ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has requested the United States (US) not to down list markhor from Appendix-I to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES), local media reports have informed.
According to CITES website, Appendix I contains species that are the most endangered among the CITES-listed animals and plants. These species are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except for non-commercial purposes.
Appendix II, on the other hand, lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is closely controlled.
Downlisting the animal will reduce its value as a trophy and due to low prices, the mountain communities currently safeguarding it will give up the effort resulting in it being hunted into extinction.
In past, due to such downlisting, millions of vultures were eliminated within a short span of 10 years. The provinces have also backed MoCC viewpoint that markhor should not be downlisted from CITES Appendix I to AppendixII in the meeting of Wildlife Management Board meeting on Tuesday.
Couple of months back the US of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service had sought Pakistan’s proposals regarding downlisting of markhor from CITES, Appendix I to Appendix II.
The US Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service(USFWS) in a letter to the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) had conveyed that in preparation for the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES)(COP18), the USFWS had invited the public to provide them information and recommendations on animal and plants species to be considered as candidates for US proposals to amend Appendices I and II, of CITES at CoP18.
In response to the request, USFWS received a recommendation of Safari Club International (SCI) to transfer markhor from Appendix I to Appendix II. At this USFWS was again gathering and reviewing available trade and biological data for markhor to help in the evaluation of this request to transfer the species from Appendix I to Appendix II of CITES.
Since Pakistan is a range country for this species, USFWS sought Pakistan opinion on this species. In response to USFWS letter, the MoCC said that since early 1990s Pakistan had been implementing a community based trophy hunting programme which had proved successful in terms of an increase in the population of the species and social and economic uplift of the communities.
Under this programme communities get 80 per cent of the revenues generated and in return were actively involved in community-based conservation activities from watch and ward to monitoring of species. Communities are willing to join the programme and therefore Pakistan intends to get its existing quota to be increased at the next meeting of CoP.
Pakistan said that due to climate change the habitat of markhor was under threat.
However, the biggest threat faced by the markhor continues to be poaching and being in Appendix I gives it a special conservation status in Pakistan. As a result of this, an increase in its population was noted but the need to consolidate its conservation remains.
“Being in appendix I, markhor trophy has a high price, if it is downlisted its price will reduce and community will not give it as much protection because of its low prices,” MoCC concluded adding that mountain communities could start killing more animals to maintain previous level of revenues.