Humans have always used wild animals and plants for their products, such as fruits and seeds for food, skins for clothing, wood for fires etc.

Enforcing the law

This is a difficult problem, especially when officials responsible for the enforcement don't take it seriously - and this happens all too often. Even CITES does not have a Law Enforcement Working Group. It is expensive to enforce a law and yet a law is useless unless it can be enforced.

Smuggling i.e. illegal trading, is not easy to control. It is easier to stop the poverty-stricken poacher than the rich, influential businessman, or, worse still, corrupted government official. It is also difficult for the customs officer to identify the protected species in a big shipment of animals and plants - especially as they are often hidden or disguised.

Of all the hundreds of species of animals and plants involved in international trading laws, amongst some of the best known examples are: big cats, whales, elephants, rhinos, bears, parrots, apes and rainforest plants.

Read More: Case History - Tigers

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