Saturday, 22 May 2010

Statement by the Secretary-General of CITES on concerns expressed about confiscated orangutans

Personal note: I think CITES has got our message! This statement is likely to be ‘politically’ laying the foundations for the repatriation of the orangutans.

The immediately responsibility rests with the Indonesian CITES Authority; in other words the rather less than enthusiastic Ministry of Forestry. But, we will not be letting it rest there, and we will still hold Mr Scanlon and Mr Sellar (CITES Enforcement Officer) responsible and accountable. In 2006 a similar campaign led by Nature Alert resulted in 48 orangutans being returned to Indonesia.

I have been assured there is a home waiting for these orangutans at a rescue centre in Indonesia, which we hope will lead one day to them being returned to the forests after a suitable period of rehabilitation. There is zero need for any of these orangutans to be sent to an Indonesian zoo.

This is thanks to those of you who sent the letters to CITES. I can’t do this alone and clearly we do work well as a team of dedicated people who won’t ever take no or silence from CITES etc for an answer - will we?!

I will let you know the minute I receive further news.

On behalf of these 11 orangutans, thank you once again.


p.s. In less than a month we have forced a ban on orangutans being used in circus like shows in Malaysia; also the use of bears in shows and tigers for souvenir photos. Not forgetting, we have given the Malaysian government a lot to think about!

And now we are in the closing stages of 11 illegally caught and traded orangutans going home. If you sent those letters, I hope you will feel proud to have helped and a great sense of achievement. And to top it all, it has not cost a penny/cent/euro etc. We don’t ask for your money, only a little of your time.


Statement by the Secretary-General of CITES on concerns expressed about confiscated orangutans

Geneva, 20 May 2010

The Secretariat has recently received a number of emails urging the return to Indonesia of 11 orangutans confiscated by the CITES Management Authority of Thailand in February 2009.

In keeping with its responsibilities to promote enforcement of the Convention and to assess and communicate relevant information, the Secretariat contacted the Thai Management Authority about these messages.

The Thai Management Authority responded immediately, stating that the animals had been well cared for since their confiscation and that DNA analysis showed they were Bornean orangutans. It advised the Secretariat that the Thai and Indonesian authorities had been consulting about the possible return of the animals - as both countries had arranged for the return of a number of orangutans three years ago.

The Thai Management Authority further stated that it had written officially to the CITES Management Authority of Indonesia earlier this month to find out whether it would like the animals to be returned at its expense – as provided under Article VIII of the Convention.
The Secretariat is also in contact with the Indonesian Management Authority about this matter.

As provided by the Convention, the determination of the most suitable long-term home for confiscated animals rests with the State of confiscation, following consultation with the State of export. The State of confiscation may consult with the Secretariat, whenever it considers this desirable, but the CITES Secretariat has no power to decide the final destination of confiscated animals.

The Thai Management Authority has advised that its investigation into the events leading up to the confiscation of the 11 orangutans is ongoing. The role of the Secretariat in relation to domestic law enforcement is supportive in nature and is focused on exchanging information about alleged violations, strengthening law enforcement capacity and facilitating coordinated action by interested States.

In this context, the Secretariat offers and provides technical back-up to assist States in their investigation and pursuit of individuals or organizations which are suspected of having violated the Convention and relevant national law.

The emails sent to the Secretariat also raise issues of compliance with the Convention. The Secretariat supports other CITES bodies in carrying out their functions concerning compliance. It advises and assists Parties in complying with their CITES obligations and makes recommendations for achieving compliance. Compliance measures under the Convention, however, can only be taken by the Conference of the Parties or its Standing Committee.

John Scanlon
CITES Secretary-General