CITES must urgently take the steps to save Madagascar’s unique species of rosewood and ebony
This contribution is an open letter to all CITES Management and Scientific Authorities, which is signed by all of the co-authors. As CITES convenes its 19th Conference of the Parties in November 2022, some of the largest seizures in history of illegally harvested CITES-listed species are poised to be handed back to the criminals who smuggled them out of Madagascar. Nearly 40,000 rosewood logs were illegally exported from the country in 2014, in clear violation of CITES and national embargos, as explicitly declared in Notices issued by the CITES Secretariat. The logs were seized by Singapore, Kenya, and Sri Lanka, but as a result of both passive and active interference from various Malagasy officials and aggressive use of these countries’ national court and political systems, orders have now been issued for the logs to be returned to the smugglers. Release of this wood would have catastrophic consequences for the future sustainable management of Madagascar’s remaining rosewood and ebony resources. We propose five essential steps that should be taken at the upcoming CITES CoP 19 in Panama to prevent this from happening.