Wildlife Trade Regulation Needed More Than Ever

From medicine to musical instruments and from fashion and beauty products to delicacies, wildlife items in trade must be properly regulated to ensure the continued survival of animals and plants in the wild.

This is the main message from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which celebrated its 35th anniversary on 1 July 2010.

"While not a single one of some 34,000 CITES-listed species has become extinct as a result of international trade until now, growing pressures on biological resources make regulating global wildlife trade even more relevant today than it was in 1975 when countries brought this unprecedented global treaty into force", said CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon.

Global wildlife trade has increased significantly since 1975. CITES Trade Database, which registers legal trade in wildlife, holds over 10 million records of trade, with an average of 850,000 permits to trade in a CITES-listed species issued annually by the Convention's member States.

CITES-listed species that are traded in significant volumes include species as diverse as orchids, crocodiles and sea shells. More recently, CITES has been used to address the precarious situation of marine and timber species, such as the great white shark and mahogany.

The Web-based CITES Trade Data Dashboards, unveiled on the occasion of this anniversary, use the trade data from the annual reports of the Parties to provide an instant overview of the magnitude of wildlife trade per country and per species group, such as mammals, birds or fish.

For instance, the Dashboard provides a way to see general trends, such as "trade volume over time"; "top 10 trading partners", "top 5 items" and "trade by source (e.g. wild or captive breeding)".

"The International Year of Biodiversity offers an opportunity to both reflect upon the past successes and mobilize efforts to address current and future challenges. CITES has a proven track record in managing wildlife trade internationally.

Its ongoing relevance and ability to adapt to changing circumstances are essential to the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife," concluded Scanlon.

Kruger National Park - South African Safari