ZSL sees key wildlife trade priorities achieved at CITES CoP17

As the 17th CITES Congress of Parties (CoP17) draws to a close in Johannesburg, ZSL’s delegation are delighted to have contributed to a number of positive results across the Society’s priority areas, as agreed in the run-up to this crucial global conference on illegal wildlife trade. 

Chabils the cheetah and her cubs

Key outcomes achieved by attending countries (‘Parties’) at CITES CoP17, through extensive international collaboration and dialogue facilitated by ZSL and our fellow conservation NGOs, included the following: -

  • AFRICAN ELEPHANTS: Resisted efforts to reintroduce the potential for legal international trade in ivory, whilst also putting in place measures to close domestic ivory markets linked to illegal trade and strengthening individual country efforts to combat poaching and trafficking.
  • AFRICAN GREY PARROTS: Secured transfer of these vulnerable birds, under pressure from the illegal pet trade, from Appendix II to Appendix I – the highest level of CITES protection.
  • ANGUILLID EELS: Promoted need for better understanding of the populations of all 16 anguillids and the impacts of trade and other threats on their status.
  • CHEETAHS: Ensured stronger protections for the world’s fastest land mammal, currently classed as vulnerable by IUCN and facing threats including illegal trafficking to feed foreign demand for exotic pets.
  • HELMETED HORNBILLS: Approving strengthened national and international measures to address the burgeoning illegal trade in Asia’s largest hornbill species, poached for its ‘red ivory’.
  • ASIAN BIG CATS: Agreeing stronger and more coordinated actions to tackle the illegal trade in Asian big cats and their products – focused on strengthening global law enforcement efforts and reducing the risk of products from animals held in captive facilities entering the illegal trade.
  • PANGOLINS: Securing promotion of all African and Asian species of these ‘scaly anteaters’ from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I, reflecting the pressures facing what are currently the world’s most-trafficked mammals.
  • SHARKS AND RAYS: Securing the addition of the silky shark, three species of thresher shark and nine species of mobula ray (or ‘devil ray’), facing increasing pressure from overfishing and unsustainable trade, to CITES Appendix II.

“CITES CoPs are complex environments and achieving any kind of agreement between over 150 Parties attending CoP17, across a range of often emotive proposals, is no mean feat. But we can feel happy that, as a result of the decisions reached here, we have made significant strides in helping some of our best-loved species currently threatened by trade,” explains illegal wildlife trade specialist Paul De Ornellas, who led ZSL’s team at the event. 

“None of these results would have been possible without close collaboration across Parties and our fellow NGOs but on behalf of ZSL – the first time we have sent a formal delegation to this event – I would like to take this opportunity to thank both our own delegation and all CoP17 attendees for their hard work and dedication over almost two weeks of back-to-back sessions in Johannesburg to make these positive outcomes possible.”



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