CITES (which stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between the world’s governments. It was established to ensure that international trade does not threaten the survival of specimens. This includes wild animals and plants.
CITES exists because so many plants and animals are traded internationally. Without an international agreement to protect each species, many of these plants and animals could become extinct. Therefore, co-operation between each country is required in order to safeguard each species from over-exploitation.
The full text of the CITES convention was agreed to by 80 countries in 1973. Then in 1975 it was put in place. Back when CITES was first being considered, general public awareness of environmental issues barely existed. Nowadays, it’s an essential part of wildlife protection.
Today, over 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 species of plants are protected by CITES.
Which Species are Protected by CITES?
To see which plants an animals are protected by CITES, you can do one of the following:
- Search the CITES database. You can search by common name, species name, country, and more.
- Read the CITES appendices.
About the CITES Appendices
You’ll notice that there are three appendices. This is done because there are three different levels of protection. Here’s CITES’ explanation of the three appendices:
- Appendix I lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants. They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research. In these exceptional cases, trade may take place provided it is authorized by the granting of both an import permit and an export permit (or re-export certificate). Article VII of the Convention provides for a number of exemptions to this general prohibition.
- Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled. It also includes so-called “look-alike species”, i.e. species of which the specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reason. International trade in specimens of Appendix-II species may be authorized by the granting of an export permit or re-export certificate. No import permit is necessary for these species under CITES (although a permit is needed in some countries that have taken stricter measures than CITES requires). Permits or certificates should only be granted if the relevant authorities are satisfied that certain conditions are met, above all that trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.
- Appendix III is a list of species included at the request of a Party that already regulates trade in the species and that needs the cooperation of other countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation. nternational trade in specimens of species listed in this Appendix is allowed only on presentation of the appropriate permits or certificates.
For more information on CITES, check out the official CITES website.