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Re: CITES revisited

  • Subject: Re: CITES revisited
  • From: Jill Bell <godjillab@home.com>
  • Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2001 09:49:31 -0500 (CDT)

Dear Jay,
I think that your post dealt with the crux of the problem.  I am a parrot
person, too, and I am well aware of the never ending quandary that exists
with these poor birds.  What the hope is for them is Eco-tourism, while
giving jobs to the poachers.
In some similar way, could this not exist in the horticultural communities
as well, although it would require all of us that has a lust for the
rarities of the particular plant kingdoms involved to subvert the desire to
acquire.  (I certainly am not above these desires, so I speak to myself as
I think that what we can acquire is knowledge of the laws and how they work,
and your post certainly was informative in that way to me; and a way to
appeal to those laws.  That is a tall order, but I agree with you that to
wait and watch it all go is pointless.
I am going to ask a question that is probably very simplistic, as I have
never done any tissue culturing myself and I do not understand the ins and
outs, but is it possible to collect samples of the correct parts of some
rarities where they exist without causing huge damage to the plants and
therefore collect these instead of the plants themselves for the longevity
of the species and for eventual sales, too, if that is the way to fund such
exploits?  I suggest of course that a collection of Botanical Gardens and
Universities get these specimens as part of the plan to propagate and
sustain the rarities in their original forms.
Perhaps I am being way too optimistic in my thinking that such things could
be dealt with in this manner, but usually money is at the root (so to speak)
of any quandary of this magnitude, and this would be a way for all to get
what they want.
Call me Pollyanna!
Best Regards,
Jill Bell
Illustration, Graphic Design, Web Design and Digital Photography

on 7/27/01 8:42 PM, Jay Vannini at interbnk@terra.com.gt wrote:

> Greetings, fellow aroid-amig@s:
> Perhaps because I reside in a country where differences of opinion are
> expressed via Molotov cocktails and automatic weapons' fire, I really do
> relish a civil debate. Thus far, this exchange seems to be just this, in
> spite of unambiguous differences of opinion on the forum regarding Josť
> Portillo's alleged actions.
> Steve Marak has spoken a mouthful when he says that no-one's
> opinion/position ever seems to change during these arguments on the internet
> forums; he is quite correct, probably because it is an incredibly complex
> issue that sparks strong emotions from wild-eyed plant collectors and less
> fanatical gardeners alike. Having worked around tropical flora and fauna
> quite a bit, I have come to the conclusion that there are a number of groups
> that inspire the most incredible acquisitive lust from some of the human
> populace (including me). They are cacti & succulents, cycads, orchids,
> psittacine birds, raptors utilized in falconry, and reptiles & amphibia. All
> are well-represented in the CITES appendices, most generate huge commercial
> trade figures, and all generate a considerable amount of acrimony when their
> exploitation and protection is discussed. Having seen both sides of the
> trade of all of the above, I would have to refute the statement made here
> that persons genuinely interested in conservation would NEVER knowingly
> violate the laws designed to protect wild plants and animals. No surprise -
> many professionals can see shades of gray, when it is convenient to do so
> for their own ends.
> As for us sauntering into less-developed countries and cleaning out cultural
> patrimony with a song on our lips - come on, read the papers or watch the
> news, brother - that's EXACTLY what is done, and the debate about this has
> been going on for at least 200 years. Almost every one of the western
> world's major museums has this kind of ethical/legal thorn in its side
> relating to "filched" Greco-roman, precolombian, Egyptian or Khmer artifacts
> (e.g. the Elgin Marbles and the British Museum) and the number of returns to
> countries of origin are, to put it mildly, not breathtaking.
> Reggie Whitehead prefaced his comments about the tragic destruction of
> ancient forest in Borneo with a clear and eloquently expressed example of
> the existence of bad laws that were widely applauded by Joe Public in their
> heyday. CITES, while not a bad law, continues to be misunderstood by both
> the general populace and bureaucrats. It is a trade monitoring treaty, not a
> wildlands conservation tool, nor a "red" list where species NOT threatened
> by commercial trade, but rather by habitat loss, belong. Born as the
> Washington Convention, I have heard it referred to as the love child of
> well-meaning wildlife preservationists and the worst elements of the
> European reptile hide trade. While I definitely agree that CITES has its
> merits, one has to question its efficacy as a trade reduction mechanism,
> since the U.S. has recently had to enact ADDITIONAL legislation specifically
> designed to prohibit import of tiger and rhino "spare parts", already
> covered under CITES (both groups are conspicuous on App. I). The USFWS is
> the government body charged with overseeing the implementation of CITES
> regulations in the U.S. Their law enforcement division by and large does
> some incredibly good work, but like any police force, has its share of
> zealots and creeps. As long as the general populace believes that wild plant
> and animal collectors are all hybrids of Hitler and Jabba the Hut,
> prosecutors will feel inspired to persecute them, little and big guy alike.
> It is, after all, much easier to point the finger at wildlife/plant
> smugglers as being the only culprits leading organisms down the path to
> extinction than at ourselves as the principal consumers of tropical products
> harvested from, or grown on, deforested landscapes.
> On another front, CITES has many quirks, one of which is the "look-alike"
> provision, which basically provides blanket protection to non-threatened
> organisms that are visually similar to the "threatened" target. This
> includes some common cycads, many abundant orchids, roadside weed Nepenthes
> species, etc. This really does seem silly. Likewise, the auctioning of
> seized wildlife products by the USFWS once they have served their
> evidentiary role is simple bloody hypocrisy. Like Kenya has done with its
> seized poached ivory stocks - torch this stuff if it's a *point* that you
> want to make, rather than a *buck*.
> I admit that I feel genuine sympathy for anyone who gets busted for bending
> the rules when it relates to this particular issue. Grimace at this ethical
> lapse if you must. At the same time, I understand that law enforcement has a
> job to do, and that society has decided that these are the rules we are
> supposed to play by. If it is true that Portillo admitted on tape to
> "fudging" the origin of a protected plant, I suspect that he's in a heap of
> trouble, if not in the U.S., certainly in Ecuador, where his local authority
> is going to end up with egg on its face. Ecuagenera is, as I pointed out in
> a previous post, a well-known orchid exporter, and he is going to have a
> hard time pleading ignorance of the rules of the game. Bummer - one should
> always remember the 11th Commandment (just kidding, Big Brother).
> Who is on the "right" side of the "gray market poaching" debate remains to
> be seen. I try to remain neutral, but I do suspect that history will show us
> to have been sanctimonious twits who sat around and earnestly debated the
> gender of angels against a backdrop of the world's natural patrimony going
> up in smoke.
> Peace -
> Jay

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