Nairobi, July 31 – The next triennial meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18) will be held in Geneva from 17th to 28th August.

CITES seeks to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival in the wild. The 2019 conference will adopt a wide range of decisions to expand and strengthen the global wildlife trade regime. A key highlight will be the 57 proposals that governments have submitted for changing the levels of protection afforded to over 500 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants.

Kenya and its allies in the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) will propose that all African elephant populations be placed in Appendix I to offer maximum protection under CITES in the face of the ongoing threats posed by the unsustainable demand from the ivory trade, the uncertainty of the impact of that trade on the species across the range, and the enforcement problems that current split-listing may create.

All the populations of the African elephant — except those in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe — are already listed in CITES Appendix I, which lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants. Elephants in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe fall under Appendix II, which lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction now, but which may become threatened unless trade is closely controlled.

Kenya’s and AEC members backing its proposal will insist that elephants in the four southern African countries revert to Appendix I.

In the run-up to and during the Conference of Parties proceedings in Geneva, the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Airways and Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) will jointly run a month-long campaign in support of Kenya’s position against ivory trade. The three agencies have requested other conservation organisation to partner with them in the campaign, which will mainly run in Kenya’s airports, to amplify the message. The campaign was launched by Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on July 31.

The publicity campaign includes the printing of 400,000 limited edition boarding passes for the month of August that will feature the image of an elephant on the back. When ripped apart prior to boarding, the elephant tusk will be removed from the elephant. Travellers will be instructed on how to find out more about the #Ripoff campaign on the flight.