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The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Andrew White

DSWF advocates on important wildlife trade issues that come under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). We send highly qualified representatives to international meetings, where they proactively lobby on issues such as the trade in wildlife parts as well as compliance and enforcement issues.

We fund an expert team that includes Dr. Roz Reeve, one of the most respected and experienced environmental lawyers operating in this field, who advises and represents DSWF at the highest level of international engagement.

What is CITES?

CITES is an international agreement between governments. It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

How does CITES work?

CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export, and introduction of species covered by the Convention is required to be authorised through a licensing system. Each party, which are the individual member countries to the Convention, must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.

How are endangered species classified?

The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection required.

Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.

Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, who have asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

William Fortescue
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

What is the Conference of the Parties?

The Conference of the Parties (CoP) is the main decision-making body of the Convention and is made up of all its parties. For more information regarding CITES, please visit their official website here.

What does DSWF do at CITES?

Without CITES there would be almost no international cooperation and regulation covering global wildlife trade. The process is far from perfect but the importance of CITES is without question. For DSWF, attending the conference is essential in making our voice heard on the importance of species protection, regulation, and cooperation to tackle wildlife crime.  

At regular CITES meetings, DSWF leads a team of expert campaigners, lawyers, biologists, and fellow conservationists to fight for the toughest protection possible for elephants in the international arena. We also work with conservation colleagues to focus on several other endangered species, including tigers, pangolins, and rhinos – all of which where trade is considered, are being driving close to extinction.

Ivory Trade

DSWF has played a pivotal role in elephant conservation at CITES for many decades. 

We were a key part of the team who ensured that the closure of domestic ivory markets worldwide was recognised as a vital step in ensuring the survival of the species. We continue to lobby for stronger international policy to reflect this. 

DSWF is an NGO partner of the Africa Elephant Coalition (AEC), a consortium of 32 member countries and elephant range states whose mission is to ensure there is a healthy and viable elephant population, free of threats from the international ivory trade.  

We have helped ensure that the international trade in ivory is not re-opened. In addition, we have helped support the development of new comprehensive guidelines on stockpiles and their management, to re-emphasise our view regarding the destruction of stockpiles as a positive signal that ivory should not be given a commercial price tag and that the only worthwhile value of ivory is to an elephant itself.

Andrew White
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
The Convention on Biological Diversity

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), DSWF is working to eliminate the commercial exploitation of wildlife where it is not ecologically, biologically or culturally sustainable. Furthermore, we are campaigning to end the exploitation of any species that pose a risk to human health. Learn more.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
International Wildlife Law & Policy

Through tireless dedication,  DSWF has influenced policy, shifted attitudes and provided an unwavering voice for the conservation of endangered species since 1984. Find out more here.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Climate Change & Conservation

DSWF operate in some of the countries that are likely to be hit the hardest by the climate crisis despite them doing almost nothing to cause it, and we work with communities that are amongst the most vulnerable to its impacts.  Our project partners are already reporting dramatic and negative changes to the climate in areas they work in. Find out more here.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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