Along with habitat destruction, wildlife crimes such as poaching currently pose the largest threat to the future of some of the world’s most endangered species.

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Wildlife and the Law

In 1973 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was formed. The purpose of CITES is to decide the species that  are beingtraded which are in danger of becoming extinct and to establish laws to stop them from being pushed any closer to extinction by international trade. There are now 183 member countries and their representatives meet every two to three years for discussions and to decide whether any changes are needed. Environmental organisations can attend the conferences to contribute to the debates and to lobby the delegates.

When a country joins CITES, its government must pass laws to control or prohibit trade in live or dead specimens and parts or derivatives of them. The amount of trade allowed depends on which 'Appendix' (group) the species has been listed in. Any member country can put forward a species for listing, or changing to another appendix, but for this proposal to be adopted, two thirds of the delegates must vote for it. A proposal is usually a scientific report summarising the best available information on the status of the species and the impact of trade on it. The Convention cannot control trade between two countries who are not CITES members, but fortunately the number of member countries is slowly increasing year by year. 

There are three appendices:

Appendix I

trade is totally banned for primarily commercial purposes.

Appendix II

potentially threatened species for which trade is allowed if there is "no detriment" to the species: quotas (the numbers of individuals traded) may be imposed.

Appendix III

species requiring additional protection in their country of origin

Read More: Enforcing the law

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