South African Minister of Environmental Affairs signs host country agreement for CITES COP17

03 March 2016


Minister of Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Mrs Edna Molewa has signed the Host Country Agreement for the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Conference will be held in South Africa from 24 September to 5 October 2016.

Minister Molewa signed the Host Country Agreement with the Secretary-General of CITES Mr John Scanlon on the margins of an international conference on wildlife crime in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

South Africa was one of the first signatories to CITES in 1975 and continues to play an active role in the enforcement of the Convention.

Scanlon described South Africa as a highly appropriate location given the frontline wildlife challenges and opportunities being tackled on the continent. 

“Africa is home to a vast array of CITES-listed species and South Africa is globally recognised for ‘the Big Five’. CITES Parties and observers look forward to convening in South Africa for the World Wildlife Conference," said Scanlon.

At COP17 Parties will collectively evaluate the progress made since 2013, and take decisions on what additional measures are needed to end illicit wildlife trafficking.

It will also consider a number of proposals to bring additional species under CITES trade controls, as well as tackle issues concerning livelihoods, and the review of significant trade, traceability, and the effectiveness of CITES implementation, amongst other things.

The Host Country Agreement signing coincided with the release of the official COP17 logo.

The logo is an iconic image of the African white rhinoceros. The rhino's 'body' comprises the outlines of a number of species of endangered plants and animals from the African continent, such as the pangolin, cycad, African aloe and African lion.

The selection of the rhino as the dominant image of the COP17 logo reinforces South Africa's status as home to the largest rhino populations in the world.

South Africa's sterling rhino conservation track record has resulted in significant growth in rhino numbers: from approximately 50 in 1895 to approximately 18 000 today.

"The choice of a rhino as the dominant image in the logo for COP17 is also to draw attention to the challenges South Africaand other African range states face as a result of poaching," says Minister Molewa.

The illicit trade in wildlife and rhino poaching will feature on the agenda of COP17. The CITES CoP creates an avenue to communicate and raise awareness of the importance of species / wildlife conservation and the need to address the illegal trade in species - all the while supporting legal trade underpinned by sound sustainable utilization principles. 

"This magnificent logo is furthermore testament to the rich tapestry of biodiversity for which our country is known globally," says Minister Molewa.

South Africa is the third most mega bio-diverse country in the world after Brazil and Indonesia. Despite occupying only 2% of the world’s land surface South Africa is home to nearly 10% of the planet’s plant species and 7% of the world's reptile, bird and mammal species.

The incorporation of human silhouettes emphasises the crucial role people play in species conservation. The colours of the logo draw inspiration from the diverse hues of the African seasons. The rhino's heart, in the shape of the African continent - symbolizes the idea that the African continent is the wellspring of life.

"The COP17 logo released today reminds all of us of the interconnectivity between different species, and of the fragile, complex relationships between humankind and our stewardship of our natural resources. South Africa looks forward to hosting this important gathering, where we will chart the course for a new era in species conservation," says Minister Molewa.

Logo in high resolution:

Picture gallery

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