Endangered Species Handbook

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Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

     The Endangered Species Act of 1973 also implements the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as CITES.  The purpose of CITES is to prevent international trade from contributing to the endangerment of any species.  To achieve this, CITES establishes a system of trade controls that vary in their restrictiveness, depending upon the degree of jeopardy each species faces.  The trade controls imposed by CITES apply only to the species listed on three Appendices to the Treaty.  The species listed on Appendix I of the Treaty receive the most protection; they cannot be imported or exported for primarily commercial purposes.  To be traded for other purposes, such as zoological or scientific imports, a specimen of any species listed in Appendix I must be accompanied by an export permit from the exporting country and an import permit from the importing country.
     Species on Appendix II of CITES, which are the vast majority of all species protected by the Treaty, can be traded for both commercial and noncommercial purposes.  However, they must be accompanied by an export permit, which may be issued only upon the finding that the export of the specimens concerned will not be detrimental to the survival of the species. This requirement allows countries to control trade in those species listed on Appendix II.
     Member countries may unilaterally list species on Appendix III that are protected within the countries' borders.  The purpose of Appendix III is to obtain international cooperation in the enforcement of national conservation laws.  Countries importing specimens of a species listed on Appendix III--from the country responsible for including the species on the Appendix--must insist upon presentation of a permit showing that the specimens were lawfully acquired and exported from that country.

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