BOOKS & DOCUMENTS: CITES at 40: Perspectives, trade patterns & future prospects

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2013:

CITES at 40:  Perspectives,  trade patterns & future prospects,   compiled by United Nations Environment Programme  World Conservation Monitoring Centre Free download from <>

Created in 1973 by the United Nations,  the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora tracks and regulates commerce in about 34,000 species.  About 3% are listed on Appendix I,  meaning that they are endangered,  or Appendix II,  meaning that they are threatened.  CITES compliance is voluntary.  Individual nations may invoke trade sanctions against violators,  but CITES itself has no enforcement mechanism.  

Despite that weakness,  CITES can be credited with helping to slow the rate of loss of some species, including African elephants,   who were moved to Appendix I in 1989.  Unfortunately,  exemptions granted in recent years to allow some nations to sell elephant ivory covered for the resumption of high-volume poaching and trafficking.

More encouragingly,  CITES has helped to cut the global traffic in wild-caught birds from an estimated 1.37 million in 2003 to less than 100,000 per year since 2006.  “This follows a European Union ban on the import of live wild birds in 2005 for reasons of biosecurity,”  CITES at 40 admits.

Total traffic in CITES-regulated animals rose from less than 500,000 per year in the first decade that the convention was in effect,  to more than seven million at peak in 2003.  The present range is from three to five million per year.

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