Re: Customs Busting...

Philip F. Wight (
Thu, 10 Nov 1994 20:57:57 -0800 (PST)

Tom - I understand your feelings on this issue and I commiserate.
However, allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment. Human nature
being what it is, if you open the door a crack, you open the floodgate,
or at least that's what the authorities think. There are many examples
of this madness: birds in Australia, for example. I am also an exotic
bird owner - started that during my 32 year residency in Hongkong. I
used to buy birds that the seamen would bring in from all over the
world. I actually helped several local botanical gardens and zoos there
get species there was no of getting "through proper channels". (I have a
scarlet macaw here with me that's been on my shoulder for 25 years.)

In Australia, farmers net, then trample or shoot, heards of cockatoos
because they destroy crops, but would the Australian government allow a
single bird to be exported. Well, you know the answer to that.

If CITES eased up, the flood of commercial harvesters would soon pick the
jungles bare (they think).

I'll tell you what CITES listing did to one orchid. Paphiopedilum
delenatii is listed, I think, in CITES 1. It is native to Vietnam and
was thought to be extinct until recently. Well, when the Vietnamese
government got wind of the potential value of P.delenatii they started
gathering them and shipped (according to whose story you believe) either
20,000 or 100,000 plants, through Hongkong, to Japan for an orchid
festival. The Japanese government blinked, checked it out, and threw the
whole batch out of the country, along with the folks that imported them.
They were then shipped to Taiwan where their residue resides today, dying
because of the difference in climate.

So here, CITES probably did destroy a species single handed. I have heard
that most or all orchids are coming OFF CITES next spring: maybe a case
could be made for cps.

Maybe some thinking people could propose a way to open limited and
controlled trade without endangering the resource in the wild.

Any other thoughts?

Sorry about the length of this sermon.