International Agreement Endangered Species

  • 26/09/2023

International Agreement to Protect Endangered Species: Why it’s Important and Where we Stand

The world is home to millions of species of plants and animals, but sadly, many of them are at risk of becoming extinct. This is due to a variety of threats, including habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and illegal hunting and poaching.

In an effort to protect endangered species and their habitats, many countries have signed on to international agreements designed to promote conservation efforts and prevent the extinction of important animals and plants. One of the most significant of these agreements is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Established in 1975, CITES is an international agreement between governments that regulates the trade of wildlife and plant species, with the goal of ensuring that international trade does not threaten the survival of these species in the wild. To date, 183 countries have signed on to the convention, with the participation of the European Union. Under CITES, plant and animal species are listed in one of three appendices, depending on the level of protection they require.

Appendix I: Species listed under Appendix I are those that are most endangered and are threatened with extinction. International trade in these species is strictly prohibited, with rare exceptions.

Appendix II: Species listed under Appendix II are those that are not currently threatened with extinction, but may become endangered if their trade is not regulated effectively. International trade in these species is permitted, but must be accompanied by appropriate documentation to ensure that trade is legal and sustainable.

Appendix III: Species listed under Appendix III are those that are protected in at least one country that has requested assistance from other CITES parties to prevent the unauthorized exportation of these species.

The effectiveness of CITES has been demonstrated in several cases where it has successfully protected endangered species from over-exploitation. For example, the trade in ivory has been largely curtailed since the 1989 ban on ivory sales, which was instituted as a result of increased poaching of African elephants for their tusks. Similarly, the number of wild tigers in India has increased from 1,400 in 2006 to 2,967 in 2019, largely due to stricter enforcement of CITES regulations.

However, despite the progress made, there are still numerous challenges that threaten the effectiveness of international agreements like CITES. One of the main challenges is the illegal trade in wildlife, which is estimated to be worth billions of dollars each year. This trade is often fueled by demand for exotic pets, traditional medicines, and luxury goods made from endangered species, such as ivory, rhino horn, and shark fins.

Another challenge is the lack of resources and capacity in some countries to effectively implement and enforce CITES regulations. Many countries lack the personnel, technology, and equipment necessary to monitor trade, detect illegal shipments, and prosecute those involved in illegal activities.

In conclusion, it is essential that we continue to support international agreements like CITES to protect endangered species and their habitats. To do so, we must work together to address the challenges that threaten the effectiveness of these agreements, including the illegal trade in wildlife and the need for greater resources and capacity for enforcement. By working together, we can ensure that future generations can enjoy the wonder and diversity of the natural world.