CITES, DEA, national and provincial conservation structures - abolish the whole damn lot.
An extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive report on the lion bone trade has now been published.
Prepared by Michele Pickover (EMS) and Smaragda Louw (BAT) and their teams, this report exposes the utter futility of the existing CITES –led conservation system. A group of passionate ladies has done what conservation structures have failed to do, namely, investigate the lion bone trade.
No magic involved. The activists simply took the CITES permits which are showered on animal abusers like confetti and verified the information given therein. They had to squeeze copies of the permits out of a secretive and uncooperative SA Department of Environmental Affairs by means of parliamentary questions and applications under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
They then checked the information given by the exporters and importers of the lion bones. For example if the importer was stated to be Woo Flung Dung at a particular address in Lao PDR or Vietnam, their investigator simply visited the address.
Surprise! Surprise! Most if not all of the names and addresses were either fictitious or false in material respects and linked to internationally known criminal wildlife traffickers. In other words, the entire conservation structure right from CITES down to national and provincial conservationists has been exposed to be a useless bureaucracy. It is quite apparent that CITES permits are being issued to the wrong people for no good reason without any attempt at verification.
Taxpayers’ money that funds these are useless provincial, national and international structures are completely wasted. All existing conservation structures should be abolished on the ground that they serve no useful purpose and replaced with structures that actually try to protect our wildlife.
The narrow interpretation of sustainable use adopted by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and provincial structures render themselves irrelevant. How can one possibly tell whether species are sustainably used by simply counting numbers? Surely the condition of the animals should be considered. Are they free-roaming and functioning in the wild? Or are they miserable prisoners being kept by the hundred in small cages at lion abattoirs awaiting slaughter?
South African conservation structures say that this makes no difference to them because the condition and welfare of the animals is “outside their mandate”. So what is the point of them?
If CITES and all conservation structures in Africa and Asia were abolished tomorrow there would not even be a ripple. Nothing would change. The free-for-all that currently exists would simply continue, because rapacious and ruthless Asian wildlife traffickers are always ten steps ahead of the useless bureaucracies that pretend to control them.
A few activists have done more for lion conservation than the whole elaborate, bloated, dysfunctional conservation system in South Africa. It would be comical if it were not so tragic.