CITES Tackles Trade Of Snake Skins, Long-Tailed Macaques In Asia

At the 25th CITES meeting in Geneva, experts addressed the illegal trade of snake skins for luxury products, and raised concern that Southeast Asia had become a hotspot for wildlife trade.

AsianScientist (Jul. 27, 2011) – The 25th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 18 to 22 July, 2011 with more than 200 delegates from 50 countries.

Experts expressed concern about level of trade in snake skins of three species of snakes used in luxury products, as well as long-tailed macaques used in biomedical research. Sturgeons, seahorses, and shark-fishing regulations also came under review.

The Committee examined recent recorded trade in three snake species originated in South-east Asia: Ptyas mucosus (Oriental rat snake), Python reticulatus (Reticulated python), and Naja sputatrix (Indonesian cobra). In Asia, snakes are consumed for food and traditional medicines. They are also sold as pets and their skins used to make luxury goods.

Conservation of snakes in Asia is vital because of the role they play within their ecosystems. If allowed to disappear from rice fields, their prey could cause devastating effects on agricultural production, food security, and national economies.

In this ‘Review of Significant Trade’, the committee largely endorsed snake-related recommendations identified in an earlier April 2011 workshop in Guangzhou, China that include tightening the controls on snake-breeding facilities and the supply chain for skin trade.

Some examples of Asian snakes in trade (scientific name, common name, major exporters) from the CITES trade database include:

Typical snakes
Ptyas mucosus (Oriental rat snake) – Indonesia (100% of global exports in this species)
Cerberus rhynchops (Dog‐faced water snake) – Indonesia (89%), Thailand (11%)

Python breitensteini (Borneo short‐tailed python) Indonesia (70%), Malaysia (30%)
Python brongersmai (Blood python) Malaysia (54%), Indonesia (46%)
Python curtus (Sumatran short‐tailed python) Malaysia (71%), Indonesia (39%)
Python molurus bivittatus (Burmese python)Vietnam (99%)
Python reticulatus (Reticulated python) Malaysia (47%), Indonesia (42%), Vietnam (11%)

Naja sputatrix (Indonesian cobra) Indonesia (100%)

The Committee also examined volumes of international trade in the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) used in biomedical research and originating mainly in China, Indonesia, and Cambodia. This macaque has experienced a rapid surge in international trade since 2004, with close to 30,000 live animals traded annually.

Mr Carlos Ibero, Chair of the Animals Committee, declared that Southeast Asia “ has become a sort of hotspot for wildlife trade”.

“This is due to the fact that it is a region rich in biodiversity with an increasing prosperous population as well as many people relying on wildlife for their living,” he added.

Experts also expressed concern about the shark-fin trade, and they planned a review of the implementation of the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks) requested by the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI). This Plan would lead to the inclusion of trade information and the review of shark regulations adopted by Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs), including stock assessments, ecological risk assessments, conservation and management measures.

Several endemic species from Madagascar, including chameleons and frogs, and seahorses from Southeast Asia, were also identified as a priority under the CITES Review of Significant Trade.

The Animals Committee also recognized the progress made in the conservation of the saker falcon (Falco cherrug) in Mongolia and endorsed the positive management regime for this species used for hunting activities in the Middle East. It agreed to Mongolia’s proposed export quota of 300 live specimens for 2011.


Source: CITES.
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