• Kenya could be removed from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list related to illegal trade in ivory, wildlife officials have said.

    Speaking to Xinhua in Nairobi on Sunday, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Head of CITES Implementation, Solomon Kyalo said that Kenya is among eight countries of main concern in matters pertaining to the illegal trade in ivory and poaching of elephants.

    "As a result of a series of measures put in place to curb elephant poaching and illegal trade in ivory, Kenya is likely to be removed from the list during the upcoming CITES meeting to be held later this year," Kyalo said.

    This year’s 17th Conference of Parties of CITES will be meeting in South Africa later in the year.

    How CITES operates

    The 1989 CITES ban has seen ivory exports decrease over time. Before then, illegal and legal ivory exports amounted to 770 metric tons or 75,000 elephants. Later on, CITES banned all trade in elephant ivory.

    CITES ensures that illegal trade in wild animals and plants is controlled so that they do not cross borders between countries. The effort to regulate it requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. CITES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.

    According to Kyalo, Kenya delivered a report of the progress it has made towards curbing illegal trade in wildlife products and elephant poaching in January to the CITES Standing Committee.

    The Head of CITES Implementation noted that Kenya has so far not been asked to submit any further reports while other nations have been requested to make additional information on instituted measures to curtail illegal ivory trade.

    "So we are confident that the Standing Committee will recommend to the 17th COP of CITES for Kenya to be removed from the list due to compliance," he said.

    CITES has named Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania as countries with elephant’s populations and where ivory exits illegally to other countries.

    According to CITES, countries have to comply with the set provisions or risk being banned from importing or exporting plant and animal species on the CITES list.

    According to KWS, Kenya routinely exports chameleon, tortoise and plants material for either trade and scientific purposes.

    Kyalo said that the country's new wildlife act is one of the reasons why Kenya could be removed from the CITES list.

    "It provides stiff penalties for those involved in illegal trade of ivory as well as those convicted for elephant poaching," Kyalo said.

    Image Credit: AP