We agree with Gerson et al. that wildlife trade can threaten some species and that mechanisms to monitor trade in species of conservation concern are needed. We disagree, however, with the practical advantages they attribute to monitoring the trade in wildlife products with a species-specific taxonomic code for the millions of shipments processed by customs annually. Moreover, we argue that such an approach is inadequate in terms of the effort and skills it would require and the conservation benefits afforded.
We suggest that well-targeted instruments that consider contextual information, such as conservation status, are instead the most effective and efficient approach to monitoring international wildlife trade for conservation purposes. Where relevant, such instruments could be expanded to include additional species not currently protected, or new instruments could be developed to monitor certain groups as appropriate.
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