CITES 2019: What’s Conservation Got To Do With It?

By Susan Lieberman | August 16, 2019

Jaguar. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

“If a species is found in multiple countries, and is declining or endangered in some and more secure in others, sound conservation practice and the precautionary principle dictate that international measures should focus on the populations needing the most help.”

Species whose very future on this planet will be debated include the African elephant, Southern white rhino, giraffe, tiger, jaguar, cheetah, and mako shark. Several lesser known species will also be considered — among them the saiga antelope, helmeted hornbill, glass frogs, Indian star tortoise, and so many others.

Wild male saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) visiting a waterhole at the Stepnoi Sanctuary, Astrakhan Oblast, Russia. Photo credit: Andrey Giljov [CC BY-SA 4.0]

“When governments join a treaty such as CITES, they have agreed to act for the global good, and not only act or decide based on their own national or trade interests.”

There has been some rebounding of populations, but the species is still threatened by poaching and illegal trade; the males’ horn is used in traditional medicine in China and Southeast Asia. In addition, disease outbreaks recently killed at least 200,000 saiga in the course of only three weeks.

Glass frog in Costa Rica. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

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