Sunday, 1 July 2018

Stop CITES And Congolese Government From Exporting Virunga Gorillas And Wildlife to China

Multiple species of highly protected/endangered wildlife will be shipped to China soon from the DR-Congo. These include six gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), eight Bonobos, eight chimpanzees, four manatees, and ten Okapis per zoo.

Two zoos = double the number

- 12 gorillas

- 16 bonobos

- 16 chimpanzees

- 8 manatees

- 20 Okapis

The Species

Gorilla beringei beringei: Critically Endangered

Eastern Gorillas (Gorilla beringei) live in the mountainous forests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, northwest Rwanda and southwest Uganda. This region was the epicentre of Africa’s “world war”, to which Gorillas have also fallen victim. The Mountain Gorilla subspecies (Gorilla beringei beringei), has been listed as Critically Endangered since 1996.

Bonobos: Endangered

Due to high levels of illegal hunting, and habitat destruction and degradation, Pan paniscus is estimated to have experienced a significant population reduction in the last 15–20 years and it is thought that this reduction will continue for the next 60 years.

Currently, by far the greatest threat to the Bonobo’s survival is poaching for the commercial bushmeat trade. It has been estimated that nine tons of bushmeat are extracted daily from a 50,000-km² conservation landscape within the Bonobo’s range.

Chimpanzees: Endangered

Although Pan troglodytes is the most abundant and widespread of the great apes, and many populations exist in protected areas, the declines that have occurred are expected to continue, satisfying the criteria for an Endangered listing (Oates 2006).

Due to high levels of poaching, infectious diseases, and loss of habitat and habitat quality caused by expanding human activities, this species is estimated to have experienced a significant population reduction in the past 20–30 years and it is suspected that this reduction will continue for the next 30–40 years.

Manatees: Vulnerable

The level of threats, particularly hunting and incidental catches, appears to be continuing to increase throughout range with locally high rates and near extirpation in some regions.

Lack of protein and continued poverty for human populations, and limited enforcement of national laws, are expected to drive increasing illegal hunting levels.

Destruction of coastal areas due to development, mangrove harvesting, siltation and dams are resulting in reduced habitat. We infer a high probability that a 30% or greater reduction in population size will result within a 90 year three generation period.

Okapi: Endangered

Okapi have been undergoing a decline since at least 1995 that is ongoing and projected to continue, in the face of severe, intensifying threats and lack of effective conservation action which is hindered by the lack of security.

The rate of decline is estimated to have exceeded 50% over three generations (24 years), based on figures from surveys in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Réserve de Faune à Okapis; RFO) suggesting a 43% decline over the period 1995-2007, which some reports suggest continued in the period thereafter.

The RFO remains the best protected site and it is inferred that the rate of decline here is at least equalled in other parts of the Okapi range.

These species, some of which are endemic to the DRC, will end up in Taiyuan and Anji Zhongnan Zoos in China.

Taiyuan Zoo

A lion at a zoo in China apparently ate part of its tail after keepers apparently forgot to feed it. The case highlights the poor conditions that many animals in Chinese zoos are forced to endure.

Video footage shows the lion, which appears to be female, looking malnourished and pacing a small, bare caged area it was sharing with another lion in Taiyuan Zoo in Shanxi province.

About half of its tail appears to be missing, with a bloody stump visible at the end of what remainsand more three calves imported into China in November 2012 are still languishing in miserable conditions inside Chinese zoos. The health of these 3 calves remains a major cause for concern.

Anji Zhongnan Zoo: This is not a garden. It is an amusement park with zoo, theme park.

Naturally, there are many plants too, but this place is certainly not designed in the vein of garden. Animal lovers beware: most of the animals are treated poorly - this is certainly not an exception in China.

Almost all of them walk on concrete and some huge animals like lions have few metres of space. So better skip it if you’re sensitive in that regard.

Chinese authorities made this request as part of the bilateral agreement between the ICCN (Institutions Congolais pour la conservation de la nature) and Chinese zoos.

Following the request by Mr. Liu Min Heng, executive director of Tianjin Junheng International Trade Corporation to import these animals to the Minister of Environment, nature conservation and Sustainable Development, Mr. Amy Ambatobe Nyongolo announced the arrival in China, of a team of Congolese experts with the mission to ensure good reception and best conservation of these different species in these zoos.

The agreement stipulates that any offspring of these animals should be introduced into the wild, in their natural habitat in the DRC, something which is unlikely due to many challenges, mainly the constant Congolese state’s lack of resources to carry out such exercises.

Even though the process is said to be legal and above board, nobody knows what the government of the DRC got in return for the trade of these precious animals and national heritage.

The bilateral relationship between China and the DRC seems to be a one way street where China dictates, thus getting the lion’s share.

No Chinese endemic species are here in the DRC nor experts from China are involved in any conservation within the DRC yet they can make requests for anything they want from our fauna and flora and get it.

THE PETITION

Following the letter of the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development, Mr. Amy Ambatobe Nyongolo, the director of the ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature), Pasteur Dr. Cosma Wilungula, responded that the ICCN is required to respect the provisions of the CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and related Congolese laws.

These provide that export can not be done for commercial purposes. This means that the Scientific Authorities of the DRC and China as well as the the Chinese Trader will have to get approval from CITES for an import and export permit.

The CITES Convention is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Sign Adams Cassinga’s petition and ask DRC government and CITES not to allow the export of Virunga Gorillas and DRC’s endangered and vulnerable wildlife to China.

These species need to gain greater protection in their natural habitats and not die in a far away zoo.


Tourism Observer
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