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What is CITES? how does it protect wildlife?

What is CITES? how does it protect wildlife?

Most of the countries in the region have strict national laws to protect their wildlife resources and also a good system of nature reserves. Strong and well-enforced national laws are the key to securing such recourse systems.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) remains the umbrella international agreement on trade in wild species of flora and fauna. Its goal is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. All South Asian countries except the Maldives are signatories to the CITES Convention.

What is CITES?

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its purpose is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not constitute a threat to the survival of the species.

CITES (or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in its entirety) entered into force in 1975, with 10 signatory states (or parties). Since then, almost every country in the world has joined, apart from the European Union. CITES currently has 184 parties.

Since trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, its regulation requires international cooperation to protect certain species from overexploitation. CITES was conceived in this spirit of cooperation. Today, it offers varying degrees of protection to more than 37,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats, or dried herbs.

When and where will CITES CoP19 be held?

The 19th CITES Conference of the Parties, or CoP19, will be held in Panama City from November 14-25, 2022. Meetings of the convention’s Standing Committee will take place immediately before and after the CoP19, also in Panama City.

Parties to the Convention

CITES is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention (‘joined’ CITES) are known as Parties.

Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, in other words, they have to implement the Convention, it does not replace national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own national legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.

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For many years, CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest number of members, with 184 Parties today.

How many species does CITES protect?

CITES establishes protection for more than 38,000 species, subspecies and populations of animals and plants throughout the world.

what is a CITES appendix

There are three appendices to CITES that guide international trade based on how threatened each species is with extinction.

Appendix 1 offers the highest level of protection and includes species that are closest to extinction. These species can’t be legally traded, except under special circumstances like scientific research. Species listed in Appendix 1 include only about 3% of all species covered by CITES.

Appendix 2 includes plants and animals that are likely to be threatened with extinction if trade isn’t regulated. It also includes “look-alike” species that are similar to those listed in the appendices. International trade is permitted for plants and animals included in Appendix 2, but is monitored, limited and controlled with permits. Most of the species covered by CITES are included on this list (97%).

Appendix 3 includes species that are protected by at least one country, which requests cooperation from other governments to ensure that trade doesn’t threaten their survival. Only 1% of all species covered by CITES are included in Appendix 3.

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