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International Wildlife Trade and biodiversity Conservation
Written by Jessica Raharimalala   
Monday, 20 July 2015 17:02

International Wildlife Trade and biodiversity Conservation: what role should researchers and conservation organisations take in Madagascar?

In order to strengthen the capacity of Malagasy researchers and staff from NGOs working on the wildlife trade in Madagascar, Madagasikara Voakajy organized a five-day training workshop in March (16th to the 20th of March 2015). Attendees to the workshop included CITES Authorities (Management Authority and Scientific Authority), Universities (DBA, DBEV, ESSA-Forêts, IHSM Tuléar) and researchers from NGOs working on Malagasy wildlife trade and conservation, with representatives attending from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Amphibian Specialist Group Madagascar, Asity Madagascar Association, Vahatra Association, Conservation International, Royal Botanical Garden-Kew, Traffic International, Mitsinjo Association, MadagasikaraVoakajy, Missouri Botanical Garden. The workshop was organized by Madagasikara Voakajy Madagasikara Voakajy and funded by the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, UK.

Delegates at Mitsinjo workshop  

Nature nextdoor

The workshop was held at the Mitsinjo Center (add a rough description of where this is on Madagascar) andbenefited from the quiet, green and beautiful landscape surrounding us. Unfortunately, we did have a few cars pass by during the training! Quality Assurance inspections were conducted daily by an adorable group of lemurs (Eulemur fulvus) every afternoon at 3 p.m. who then sang their approval through the forest. These unexpected visitors were welcomed guests and added a further relaxing touch to the workshop along with the bird song.

Eulemur fulvus at Mitsinjo


Our trainers, they rock!

         Dr. David Roberts, from the University of Kent, was one of our trainers. An expert on trade, orchids and species extinction, his sessions focused on:

$1-        the mechanicsof wildlife trade:laws and regulation, especially the CITES convention

$1-        CITES: national implementation, database, livelihoods

$1-        wildlife crime: trafficking research, wildlife crime scene investigations

In a word, Dave gave us a better understanding of the international wildlife trade regulation. I was particularly amazed to learn about the advanced technology used to combat wildlife crime, as well as in the wildlife investigations!!! Dave explained that, in order to verify if the death of a protected  animal was natural or criminal (killed by people), there are scientists in some countries, who study ballistics, debris from explosions and fire, fingerprints and even blood spatter…a real examination of scene of crime for a dead bird…like we were in an episode of Bones!!!This is something I did not expect at all. I don’t really think that our police force in Madagascar has such a capacity or determination to investigate the murder of citizens.

Dr David ROBERTS, University of Kent.

                Dr. Angus Carpenter instructed us about CITES amendments and  very important the Non Detrimental Finding (NDF). The NDF, a concept found in the Articles II and IV of the CITES, is the requirement of a CITES Management Authority to ensure that no trade in wild species is detrimental to wild populations, based on information and advice from the Scientific Authority.Angus’s sessions were particularly relevant because many proposals of amendments to the appendices from Madagascar were rejected in the previous (Conference of the Parties).So, from now on, we know how to make a relevant proposal of amendment: down-list a species from Appendix I to Appendix II of the CITES for example or to up-list a non CITES species to Appendix III.It is important to note that there is no NDF requirement in Appendix III listed species, and this appears to be a better alternative for Madagascar were there are a lot of traded species but not enough fund to run a well done NDF.

Dr Angus CAREPENTER, University of East Anglia

Angus is a herpetologist and did his PhD fieldwork on Malagasy chameleons. During the workshop we also conducted a night survey to search for amphibians and reptiles, finding a total of 26 chameleons. Christian lead group 2 while Raphali lead group 1. These diurnal animals are easier to spot and catch during the night, hence the competition was held one evening after the day’s training. Group 1 won, as they found 15 chameleons while group2 found only 11. Cheer up Group 2, maybe next time!