Wildlife Trade Protections Revised, Steps Taken to Reduce Demand for Illegal Trade
Members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora amended protections for numerous species and took their first-ever decisions on key issues at their most recent triannual meeting held in South Africa. The decisions taken at the 17th Conference of the Parties will next need to be translated into legislation, regulation, and operating practices in CITES party countries, which will directly affect when, where, and how the affected wildlife products can be bought and sold.
Highlights of CoP17 include the following.
- Many species were brought under CITES trade controls for the first time, including the nautilus; Grandidier’s baobab tree; amphibians and reptiles such as alligator lizards, the psychedelic rock gecko, the Chinese crocodile lizard, the Titicaca water frog, and the tomato frog; marine species such as silky and thresher sharks and devil rays; six species of African and Middle Eastern softshell turtles; and hundreds of timber species such as those in the entire genus Dalbergia (inclusive of over 300 species of rosewood).
- All eight species of pangolins and the African grey parrot were transferred from Appendix II to Appendix I, prohibiting all international commercial trade in wild-taken specimens of these animals.
- Many other species, including the cheetah, elephant, helmeted hornbill, tiger, totoaba (and
vaquita), and rhino, were the subject of specific decisions on improved conservation and management and enhanced and well-targeted enforcement action and demand reduction strategies.
- Trade regulation of various species, including the South African Cape Mountain zebra and several crocodile species, was eased in recognition of healthy wild populations.
- Parties made their first-ever targeted decisions on corruption, cybercrime, traceability, reducing demand for illegally traded animals and plants, and legal acquisition findings as well as major decisions on captive breeding.
- Efforts to open legal trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn were rejected, stronger decisions were taken to control domestic ivory markets, and a formal process for establishing a decision-making mechanism for ivory trade was ended.
- Trade protections were strengthened for all African populations of lion and parties agreed on the first-ever global ban on commercial trade in wild-taken lion bones, claws, skeletons, skulls, and teeth.