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 International Workshop on Strategy for Tiger Conservation

6 July 2007

Jia Zhiban
State Forestry Administration
No. 18, Hepingli East Street
Beijing 100714, China
Subject:  International Workshop on Strategy for Tiger Conservation
Dear Minister Jia,
We write today with regard to the State Forestry Administration’s International Workshop on Strategy for Tiger Conservation, 2-7 July, which members of the International Tiger Coalition (ITC) were interested in attending.  We had welcomed SFA’s idea of organizing a comprehensive review of China’s tiger trade ban, and many of our members had hoped to participate fully.  That “open and transparent” review was mentioned publicly by China’s delegation, during Committee II and Plenary discussions, at last month’s 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in The Hague.
Unfortunately, key experts were unable to attend the workshop for various reasons.  First, the dates of the workshop were only confirmed in mid June during the second week of the CITES meeting.  For this reason, ITC representatives had little time for arranging their schedules and flights, registration, visa applications and payment of fees in the two weeks between the end of the CITES meeting and the beginning of the workshop.  Second, others among the coalition’s most qualified experts could only join the workshop during the discussion phase in Harbin (for personal or logistical reasons), but they were informed that they could not participate in the discussion workshop itself if they had not attended the associated tours of tiger farms.  Third, we were disappointed that some of those ITC representatives best qualified to offer relevant professional input were not given permission to attend.   
By contrast, we note with concern the participants hosted by the SFA and believe it is unfortunate that some participants with a wider range of knowledge and experience, in tiger conservation specifically, were turned away. We note that the Government of China provided the necessary funding and logistical support for some economists of SFA’s choosing to participate, but other representatives of civil society with decades of tiger conservation experience and economic expertise had very little time to find the necessary funds, arrange visas, or were told that it was “too late” for them to register.
Finally, we are concerned that the workshop itinerary includes venues which have been alleged to be selling tiger products either directly or through the internet in contravention of China’s laws and which are strong proponents for relaxing China’s tiger trade ban.  This creates the impression of a conflict of interest which could further jeopardize the outcomes of the discussions being viewed as open and objective as had been hoped, and as was the stated intent of your government.

In summary, the overall result is that the workshop cannot be the open, transparent and thorough policy review promised to CITES Parties at The Hague.  Nevertheless, we remain fully committed to contributing to such a
The CITES Parties adopted a strong decision on the issue of tiger conservation, as you are aware.  Thus, we write today to offer our assistance to work with SFA, and perhaps the CITES Secretariat, to convene later this year a more inclusive discussion of the best ways to ensure conservation of wild tigers across their range.  We would welcome the chance to collaborate with you to ensure that the process is inclusive of a full array of experts and conducted with: 

Scientific rigor, so that the potential effects of any management actions on wild tigers are fully understood and considered by the international community on the basis of thorough research;

Transparency, so that the international community can consider the methods and conclusions of this research;

Conservation of tigers in the wild as a priority, as the world’s last wild tigers are at stake, and the international community has a core interest in ensuring that national and international policies support full conservation of all remaining wild tiger populations.

We hope that we will have an opportunity to discuss these matters with you in person in the near future.  In the interim, we look forward to your reply.
With sincere regards,

American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine 
Animal Welfare Institute
Animals Asia Foundation 
Association of Zoos & Aquariums 
Born Free Foundation 
Born Free USA
British and Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums 
Care for the Wild International 
Conservation International 
Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine 
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation 
Environmental Investigation Agency 
Global Tiger Patrol 
Humane Society International     
Humane Society of the United States    
International Fund for Animal Welfare    
Ranthambhore Foundation
Save The Tiger Fund
Species Survival Network
The Corbett Foundation
Tigris Foundation
21st Century Tiger
Wildlife Alliance
Wildlife Conservation Nepal
Wildlife Conservation Society
Wildlife Protection Society of India
Wildlife Trust of India
World Association of Zoos & Aquariums
World Society for the Protection of Animals
Zoological Society of London

Chairman, CITES Standing Committee  
CITES Management Authority, Bangladesh    
CITES Management Authorities, Bhutan      
CITES Management Authority, Cambodia        
CITES Management Authority, China     
CITES Management Authority, EU Member States  
CITES Management Authority, India      
CITES Management Authority, Indonesia    
CITES Management Authority, Nepal    
CITES Management Authority, Russian Federation
CITES Management Authority, USA
CITES Management Authority, Vietnam  
CITES Secretariat
Executive Director, Global Tiger Forum
IUCN Species Survival Commission
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China  
State Administration of TCM, China
State Forestry Administration, International Affairs

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