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World Wildlife Day

03 March 2014

Today we’re celebrating the first annual World Wildlife Day. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as an occasion to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora, the date was chosen to coincide with the day that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was first adopted. UNEP-WCMC is proud to support this Convention – and much of our work promotes its implementation.

CITES is an international agreement between governments which aims to ensure that international trade in animals and plants does not threaten the survival of species in the wild. UNEP-WCMC provides a range of knowledge management and analytical services that support the effective implementation of the Convention by the 180 Parties to CITES.

UNEP-WCMC manages two major resources that help national governments to implement CITES. The Checklist of CITES Species, launched in October 2013, provides the official list of all species included in the CITES Appendices in an online format that is easily accessible. Parties to CITES can use this information when issuing permits for international trade. The Checklist’s sister website, Species+ provides information on the current listing of species in multilateral environmental agreements, including CITES and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), as well as those listed in the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. It also provides information on taxonomy, distribution and common names, and any trade restrictions in place.

By making information on CITES-listed species readily available, Species+ and the Checklist of CITES Species help improve CITES’ effectiveness in ensuring that international trade in wildlife is sustainable.
To promote effective monitoring of trade in CITES-listed species, UNEP-WCMC also manages the CITES Trade Database on behalf of the CITES Secretariat. Each year, every country that is party to CITES produces an annual report that details all international trade in CITES-listed species. These data are entered into the CITES Trade Database and can be searched on-line. Over one million records of trade were entered into the CITES Trade Database in 2013 alone, providing a unique and valuable resource for monitoring the use of wild fauna and flora.

UNEP-WCMC is starting to explore the substantial CITES trade dataset more fully, using novel methodologies to investigate the impacts of trade-related decisions by CITES Parties on trade patterns and ultimately on wildlife conservation and livelihoods. Future work aims to explore how the data can be used as an indicator of change within ecosystems and to develop tools and resources that contribute to the sustainable management of wildlife. We also have plans to upgrade the CITES Trade Database in order to improve its usability and would welcome feedback from CITES Parties on new features that would support their efforts to implement CITES.

We are grateful to CITES, CMS, UNEP, The European Union, the UK-based charity WCMC and the many data providers for making Species+ and the Checklist of CITES Species possible.