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CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES ON WILD FAUNA AND FLORA (CITES)

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topics: Wildlife Protection, International Conventions

News

  • 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.

Threats

  • 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.

Classifications

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]

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