake.

Sharks waiting to be auctioned

Attempts to contact Mr. Ratnayake to know how Sri Lanka would vote were not successful. �CITES is often hailed by scholars and conservationists as the most effective international environmental agreement to date. Sri Lanka was one of the 178 signatory countries that meet once in three years to discuss measures to protect wildlife species threatened by trade-driven over-exploitation.

The convention and its appendices list species that could be at risk and call for the control of import, export and re-export of such species through a permit system.

They also state that species that are already threatened with extinction cannot be commercially traded. �More than 30,000 such species are given trade protection through CITES and 70 new proposals have been presented at the conference — the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP 16).

Aquatic species top the conference agenda with proposals calling for the protection of shark and manta ray species among other threatened species. This species to be protected include oceanic white-tip shark, and three species of hammerhead shark and two species of manta ray — species found in Sri Lankan waters.

The hammerhead shark is notable for its unusual shape of the head which has given it its English name. Locally, it is known as “Udalu Mora”. There are three species of hammerhead sharks — scalloped hammerhead (sphyrna lewini), great hammerhead (sphyrna mokarran) and smooth hammerhead (sphyrna zygaena). The scalloped and great hammerhead sharks have already been listed as ‘endangered’ while smooth hammerhead sharks are considered ‘vulnerable’ to extinction, according to IUCN Red List.
Oceanic white-tip sharks (carcharhinus longimanus), said to be an aggressive species, live in deep waters, but fishermen have become more accustomed to kill them and as a result they are ‘vulnerable’ to extinction. Sharks and mantas live long and take time to mature sexually. Sharks and mantas have a long gestation period and produce only a few young.

Oceanic whitetip shark Pic courtesy Norbert Probst/Imagebroker/FLPA RM

Small bony fish, which have many predators, usually lay thousands of eggs during one spawning season for the survival of the species. Sharks, top predators themselves, give birth to a few young during their life time as they face no major threats. But the situation is different today and they too face a major threat with the humans invading the ocean and engaging in a killing frenzy.

But sadly, overfishing, driven by the high demand for shark fins and manta ray gill, does not allow the shark and manta populations to recover. Shark fin soup is a popular delicacy in China and other East Asian countries while manta gill plates are used in Chinese medicine. Hundreds of sharks are caught daily in Sri Lankan waters and there is a big export market for their dried fins.

If the CITES proposal is adopted, Sri Lanka will be required to introduce a permit system to regulate the export of shark and manta products. Welcoming the proposal, Dr. Hiran Jayawardane, former Chairman of the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), said large manta ray species were a rare sight today in our waters and it was indeed good to see efforts being made for their protection. “Not just hammerheads, but all shark species are under threat today due to large-scale fishing.”

Dr. Jayewardene said many countries such as the Maldives and Seychelles had taken measures to protect their marine resources which in turn benefitted them economically through tourism and other areas. �“We need a more enlightened and sophisticated approach to marine conservation,” Dr. Jayewardene said drawing attention to the upcoming Marine Conservation Forum organised by the Colombo-based Indian Ocean Marine Affairs Co-operation (IOMAC). The Forum will focus on international experience and inspire countries like Sri Lanka to be more compassionate towards marine life.

Fisheries Department Director General Nimal Hettiarachchie said the department was planning to start a monitoring programme on shark landings. He pointed out that Sri Lanka had already banned the catching of Thresher Shark, a species threatened with extinction.

Conservationists said if the catching continues in an unsustainable manner, sharks and manta rays would decline to a point that the entire trade will collapse. “So it is better to act now before it is too late. Let’s hope that Sri Lanka will take the right decision in joining hands with the rest of the world in protecting fish in the troubled waters,” one conservationist said.

Hammerheads sharks caught in Negombo. Sonja Fordham of Shark Advocates International inspecting them.

Published on SundayTimes on 13.03.2013 

CITES conference to adopt measures to combat overfishing, illegal logging and wildlife crime

March 3, 2013

The 16th Conference of Parties (COP16) of CITES starts today. This meeting will be particularly important for Sri Lanka as there are few proposal for enlisting Manta Ray (Maduwa in Sinhala) and Sharks in CITES Appendix II which will then need a permit system, if the country needs to export parts of these animals. The Gill Rakers of Manta Ray and Fins of the Sharks are on demand which made Sri Lanka one of the top Manta Ray gill rakers exporting country.

In addition there was a decision to release the 359 African Elephant tusks that has been seized by customs. CITES has banned trading of Elephant Ivory, so it is also not appropriate to encourage releasing ivory to the system and many calls to destroy the stock publicly. Hence, the CITES’ COP16 will be relevant to Sri Lanka in many angles and to follow up the proceedings, please follow Window-to-Nature..!!


CITES came into action in 1973 also completes 40 years in 2013. Here is an extract from CITES COP16 Media Kit..

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will hold its next triennial conference in Bangkok from 3 to 14 March to decide how to improve the world’s wildlife trade regime that has been in place for 40 years. Some 2,000 delegates representing 178 governments, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations and businesses are expected to attend and discuss, among other things, 70 proposals for amending the rules for specific species. Many of these proposals reflect growing international concern about the escalation of poaching and illegal trafficking of wild animals, the destruction of the world’s marine and forest resources through overfishing and excessive logging and the risks that wildlife crime represents for the security of the planet.

The 70 proposals submitted by 55 countries from across all regions of the world seek to improve the conservation and sustainable use of marine species (including several shark species) and timber species (including over a 100 species from Madagascar), the vicuña population of Ecuador, freshwater turtles, frogs, crocodiles, ornamental and medicinal plants and many other animals and plants. Proposals addressing elephants, white rhinoceros, and polar bears were also submitted.

This year, the 70 proposals1 will be divided up as follows:
– Animals: 48 proposals
– Plants: 22 proposals
– Transfer from Appendix I to Appendix II: 10 proposals
– Transfer from Appendix II to Appendix I: 12 proposals
– Inclusion into Appendix I: none
– Inclusion into Appendix II: 25
– Deletion from Appendix I: 7 􀃆 from which 6 exctinct animal species
– Deletion from Appendix II: 11 􀃆 from which 4 extinct animal species
– Annotations to the Appendices: 5

Click here to get the CITES PRESS KIT – CoP16 Bangkok 2013