By Barbara A. Junge

Proposed changes to international protections for dozens of wildlife species will be discussed at CITES World Wildlife Conference, Sept. 24 to Oct. 5, 2016, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Species at issue include the African elephant, rhinos, sharks, African grey parrot, American crocodile, and many other animals as well as plants.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that the billions of dollars in annual trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. By regulating the international trade of more than 35,000 species of plants and animals (and products derived therefrom), CITES is one of the world’s most powerful tools for conservation – it is enforceable by all member nations, with fines that can run in the millions. Examples of products governed by CITES include foods, exotic leather goods, medicines, fur coats, and tourist curio items.

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