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Endangered species: Seychelles steps up efforts to implement CITES

Victoria, Seychelles | June 15, 2024, Saturday @ 08:00 in Environment » GENERAL | By: Rita Joubert-Lawen Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 4852
Endangered species: Seychelles steps up efforts to implement CITES

In recent years there have been reports of illegal trading of the island nation's giant bronze gecko. (Chris Tagg)

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Officials from biosecurity, fisheries, conservation and customs in Seychelles participated in a familiarisation workshop on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The workshop, held at the Savoy Resort and Spa, is part of the steps to implement the convention in the country and it aims to step up efforts to fight the illegal trade of wildlife.

CITES is a global agreement among governments to regulate or ban international trade in species under threat. In Seychelles, it is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and the Environment and part of the ministry's role is to ensure that the trade is legal, sustainable and can be traced.

The director for biosecurity conservation and the local CITES focal point, Ashley Dias, told reporters that the workshop is for the local partners to have open and frank discussions.

During the session, the officials were shown presentations of the various roles the agencies involved have in the implementation.

"This morning we discovered that even some of the officers involved in upholding the convention locally are not aware of what it is or entails. This shows that we have a lot of education work to carry out in that area so that everyone knows what it is," she added.

Through the talks, the authorities hope to identify the existing gaps and how they can work together to implement the convention nationally.

The gaps identified so far were a lack of human and financial resources and the need for more training so that the officers concerned may identify species being traded.

"CITES is a very important convention and as we know there is illegal trade in flora and fauna taking place now, this is the perfect time to talk about how this is happening," said Dias.

She said the authorities have "noticed an increase in illegal wildlife trade, as this sector is even more lucrative than trafficking in illegal drugs. We are working closely with our partners to find out what avenues are being used to do so and what countries where such trades are taking place."

The Trade of Wild Flora and Fauna Act came into force in 2021 allowing authorities to confiscate specimens and fine those found trading illegally.

"What remains now for us is to be able to detect the illegal trade of flora and fauna, which at the moment is very alarming," said Dias.

She said there is a demand for endemic and rare species from Seychelles and in recent years there have been reports of illegal trading of the island nation's giant bronze gecko and potential illicit trading of the endemic Aldabra giant tortoise.

Endemic to the Seychelles' island of Praslin's endangered coco-de-mer palm forests, the vulnerable giant bronze gecko seems more like a close relative of the Komodo dragon than a gecko.

Dias added that although the authorities are detecting such cases there are many loopholes such as monitoring, control and surveillance in all areas. 

The local CITES management authority says it plans to hold more training to equip all concerned with the tools needed to identify the various species being traded and know existing laws.

"This is a constantly evolving topic and we have to ensure that as a small country, we are always on top of all the changes taking place," said Dias.

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Tags: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES, giant bronze gecko

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