Attention COP19 delegates, your moment to shine is right here, right now!

by Mark W. Roberts, Derek Schuurman, Lucienne Wilmé, Patrick O. Waeber, 15 November 2022

We risk setting a dangerous precedent with enormous consequences for conservation that goes way beyond rosewood and other precious timber species. Don't let the criminal syndicates win. You, the delegates of the COP19, have the power. Act now!


In 2014, thinking that the CITES embargo on trade of Malagasy rosewood and ebony would lapse, traffickers resumed activity and almost a year to the day after the listing of these species, ships carrying tens, or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of logs, sailed from Malagasy ports. As the embargo had not in fact lapsed, approximately 40,000 logs were seized in Singapore, Kenya and Sri Lanka. After multiple trials and appeals all 40,000 logs are currently at serious risk of being returned to the smugglers thanks to the actions of the Government of Madagascar and the failures in national legal processes. CITES issued Notifications that all of these logs were exported from Madagascar in violation of the CITES and the national embargos and that they should therefore be seized if anyone attempts to move them into another Party. Because they are illegal property, they are subject to seizure, and CITES should encourage Singapore, Kenya and Sri Lanka to continue holding the consignments until a disposal plan has been developed that does not increase demand and is not detrimental to the survival of these species. 

If these logs are returned to the criminals who exported them illegally, we risk setting a dangerous precedent with disastrous implications for conservation that extend way beyond precious timber species. Right now, we need to take a united stand against the transnational criminal syndicates and seize these logs.


This is Message in a Capsule #1.

Image by Raphaël Chavardès, for the journal Madagascar Conservation & Development, 2009.