Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

Care for the Wild has participated in several CITES conferences to campaign for increased restrictions on the trade in wild animal species, and continues to be involved in CITES via Species Survival Network.

CITES 2013

The 16th CITES conference in Bangkok has finished, and we were there. We were aiming to lobby, advise, support and attend working groups and influence key decision makers. We were also working closely with team SSN (Species Survival Network) to maximise our impact.

We supported the Polar Bear Uplisting proposal, and were also active in rhino and elephant decision making mechanisms and support structures and legislation. Plus any other issues that concerned us, our projects or our supporters.

You can find out what happened by reading our CEO’s blogs from CITES 2013 here.

Catch up on all of our news releases from CITES here.

The Situation

The world’s wildlife is in crisis. Almost a quarter of all vertebrates (that’s mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians) that have been assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are classified as being threatened with extinction to some degree or other. The causes of this crisis are almost all man-made; as the human population explodes past 7 billion, we are destroying habitats and using wildlife at an unprecedented rate.

One of the many factors threatening wildlife is international trade. People trade wild animals or products derived from them for all kinds of reasons; as food, medicines, tonics, for their skins or fur, as trophies and ornaments, and as pets.

The scale of worldwide trade in wildlife is huge, and the illegal trade is thought to be second only to drugs in global value.


CITES was set up in 1973, in order to assess which animals and plants were threatened by international trade, and to oblige member countries to implement regulations to protect them. CITES now has 175 member countries.

Although its name implies that it considers endangered species, the convention actually concerns itself with issues relating to international trade in any species of wild fauna or flora. The main aim of the convention is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival, and it currently offers varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 species.

What Are We Doing?

In conjunction with our partner organisations in the Species Survival Network (SSN), Care for the Wild has been involved in many lobbying and campaigning activities to secure the best decisions at CITES for wild animal species.

At the last CITES conference which took place in Doha, Qatar, in March 2010, Care for the Wild was involved in campaigning on various issue, which included:

Increased protection for rhinos:

Increases in rhino horn trafficking threatens to wipe out critically endangered rhino species, and reverse the fragile growth in some of Africa’s rhino populations that has been achieved in recent decades. Care for the Wild called for measured to be taken to strengthen the ability of the international community to reduce rhino poaching and further loss of rhino habitat.

Rejecting ivory stockpile sale proposals:

Once very numerous over much of Africa and Asia, elephants are now in real danger. Through trophy hunting and changes in land use, but principally through man’s desire for ivory, populations of elephants have declined However, a “loophole” in CITES laws meant that Tanzania and Zambia were able to put forward proposals for the down listing of their elephant populations to allow them to sell off their ivory stockpiles. Care for the Wild called on CITES to reject these proposals.

Uplisting the polar bear:

The United States put together a proposal for the effective ban on all international trade in polar bears or their parts. The proposal proved to be contentious because the principal threat to polar bears comes from global warming, not from trade. Care for the Wild argued that the problem is that if polar bear populations continue to decline as they are predicted to because of climate change and melting ice, trade in them or their parts could have an increasing impact on the declining populations. So it’s vitally important that the US proposal for uplisting is accepted if we are to ensure that everything possible is done to help secure the future for polar bears.

What Can You Do?

Write to your MP or MEP, asking them to make sure the EU votes for threatened species protection at the next CITES conference in 2013.