The CITES Conference of Parties (CoP17) Committee I – the Committee that reviews species-based proposals – has made recommendations on three different proposals. Now out of Committee, these proposals will be voted on in plenary by the CITES Parties during the final days of the CoP17. The plenary vote will very likely adopt the Committee’s three recommendations.
Canada’s proposal to remove wood bison from its current status under Appendix II passed unanimously through the Committee. Wood bison do not meet the biological criteria for any CITES listing; trade in the species is not a concern for their survival and illegal trade is not an issue.
Active wood bison recovery efforts have led to a 47% population increase since 2000. Today, there are an estimated 9,000 across Canada. SCI Foundation played a vital role in reintroducing wood bison to the United States, releasing 100 individuals in the Innoko River area of Alaska in 2015. The recovery of bison is one of North America’s greatest conservation success stories, and having bison back on the Alaskan landscape is a major accomplishment.
Cape Mountain Zebra
The Committee also unanimously recommended adoption of South Africa’s proposal to transfer Cape mountain zebra from Appendix I to Appendix II. This transfer opens up opportunities in trade, increasing the zebra’s economic value to stakeholders in South Africa. A hunting quota will be implemented in South Africa’s management plan, and private land owners will be incentivized to invest in Cape mountain zebra conservation, further expanding their potential range.
This zebra subspecies, endemic to South Africa, has made a remarkable recovery from only 80 individuals in the 1950s to nearly 5,000 across their historic range today. The Cape mountain zebra is yet another conservation success story in South Africa and a win for the sustainable use community.
Eastern and Western Tur
A third proposal by the European Union and Georgia to list all CITES recognized tur subspecies on Appendix II was also recommended for adoption. The original proposal included a zero quota for wild-taken Western tur exported for commercial purposes or as hunting trophies. Importantly, however, the Committee amended the proposal to remove the zero quota provision. For hunters, this provision would have prohibited trade in hunting trophies of Western tur, effectively ending sustainable-use conservation programs.
The tur is a wild goat endemic to the Great Caucasus Mountains of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia. Russia and Azerbaijan are the only range states with legal hunting programs. Hunting brings in substantial amounts of revenue and is important for the conservation of tur. In Georgia, where hunting is prohibited, tur populations have suffered greatly, and the country lacks financial resources to implement management plans. Safari Club is pleased that the conservation benefits of hunting tur in Russia and Azerbaijan have been preserved.