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Campaigners push for reform of outdated CITES wildlife trade system

12 / 08 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Groundbreaking reforms to the $320 billion legal wildlife trade are being put up for discussion at a major international conference this month as campaigners seek to modernize a system they say hasn’t changed in nearly 50 years. Trade in everything from rhino horn and elephant ivory to python skins, wild orchids and timber is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a treaty dating back to 1975 and backed by more than 180 countries around the world. But campaigners say that the way in which CITES manages the global wildlife trade has not been updated since it was first set up. In particular, it still relies on a paper-based permit system that does not integrate with international customs protocols, leading to a lack of transparency and traceability in the industry. In addition, the basis on which CITES operates — to list those species for which trade is limited or banned completely — is the opposite of many other industries, campaigners say. It should be reversed, they contend, so that those only those species in which trade is permitted are listed, and those wishing to profit from the trade must demonstrate that it is sustainable. Pair of orphaned elephant calves at a rescue center in Kenya. Photo by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay. Lynn Johnson is the CEO and founder of the Australia-based nonprofit Nature Needs More, which initially looked at the illegal trade in wildlife products and quickly realized there were many fundamental loopholes and flaws in the legal…

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