The CITES Secretariat must be provided with both the mandate and resources to assist countries that have seized material of listed species so they can prosecute criminals engaged in illegal trafficking

CITES must take urgent action to save Madagascar’s unique species of rosewood and ebony

Mark W. Roberts, Derek Schuurman, Porter P. Lowry II, Anitry Ny Aina Ratsifandrihamanana, Simon Rafanomezantsoa, Patrick O. Waeber, Lucienne Wilmé


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.



Cette contribution est une lettre ouverte adressée à toutes les instances scientifiques et de gestion de la CITES, qui est signée par tous les co-auteurs. Alors que la CITES convoque sa 19e Conférence des Parties, en novembre 2022, plusieurs saisies importantes, les plus volumineuses de l’histoire dans un cas, d’espèces inscrites à la CITES et exploitées illégalement sont sur le point d'être rendues aux criminels qui les ont fait sortir clandestinement de Madagascar. Près de 40 000 rondins de bois de rose ont été sortis en contrebande de Madagascar en 2014, en violation flagrante de la CITES et des embargos nationaux, comme le déclarent explicitement les avis émis par le Secrétariat de la CITES. Ces rondins de bois de rose ont été saisis par les autorités douanières de Singapour, du Kenya et du Sri Lanka, mais suite à une ingérence active et passive de divers fonctionnaires du gouvernement de Madagascar et un usage agressif des systèmes judiciaires et politiques nationaux des pays dans lesquels les saisies ont eu lieu, l’ordre a maintenant été donné de restituer ces rondins aux contrebandiers. Nous énumérons ici cinq mesures essentielles qui doivent être prises lors de la prochaine CdP 19 à Panama pour empêcher que cela ne se produise.


CITES; ebony; rosewood; Madagascar; illegal logging; criminal syndicates; timber trade; Dalbergia; Diospyros

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Madag. conserv. dev.
ISSN: 1662-2510