To: Mr Oystein Storkersen

Chairman CITES Standing Committee and all parties concerned with standards of transparency and accountability at the CITES secretariat.

This letter is to highlight to the Standing Committee Chairman and its members, UNEP, EU and others, what I consider to be a cover up by the CITES Secretariat of the largest ever illegal trade in great apes.

I am calling upon the Standing Committee to commission an urgent and independent enquiry into the handling of the said matters by the Secretariat. All attempts to get some of the key issues addressed in direct correspondence have not yielded any concrete response.

Background: Between 2007 and 2012 the Chinese CITES management authority condoned the importation from Guinea and Sierra Leone of at least 130 baby chimpanzees and 10 gorillas. The chimpanzees have been distributed between zoos and amusement parks in China. The gorillas, we think, have since died. I have personally and physically followed the trail from Guinea to China as part of a documentary film shoot for ZDF (the German public broadcaster). A report of our findings can be found here:

My allegations are as follows : The Secretariat embarked on the cover up concerning the ape exports starting with the mission report which was confidentially distributed after a visit to Conakry. Covering up of what really happened and who initiated the fraudulent permits are questions which have not been answered yet. All of this, if necessary, I am prepared and hope to defend in a court of law. I have in the past asked the secretariat to counteract these allegations by taking relevant legal action if they feel defamed in any way. (see also attached a summary of contradictory statement concerning the existence of copies of import and export permits made by various parties).

1. Prior to the Guinea/China case we also documented in detail the large scale trafficking of apes and other wildlife from the Central African region into Egypt and the Middle East. In that case the secretariat stipulated steps for Egypt to improve compliance with the convention. A documentation officer, a Mr. Laurent Gauthier was in the end sent from Geneva to Cairo to establish if the authorities in Egypt had complied with these stipulations. The case was closed based on Mr. Gauthier’s very sketchy report at the meeting of the parties in Doha. The full report was never made available and not even the most basic of question like : how many gorillas, chimpanzees and orang utans did Mr Gauthier see during his visit were ever answered. (thus ignoring Guidance 9 of 2004) See also:

2. Then came the Guinea Saga which started even prior to the Cairo Connection having – supposedly- been concluded. In this case some 130 chimps and 10 Gorillas were exported to China and declared as captive bred. According to information from the CITES Scientific authority in Peking they were imported with a source code of F which required an import permit. These were presumably issued by China (we have a copy of one export permit which references an import permit number). The Chinese CITES authorities could have established in five minutes on the internet that no approved breeding facility for apes exists in Guinea or anywhere else in Africa and as the source code C (which was supposedly used in the export permits) would not be applicable either. As such it is clear that the fraudulent transactions were initiated in Peking.

3. I am convinced that the corresponding cover up started during the secretariat’s mission to Conakry at the end of 2011. The confidential mission report states: Copies of export permits allegedly issued by Guinea were received from China and these declared the animals as captive bred. The mission was conducted by Mr. John Sellar and Mr. De Meulenar from the CITES secretariat. They later claimed that during this mission they were not provided with a single one of the ape export or import permits to or from China. However this is not mentioned in their otherwise detailed report. There is also no indication why the Guinean CITES MA representatives were not asked about the reasons for the absence of all these crucial permits and confronted with the ones received from China.

4. Clearly these permits were in possession of the mission team prior to traveling to Guinea and it can be assumed that they were requested from China specifically to assist with this mission. Upon their return it was decided to hand the 124 permits they obtained from the Guinea authorities for a third party analysis which resulted in the Caldwell report. Except the copies of the permits they received prior to their departure from China were not added to this collection to undergo the same analysis.

5. The Chinese MA in a later communication confirmed again that these import and export permits were sent to Geneva.

6. Several e-mails from different parties at the secretariat however state that these permit copies are not with the secretariat (see attached summary)

The copies of these permits could be a key tool in establishing corrupt and criminal activities at the time they were issued and expose the importers and exporters of the apes which in turn would allow the parties in question to take the relevant action to comply with Article VIII of the convention. This is not being done (except for Guinea having been suspended but with no consequences for the importer China). In the case of the 10 gorillas, without knowing the importer there seems no way to establish what happened to them and if any are still alive.

While the secretariat refers to privacy laws, supposedly existing in Guinea and China, which would not allow them to make copies of these permits available they have never provided the relevant legal texts to support their argument. I have also offered to pay the cost of Mr. Caldwell to analyze the permits still held by Geneva on the same basis as the ones which were received in Guinea with none of the privacy issues arising. I have received no answer to this offer.

Despite a range of requests from different parties asking for further clarification on some of these issues none have been forthcoming and my legal advisors are now preparing to take the case to a UN oversight committee but suggested that initially the Standing Committee should be given a chance to serve as an arbitrator and hopefully appoint an independent commission of inquiry.

Yours sincerely

Karl Ammann

see also my Documented Evidence File

and Unanswered letters and emails regarding the trade in apes.