CITES – protecting wildlife and fair trade


The acronym CITES is a recurring term when it comes to the manufacturing of animal products and traceability, but what does it mean?

CITES is the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, also known as the Washington Convention. It was conceived in 1973 and entered in force on 1 July 1975, initially signed by 80 countries, and today it grants different degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.

Considering that trade in wild animals and plants knows no borders, international cooperation is essential in order to regulate it. Since it was founded, CITES has been endorsed by 182 countries in an effort to protect endangered species through the monitoring of the global trade in plants, animals, and their by-products, ensuring that it does not threaten their survival.

The Convention ratified a list of endangered species whose trade is strictly prohibited, even in processed form. The agreement concerns plants (e.g. some species of cacti and orchids), animals (e.g. reptiles, corals, and snails) and by-products such as ivory and shells.
CITES embraces many areas of international trade, ranging from live animals and plants to wildlife products such as food (e.g. caviar), timber products (e.g. musical instruments), medicines (e.g. medicinal plants), and souvenirs.

CITES has made the trade of this kind of products extremely monitored, that is why a number of online selling websites have excluded them from being sold and purchased through their platforms. In order to trade objects made of exotic leather, for example, a species protection banner is required.

With few exceptions (e.g. products made before 1973), selling this king of objects can be dangerous and the consultation of an expert on the subject is strongly recommended. Even when a product has been legally purchased, the CITES certificate should always be kept in order to prove legal possession.

Many wildlife species involved in international trade are not endangered yet, but the emergency related to habitat loss and other worrying factors has to be controlled. Therefore, traceability and the existence of a strong agreement such as CITES are priceless in order to safeguard all these resources for future generations.

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