The more they say things change the more they seem to stay the same…….

Update on ape trafficking issues ex Guinea/West and Central Africa

The Armenia saga:

The DRC CITES Management Authority (MA) told us in an e-mail that they had heard from a representative at the CITES Secretariat that there were no bonobo’s in Armenia and third parties should stop sensationalizing this issue
We delivered the photographic evidence of at least one bonobo remaining, and information concerning another one having died shortly after arrival.
The NCP Interpol office of the DRC also informed us that Interpol Armenia had stated there were no bonobo in Armenia
The CITES MA Armenia informed us that they had not issued any import permits for any CITES I primates (there have been large quantities of import of CITES II primates from the DRC into Armenia). The same facility which illegally holds the bonobo also holds four young chimps and other CITES I listed species
The NCP Interpol DRC stated in a TV interview and in writing that they would demand the return of the bonobo
The latest communication indicates that they have done so but ignored the 4 chimpanzees and all the chimps illegally exported to China of which a large number must have originated in the DRC
For further information watch the illegally imported four chimps, the bonobo and the gibbons in this Armenia video production: http://youtu.be/Dn9LzUA5tas

The ongoing China saga:

Chinese press statements (see below) indicate that Shanghai Wild Animal Park has received more baby chimpanzees from Africa in early 2013 (most likely just after the CITES COP in Bangkok)

Name of Chinese Zoo: Shanghai Wild Animal Park (上海野生动物园)

Date of Arrival: 2013/03/29

Export Country: Africa

Species: Chimpanzee

Amount: 4 (1 male and 1 female, the others are unknown)

News Link: http://english.people.com.cn/90882/8467277.html

The CITES trade data for 2011 shows the export and re-export of 4 chimpanzees from Syria to China, declared as captive born and 4 from Sierra Leone declared as WILD born plus another one also declared with a W (source code). The CITES MA of Sierra Leone at the Bangkok meeting agreed to provide copies of these permits which then did not happen after a very direct intervention by a member of staff from the Secretariat.
The latest CITES trade data published for 2012 show a further 4 imports of captive born chimpanzees from Syria and another 4 from Chad all to China, all with source code C.
The CITES MA of Guinea provided us with a copy of a letter he had sent to the CITES Secretariat in which he referred to a meeting at the Conference of Parties in Doha in 2010 where a meeting had taken place between the MA of Guinea, China, and a representative of the CITES Secretariat. This meeting was supposedly to discuss all the illegal ape exports from Guinea to China (shipped with falsified Guinean permits but with apes coming mostly from the DRC)
This was followed by the CITES mission to Guinea in November 2011 where the same issue was addressed in a lengthy report
The shipments then appear to have dropped in 2011 to 4 captive born chimpanzees being shipped from Guinea to China (in 2010 it was still 61) but then the shipments from Syria and Sierra Leone started to which in 2012 Chad was added, with indications that more chimps arrived in Shanghai from Africa in 2013.
In the case of Syria, the investigation of ape trafficking into Egypt led to the discovery of a well-known animal dealing family where one brother operates from Damascus. He offered our investigator chimps ex Egypt (after the Secretariat closed this case at the 2010 Doha meeting) but with Syrian CITES export permits. These included a wide range of fabricated data as was the case with the Guinean permits. The CITES Secretariat was informed of this.
Then there is the case of the gorilla exports from Guinea to China (2010) with more gorillas being offered by a company based in several locations in SE Asia called Asian Dragon Trading. This same company later offered a wide range of CITES II primates in a special package via Syria. Video imagery showed that these were again mostly originating from the DRC (with the gorillas most likely also having originated from the East of the DRC)
Again we informed the CITES Secretariat of this new offer by this dealership and the link to Syria prior to the 2012 shipments.
It is not surprising that another war affected country like Chad has now been added to the mix as far as the dealers in question (Guinean/DRC based) falsifying original permits or getting corrupt CITES officials to sign off on permits containing mostly fabricated data.
Other Guinea based dealers have recently offered to export chimpanzees via Senegal, Ivory Coast and Mali (with supposedly some kind of CITES permits or packaged together with CITES II primates and shipped with the corresponding documents).

The conclusion, once again, is that nothing has been under control as far as the exports of apes from Africa are concerned since the large scale Guinean permit scam started in 2007;that it is ongoing; that the dealers concerned are still active, operating from bases in Guinea and the DRC with most of the primates originating in the DRC; that they are willing and able to switch permit acquisition from one poorly governed country and CITES Management Authority to another and that any kind of enforcement activity has never really caught up with them.

It shows that the Chinese authorities are still happy to accept any kind of permit coming their way without asking too many questions (or as was illustrated in the case of Guinea, asking African CITES officials which were part of the illegal trade network). The representatives of the CITES Secretariat in their report of 2011 stated that they documented corrupt and criminal acts that clearly involved the exporters and importers but as the latest trade data shows, this did not have an impact with the key importer as China have allowed further such imports in 2012 and most likely in 2013. Of course no attempt whatsoever was made by any of the Parties to implement Article VIII of the Convention (the dealer which was arrested with a lot of media attention in Guinea was a domestic dealer which had not been involved in any of the exports to China). No official or exporter or importer has been arrested, no apes have been confiscated there are no discussions on repatriation.

Despite asking for an independent commission of inquiry into some of these activities and transactions, and asking various Parties to the Convention to ask for a re-examination of the 2000 decision for permits to no longer be scrutinized in Geneva and re-establishing such a procedure at least for the CITES I listed species prior to any transaction taking place, there has been no corresponding action or indication that the Secretariat or the Parties are taking this proposal seriously.

Karl Ammann Nanyuki January 2013