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International Trafficking in Endangered Species

     The CoP17 meeting was not the first time that international attention was drawn to threats to mpingo. In 1994 a proposal for a CITES listing for Dalbergia melanoxylon was submitted by Kenya and Germany, but because there was insufficient information about the tree and regulation of its trade met with opposition from commercial interests, it was withdrawn. Unfortunately in the years since, Africa has come under increased threat, targeted by many criminal cartels which have taken advantage of the expanding economic potential of rising middle classes in Asia and China. Their illegal activities have decimated exotic timbers and wildlife species in numerous areas. African nations, many of which are the poorest in the world. suffer from lack of infrastructure in their wildlife and wooded areas and its poverty-stressed populations can be vulnerable to such criminal elements. Ironically few Africans have profited to any large extent compared to those in countries where the illegal products are used and traded.
     The CITES decision was supported by a number of studies, one of which was submitted by Germany. Entitled, “Trade Study of Selected East African Timber Production Species,” it presents information about timber availability, logging and illegal harvesting of three economically important species, one of which is African blackwood. Attention is given to the role of China in the often illegal harvesting and export of valuable hardwoods in Africa since the turn of the century. China outlawed logging on its own mainland in 1998, and since then has relied on international imports to supply its domestic needs for timber and wood products. With its rapid industrialization and growing personal wealth, there has been a precipitous rise in desire for consumer goods with little regard for their conservation status. Although international focus is often on threats to endangered and threatened animal species, the illegal timber trade accounts for far greater revenue amounts. Some rosewood species are even known as “blood timbers” because of the connection between their illegal trade and rebel group uprisings.
     The path to sustainability must undoubtedly rely on a multi-dimensional approach. Brazil has reduced deforestation by 50% through combining utilization of satellite data and effective policing. Groups working in China sponsor TV ads that enlighten an often unknowing public about the endangered species used in ivory carvings, shark fin soup and medicinal products. Worldwide, conservation groups are organizing to address particular aspects of the global crisis. It is crucial that knowledgeable people from all countries educate themselves about the conservation status of the products they use and support those causes that are directed towards establishing modalities of reasonable use, protection and replacement. In these crucial times decisive action is imperative to preserve the exquisite diversity of the natural world – the source of sustenance for us all.

The decisions reached by CoP17 were based on 175 meticulously researched reports submitted by member nations. Each pertains to the conservation status of a species in question for review. Three of the reports partially focus on Dalbergia melanoxylon and, since the species has been so infrequently studied, for the interested researcher they are a good compilation of what is presently known about the tree. Click the PDF icon to access these files.

Global Status of Dalbergia and Pterocarpus Rosewood Producing Species in Trade

CoP17 Prop. 55 - Inclusion of the genus Dalbergia in CITES Appendix II with exception to the species included in Appendix I

Trade Study of Selected East African Timber Production Species

African Blackwood Conservation Project

P. O. Box 26 • Red Rock, TX 78662 • USA

So that

the song

of the

Tree of Music

will not go




ABCP Website maintained by James E. Harris, 2000.
Last revised 20 Sept 2017.