Humphead wrasse

26 February 2013: New measures to sustainably manage the international trade in sharks, rhinos, elephants and numerous other species will be debated at the triennial conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which takes place 3 to 14 March in Bangkok.

With 177 Parties, or government members, CITES is one of the world's most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation. IUCN was instrumental in creating the convention in 1973 and continues to provide technical and scientific advice.

A strong delegation of IUCN experts is attending this year’s meeting, helping the Parties to make scientifically-based and well-informed decisions. The conference is especially significant as it coincides with the 40 year anniversary of CITES.

There will be much debate at the Bangkok conference about how to manage and conserve species that are traded internationally and how to regulate this trade. Species such as sharks, snakes, humphead wrasse, Asian big cats, great apes, elephants, rhino, antelopes and crocodiles will all be under the spotlight.

“This year’s conference comes at a critical moment: rhino poaching is at record high, illegal trade in ivory and python skins is causing increasing concern and other species are also moving closer to extinction due to unsustainable trade,” says IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “Countries must step up cooperation and enforce existing laws to ensure that wildlife is used sustainably, securing healthy biodiversity and livelihoods.”

Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and includes hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist souvenirs and foods used for medicines.

Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and the trade in them, together with other factors, such as habitat loss, is capable of heavily depleting their populations and even bringing some species such as the short-tailed albatross and the southern white rhino close to extinction. Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered, but the existence of an agreement to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important to safeguard these resources for the future.

CITES offers varying degrees of protection to thousands of species of animals and plants in international trade through a system of permits and certificates. Species are included in one of three lists, called Appendices. For every CITES Conference, IUCN and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, prepare the Analyses of the Proposals to Amend the Appendices. These are objective assessments of whether the proposals to change species listings on the Appendices meet the necessary trade and biological criteria.

The Convention is increasingly focusing on commercially-important species including fish and trees valuable for timber. Many of the proposals on the agenda reflect growing international concern about the accelerating destruction of the world’s marine and forest ecosystems through over-fishing and excessive logging.

We’ll be reporting on developments taking place at the Bangkok conference via blog posts from our experts, news stories and statements.


Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana

Time to put a stop to illegal wildlife trade, says IUCN

Bangkok, Thailand, 28 February 2013 – Poaching, illegal trade and other important issues facing wildlife today will be discussed at the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), taking place from 3 to 14 March 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, calls for urgent measures to halt illegal wildlife trade which is pushing many species to the brink of extinction. …  

28 Feb 2013 | International news release

African Black Rhino in Ngorongoro.

African rhinos won’t hold out for much longer, IUCN experts warn

Gland, Switzerland, 26 February 2013 – Nearly 2,400 rhinos have been poached across Africa since 2006, slowing the population growth of both African rhino species to some of the lowest levels since 1995, according to the latest facts revealed by IUCN experts. …   | French | Spanish

26 Feb 2013 | International news release

  • IUCN/TRAFFIC Analysis of the proposals to amend the CITES Appendices at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

    IUCN/TRAFFIC Analysis of the proposals to amend the CITES Appendices at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties.