Table of Contents
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES)
- CITES is also known as the Washington Convention.
- It is an international agreement (multilateral treaty) between governments.
- It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted by members of IUCN in 1963. It entered into force in 1975.
- Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Parties to CITES
- States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention are known as Parties.
- CITES is legally binding on the Parties. However, it does not take the place of national laws.
- It only provides a framework to be respected by each Party. The parties need to adopt their own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
Q. With reference to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which of the following statements is/are correct?
- IUCN is an organ of the United Nations and CITES is an international agreement between governments
- IUCN runs thousands of field projects around the world to better manage natural environments.
- CITES is legally binding on the States that have joined it, but this Convention does not take the place of national laws.
Select the correct using the code given below.
- 1 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
- IUCN is an NGO. CITES is an international agreement between governments (multilateral treaty).
- Answer: b) 2 and 3 only
Conference of Parties to CITES (CoP)
- The CITES CoP is where governments around the world convene every two to three years to review and make decisions on the regulation of trade in endangered species.
- Representatives of the Parties to CITES, NGOs, and others attend CoP meetings.
- However, only CITES Parties can vote on decisions at the CoP.
The CoP will decide on:
- Proposals to list, remove, or change the listing of species on the CITES appendices.
- Policy and implementation measures to improve the effectiveness of the Convention.
Functioning of CITES
- CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls.
- All import and export of species covered by CITES has to be authorized through a licensing system.
- Each Party designates
- one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering the licensing system and
- one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.
- Management Authority in India: Director of Wildlife Preservation, MoEFCC.
- Other Management Authorities competent to grant permits: Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).
- Scientific Authorities: Zoological Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Wildlife Institute of India, etc.
Protection offered to species by CITES
- CITES accords varying degree of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.
- The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
Appendices I and II
- 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 in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
- At each regular meeting of the CoP, Parties submit proposals to amend these two Appendices.
- Those amendment proposals are discussed and then submitted to a vote.
- This Appendix contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.
Policy and Laws Concerning CITES in India
- International trade in all wild fauna and flora is regulated jointly through the provisions of the
- Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972,
- Foreign Trade (Development Regulation) Act 1992,
- Foreign Trade Policy of Government of India and
- Customs Act, 1962.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- Harming endangered species listed in Schedule I of the Act is prohibited throughout India.
- Hunting species that require special protection (Schedule II), big game (Schedule III), and small game (Schedule IV), is regulated through licensing.
- A few species classified as vermin (Schedule V), may be hunted without restrictions.
- The Act prohibits the trade in specified plants (Schedule VI) from an area specified by notification by GOI.
- The Schedule VI of the Act lists all the six plants of Indian origin included in CITES appendices.
- Trade in Scheduled animals (Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II) are prohibited under the act.
- Similarly, the Act disallows trade in all kinds of imported ivory, including that of African elephant.
- The Act has been amended in 2006 leading to the establishment of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Wild Life Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) with a statutory backing.
Foreign trade (Development and Regulation) Act 1992
- No export or import should be made except in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
- The act empowers GOI to order or make provision for prohibiting/regulating the import or export of any class of goods, which includes wildlife specimen and their products.
Foreign Trade Policy (2009-2014)
- Foreign Trade Policy announced periodically by the Ministry of Commerce contains information regarding the wildlife and wildlife products which are either prohibited or permitted for the purpose of import or export.
- The policy is decided in consultation with the Management Authority for CITES in India as far as matter relating to wild fauna and flora are concerned and is enforced through the Customs Act, 1962.
- Export or import of wild animals and plants, their parts and products is allowed for the purpose of research and exchange between Zoos, subject to licensing by the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
- The current policy does not permit commercial import of African ivory in view of the ban imposed by CITES.
- Import of other derivatives of wildlife is restricted and can be made only with prior permission of DGFT.
- Import of wild animals as pets is also subject to the provisions of CITES.
Enforcement: Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)
- Considering the seriousness of organised Wildlife Crime and illegal trade of Wildlife parts and products, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau was created in 2007 under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
- Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is designated nodal agency for CITES related enforcement.
- WCCB is a statutory multi-disciplinary body under the MoEFCC.
- The Bureau has its
- five regional offices at Delhi (headquarters), Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Jabalpur; and
- five border units at Ramanathapuram, Gorakhpur, Motihari, Nathula and Moreh.
- Under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, WCCB is mandated to
- collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime;
- disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies so as to apprehend the criminals;
- to establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank;
- co-ordinate actions by various agencies in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the Act;
- assist international organizations & foreign authorities to facilitate wildlife crime control;
- capacity building of the wildlife crime enforcement agencies;
- assist State Governments to ensure success in prosecutions related to wildlife crimes; and
- advise the Government of India on issues relating to wildlife crimes.
- It also assists and advises the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy governing such an item.
The 18th Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP18)
- CoP18 was originally planned to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in May and June of 2019.
- Due to the terrorist attacks, CoP18 has been rescheduled to August 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland.
- The last CITES CoP (CoP17) was held in 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Major developments in CITES CoP18
- Zambia floated a proposal to downlist its elephants to Appendix II of CITES, which in effect would have meant resuming the sale of its ivory stockpile.
- Governments rejected the proposal to resume international sales of ivory stockpiles.
- Elephants from the wild will no longer be shipped to zoos and circuses around the globe.
- A resolution calling for Japan and the European Union to close their legal domestic ivory markets was not adopted at the CoP18. (At least 20,000 elephants are being illegally killed each year in Africa for their ivory.)
India sought to boost the protection status of 5 species at CITES CoP18
- India has submitted proposals to the CITES regarding changes to the listing of various wildlife species.
- The proposals submitted are regarding changes in the listing of the smooth-coated otter, small-clawed otter, Indian star tortoise, Tokay gecko, wedgefish and Indian rosewood.
- The country seeks to boost the protection of all the five animal species as they are facing a high risk of international trade.
- For the Indian rosewood, the proposal is to remove the species from CITES Appendix II.
- India is among the parties proposing the re-listing of the star tortoise from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.
- The species faces two threats: loss of habitat to agriculture and illegal harvesting for the pet trade.
- With regard to the two otter species, India, Nepal and the Philippines have proposed that the listing be moved from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I for the more endangered species.
- A similar proposal has been made to include the Tokay gecko in Appendix I.
- India is also supporting proposals, such as the boosting of protection status for tarantulas (large hairy spiders), made by other countries.
- 27/08/2019: Star tortoise, Asian small-clawed and smooth-coated otters were included in Appendix I.
- A complete international ban will be enforced on their trade as part of efforts to boost numbers.
- IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable
- Habitat: Eastern parts of India and South East Asia.
- Threats: hunting for their skins and for pet trade, loss of wetland habitats, reclamation of wetlands for agriculture, poaching, etc.
Oriental small-clawed otter/ Asian small-clawed otter
- IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable
- Semiaquatic mammals which feed on fish, amphibians, birds and small mammals.
- Habitat: Freshwater wetlands ad forests of Himalayas, Western Ghats and Southeast Asia.
- Threat: hunting for their skins and for pet trade, habitat loss, pollution.
Indian Star Tortoise (IUCN)
- IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable
- Habitat: Eastern parts of India below West Bengal and Gujarat.
- Threats: traded for meat and pet trade (superstitious people pet them as they believe that the reptile brings prosperity).
Tokay Gecko (Wikipedia)
- IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern
- Habitat: North-East India and South-East Asia.
- Threats: used in traditional medicine in South East Asia and China.
- IUCN Red List Status: Critically Endangered
- Habitat: Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and western Indian Ocean.
- Threats: High levels of exploitation for its flesh and fins.
- IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable
- Habitat: Native to the foothills of the Himalayas
- Threats: Logging & wood harvesting.
Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE)
- The MIKE Programme was established by a CITES Resolution adopted at the CoP10 in 1997.
- MIKE is an international collaboration that measures the levels, trends and causes of elephant mortality.
- MIKE’s information base is used to support international decision-making related to conservation of elephants in Asia and Africa.
- The information and analyses are also presented at annual CITES meetings and meetings of the CoPs.
- One of the core mandates given to the MIKE Programme is to build capacity in elephant range States.
- There are currently 28 sites participating in the MIKE programme in Asia, distributed across 13 countries:
- India has 10 sites, followed by two sites each in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, and one site each in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.
- In 2017, IUCN was engaged by CITES to implement the MIKE Asia programme in two sub-regions:
- South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka
- Southeast Asia – Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.
- MIKE is entirely dependent on donor support. The European Union has been the most important donor for the MIKE programme in Africa since 2001, and in Asia since 2017.
The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC)
- TRAFFIC is an NGO (CITES on the other hand is a multilateral treaty) working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
- TRAFFIC is a joint programme of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and IUCN.
- Traffic is complimentary to CITES.
- The programme was founded in 1976, with headquarters now located in Cambridge, United Kingdom.
- TRAFFIC’s mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.
- It investigates and analyses wildlife trade trends, patterns, impacts and drivers to provide the leading knowledge base on trade in wild animals and plants.
Q. Consider the following statements in respect of Trade Related Analysis of Fauna and Flora in Commerce (TRAFFIC): (2017)
- TRAFFIC is a bureau under United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
- The mission of TRAFFIC is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: 2 only