Related Topics: Wildlife Protection, International Conventions
- The Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (CoP18) of CITES was recently held in Geneva.
Highlights of CoP18
- India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of star tortoises (Geochelone elegans), the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and small-clawed otters (Anoyx cinereus) in CITES have been approved.
- These species have been listed under Appendix I of CITES and will now enjoy the highest degree of protection.
- Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) will be included in CITES Appendix II.
Why listing species under Appendix I?
- Appendix I of CITES 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.
- 90% of trade of Star tortoises occurs as part of the international pet market.
- Star tortoise is categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by IUCN and a decline greater than 30% was predicted by 2025 if the exploitation continued or expanded.
- Small-clawed otter and smooth-coated otter are traded for their fur in the international market and their numbers are declining due to habitat loss.
- Tokay geckos are sold in the open in some south Asian countries and its inclusion in CITES Appendix II will bring some restriction on the sale.
What is CITES?
- It is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily.
- Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
- The CITES Secretariat is administered by UNEP and is located Geneva at, Switzerland.
- It is also known as Washington Convention.
CITES classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices,based on level of threats faced by them.
Appendix I species: It lists species that are in danger of extinction. It prohibits commercial trade of these plants and animals except in extraordinary situations for scientific or educational reasons.
Appendix II species: They are those that are not threatened with extinction but that might suffer a serious decline in number if trade is not restricted. Their trade is regulated by permit.
Appendix III species: They are protected in at least one country that is a CITES member states and that has petitioned others for help in controlling international trade in that species.[Sources: The Hindu, Indian Express]