Species protection is rarely as dramatic as an ivory fire. Instead, much is being played out in the soulless conference rooms of CITES, the convention on international trade in endangered species of wildlife. This binding treaty between governments was created “to protect certain species of wildlife from overfishing by international trade.” For more information on changes in the regulation of the international timber trade, see: Changes in the regulation of international trade in the CITES species fact sheet The scale of trade is shocking: between 2006 and 2015, 1.3 million live animals and plants, 1.5 million hides and 2,000 tonnes of meat were legally exported from Africa to Asia. , according to a 2018 traffic study. However, this example only applies to species listed by CITES. In fact, a minority of plants and animals are so lucky that they are even included in the treaty. The volume of international trade in animals not classified by CITES is about ten times greater than that of listed animals, Nijman said, while domestic trade is ten times larger. A 2019 analysis in the journal Science showed that, in nearly two-thirds of cases, CITES protection lags behind after it was found that a species was threatened by international trade. For example, while pangolins were finally added to Schedule I in 2017, it is estimated that millions of traffickers were smuggled in between 2000 and 2013. Of the eight species of pangolin, half are threatened with extinction or seriously threatened. The vast majority of animals in the wildlife trade are not protected by CITES.
On November 26, 2019, a number of changes will come into effect in the way the international wildlife trade is regulated. These amendments reflect the decisions taken at the 18th session of the CITES Parties Conference. As the exchange of wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, the regime requires international cooperation to protect certain species from overfishing. CITES was designed in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, more than 37,000 animal and plant species are protected to varying degrees, whether marketed as living specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.