The Task Force will discuss challenges that affect enforcement and implementation of laws regarding illegal trade in big cats
The 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) adopted the decision on a Big Cat Task Force from the previous COP with a few amendments, a day before its closing November 25, 2022.
The modus operandi for the Task Force has been finalised to curb illegal trade in big cats like lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, etc, in the range and destination countries.
The CITES Secretariat has proposed a tentative budget of $150,000 for the Task Force which will be secured by external funding from the United States.
The aim of the Task Force will be to discuss the challenges that affect enforcement and implementation of laws regarding the illegal trade in big cats and the similarities between it and illegal trade in other species to identify the gaps.
Parties that may be affected by illegal trade in big cats include 44 countries across the world including Russia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kenya and South Africa.
Participation of these Parties in the Task Force could facilitate and promote exchanges concerning possible best practices and solutions.
The Task force will include China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, USA and Vietnam as the key Parties to tackle the illegal trade in illegal trade in Asian big cat specimens.
It will also include representatives from the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime partner organizations.
The draft decision has listed cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), mainland clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi), lion (Panthera leo), jaguar (Panthera onca), leopard (Panthera pardus), tiger (Panthera tigris) and snow leopard (Panthera uncia) as species that are of priority concern.
The Task Force will share information about the status, scale, and dynamics of illegal trade of big cat species listed in the CITES appendix. It will provide a platform for exchange of information about techniques, tools and processes for identifying big cat specimens in illegal trade and a better roll-out of these to countries dealing with such problems.
It will discuss about demand for live big cats, big cat parts and derivatives and the implications it has for illegal trade and detect attempts to pass off illegally captured big cats or parts as legal trade of different species.
It will study the impact of legal domestic markets as a driver of illegal trade in big cat species and develop strategies to improve cooperation among parties for enforcement of CITES to address the issues.
The Secretariat will provide support to the Task Force to develop strategies to improve international cooperation to enforce CITES protocols to curb the trade in big cats.
It will also address issues that pose a challenge in enforcement and implementation of laws regarding illegal trade. Findings of the Task Force will be presented to the Standing Committee for further recommendations to big cat range countries.
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