• World Wildlife Day (WWD) was commemorated recently.
  • To draw attention to issues of conservation of flora and fauna.
  • It marks the 50th anniversary of CITES’ establishment.
  • CITES is considered a landmark agreement on conservation that focuses on ensuring the sustainability of endangered species.


Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation.

What is the CITES?

  • CITES is an international agreement between governments.
  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
  • It accords varying degrees of protection to more than 37,000 species of animals and plants, ranging from live animals and plants to wildlife products derived from them.


  1. There are 184 parties to the convention, including India.
  2. The CITES Secretariat is administered by UNEP (The United Nations Environment Programme).
  3. Located in Geneva, Switzerland.


  • The Conference of the Parties to CITES is the supreme consensus-based decision-making body of the Convention and comprises all its parties.
●      In India, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

●      It is especially meant to combat organised wildlife crime in the country.

●      It assists and advises the customs authorities in the inspection of the consignments of flora and fauna as per the provisions of the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972, CITES and the export and import policy governing items.

The species covered under CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need:

Appendix I:

  • Includes species threatened with extinction.
  • Trade in specimens of these species is permitted rarely, only in “exceptional circumstances”, such as gorillas, and lions from India.

Appendix II:

  • includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to ensure their survival.
  • For example, certain kinds of foxes and Hippopotamuses.

Appendix III:

  • contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.
  • For example, Bengal fox or the Golden Jackal from India.

Criticism of CITES:

  • Having wildlife allowed to be traded further legitimises their movement and increases the possibility of their illegal trade.
  • In nearly two-thirds of cases, CITES protections lag after a species is determined to be threatened by international trade.
  • For example, while pangolins were finally added to Appendix I in 2017, an estimated million were trafficked between 2000 and 2013.
  • Also, many animals that are in the wildlife trade are not protected by CITES.
  • Countries are rarely sanctioned and the process can become highly politicized.
  • Another problem is the voluntary nature of CITES membership, so nobody is strictly bound to follow its direction.
  • There were sharp spikes in elephant poaching globally after one-off sales were allowed by the CITES in 1999 and 2008, of recovered ivory or from elephant deaths due to natural causes.


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