The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES, 1973) is a multilateral treaty ratified by 181 states which aims to protect approximately 35,000 endangered species (CITIES, 2015) from overexploitation by ensuring that the international trade in wildlife does not threaten a species’ survival in the wild.
CITIES aims to enhance its partners’ ability to implement the convention, strengthen the scientific basis of decision-making, promote understanding of the convention’s goals and improve the financial capacity and administrative workings of the organization (CITIES, 1973). The success of transnational criminal networks dealing in endangered wildlife highlights the need to improve multilateral cooperation with the end of eradicating at source, in transit and at consumption level, an illicit trade in endangered species estimated to be worth $7.8-10 billion US dollars in 2005 (Haken, 2011).
While the convention’s targets may be measurable with regard to species such as large land mammals, limited knowledge of many other species has limited CITIES in its ability to actively monitor populations. Measuring CITIES’ success is thus problematic given that identifying causal mechanisms both in changes to species population health and in the extent of licit/illicit international trade in wildlife is often impossible. Additionally, the impact of climate change...
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... (Kievet, 2000).” Similar successes have been achieved in the cases of the Vicuña and African Cherry Tree (Abensperg-Traun, 2009) on the introduction of a quota clause for listed species under the significant trade process.
The historic reluctance of CITIES to consistently apply the notion of sustainable trade as a conservation mechanism has prevented the convention from achieving significant success despite evidence demonstrating the negative effects of complete trade bans. Given that the trade in endangered wildlife overwhelmingly originates in the developing world, the latter’s preference for sustainable community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) must take preference over animal rights concerns. The renegotiation of conservation criteria and delisting mechanisms must be undertaken with the end of improving the operational coherency of CITIES.
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