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African countries have potential to influence
negotiations at Wold Wildlife Conference: minister

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) -- African countries have the potential to influence the negotiations at the upcoming World Wildlife Conference, South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said on Tuesday.

South Africa will support proposals and working documents that promote sustainable use of natural resources, provided they have a scientific basis and are aimed at securing the long term conservation of the species, Molewa said at a press briefing on preparations for the conference, officially known as the meeting of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17).

South Africa will host the conference from September 24 to October 5 in Johannesburg.

This will be the fourth Conference of the Parties to CITES to be held on the African continent since 1975.

An estimated 3,500 delegates to CITES CoP17 will attend the conference. This not only includes ministers and government representatives from the member countries, but also representatives from inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, civil society and other stakeholders, Molewa said.

South Africa is a founding member of CITES. The Convention was adopted on March 3, 1973, but only came into force on July 1, 1975. Today, 183 Parties are signatory to the Treaty, which has as its aim to ensure that international trade in specimens of listed wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival in the wild.

More than 120 documents will be considered during the conference. Among these documents, 60 are proposals to amend the lists of species subject to CITES trade controls.

The Conference will also deliberate on the role of CITES in securing the livelihoods of people living with wildlife and ensuring communities are considered in terms of interventions implemented in terms of the Convention. Other issues to be discussed include the legal and sustainable wildlife trade, measures to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking, and enhanced enforcement.

Topics such as interventions to address the poaching of elephant, the proposed listing of elephant, lion, rosewood species and sharks, as well as the illegal trade in rhino horn and pangolin, are probably the areas that will receive the most attention, according to Molewa.

South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia have proposed for international trade in elephant ivory. Other 29 African countries are against the idea. Swaziland is also lobbying for the legalization of the sale of rhino horns.



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