Aloe secundiflora . In 2016, Kenya exported 124,000 kg of wild Aloe secundiflora derivatives to China. PHOTO/COURTESTY
By PATRICK MAYOYO
More than 1.3-million live animals and plants, 1.5-million skins and two thousand tonnes of meat from CITES-listed species have been exported from 41 African countries to East and Southeast Asia since 2006 a new ground-breaking report reveals.
The report East Boud by Traffic, the wildlife monitoring network shows that a total of 41 African countries exported CITES-listed wildlife to 17 Asian countries/territories.
The exports included 975 different taxa listed under either Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade is closely controlled.
Live wildlife exports have generally increased since 2006 and the proportion of trade from captive sources increased from 42% in 2006 to a peak of 66% in 2013; and some of the wildlife traded in the largest quantities were species that receive little political attention within CITES, notably Leopard Tortoises and Ball Pythons.
In recent years, the focus on wildlife trade from Africa has centred on the illegal trade and the devastating onslaught on iconic species like elephants and rhinos. Comparatively little attention has been given to legal wildlife trade from the continent—until now.
The report shows that Kenya was involved in the export of derivatives of Aloe secundiflora – an evergreen plant with thick pointed leaves.
In 2016, Kenya exported 124,000 kg of wild Aloe secundiflora derivatives to China, plus 28,000 kg leaves from artificially propagated plants. Prior to 2016, Kenya had exported much lower quantities (406 kg leaves from artificially propagated plants exported to Japan in 2014/2015).
It is unclear what has driven this large increase in exports of wild A. secundiflora: previously wild exports of Aloe species were apparently not permitted from Kenya but it is unclear if this is still the case.
The study also shows that Kenya is also involved in the export of Mistletoe Cactus and other species in the same genus to Asia. Mistletoe Cactus is an evergreen plant that grows on trees, with small, white fruits and pale yellow flowers. It is often used as a Christmas decoration.
It adds that exports of live Mistletoe Cactus and other species in the same genus to Asia from Kenya and Tanzania abruptly began in 2015. At that time 44,575 specimens were exported.
Kenya is also involved in the export of Mistletoe Cactus and other species in the same genus to Asia. PHOTO/COURTESY
This report is the first of its kind and endeavours to shed light on legal trade trends, the diversity of species and countries involved, and new patterns emerging. It provides a comprehensive overview of legal trade from Africa to East and Southeast Asia and includes detailed regional and country analyses.
“Until now the legal wildlife trade between Africa and Asia has been largely overlooked but TRAFFIC’s new study aims to fill in some of the blanks in our understanding of this vast, complex and legitimate intercontinental exchange of natural resources,” said Willow Outhwaite, co-author of the study.
The report highlights significant changes and trends between 2006 and 2015, the most recent decade for which a fairly complete CITES trade dataset is available. Trade reported to CITES so far by member states for 2016 and 2017 has also been analysed to identify emerging patterns.
The report indicates that a total of 41 African countries exported CITES-listed wildlife to 17 Asian countries/territories.
South Africa was the largest exporter of live birds, mammals and plants; while Namibia was, by far, the largest exporter of mammal skins, primarily those of Cape Fur Seals; over 91% of skins (1,418,487 of 1,558,794) exported from Africa were of Nile Crocodile.
The second most common mammal skin exported was of the African Elephant with 11,285 primarily exported from Zimbabwe and South Africa; Madagascar was the only exporter of live amphibians to Asia; Japan was the largest importer of live amphibians and arachnids and Singapore imported the most live birds.
Hong Kong SAR dominated live reptile imports, most of which were Leopard Tortoises and Ball Pythons; Zimbabwe was the largest exporter of reptile skins, followed by Zambia.
Just three species accounted for the reported meat exports: Nile Crocodile, European Eel and Cape Fur Seals. The Republic of Korea was the largest importer of European Eels, followed by Hong Kong SAR.
More than 50 tonnes of Common Hippopotamus teeth were exported from Uganda and Tanzania, with Malawi emerging as a significant exporter in recent years.
The results of this project illustrate how CITES trade data can be used to understand wildlife trade dynamics better, highlighting major commodities and species in trade and the countries involved.
The database—which is publicly accessible at https://trade.cites.org—is an important tool for monitoring species in trade, emerging trends and potential threats to listed species.