How to protect Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora? - Seeker's Thoughts

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How to protect Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora?

There is a convention which has set international guidelines to protect endangered flora and fauna, and that is known as CITES.


What is CITES?

CITES or The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international agreement between governments. The aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

CITES is also known as Washington convention. It was drafted as result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members or the international union for conservation of nature (IUCN). CITES entered into force on 1 July 1975. It accords varying degree of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.

How does it operate?

CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, and re-export from the sea of species covered by the convention and authorized through licensing system.
Each party to the convention must designate one or more management authorities in charge administering the licensing system, and one or more scientific authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.
If a species is in the category of extinction, the treaty will impose a ban on the commercial trade of the listed of species. These species are listed on Appendix I of the treaty (may countries consider this the endangered species list).
If a species might have population level concerns then the species is listed on Appendix II, where commercial trade is allowed but there are certain restrictions. Examples of Appendix II species include: North American black bear, the golden eagle, and many orchid species. (Many countries would consider this a list of threatened species.)

Representatives of signatory countries meet every two years to carry out their responsibilities under the treaty. This event is referred to as a Conference of the Parties (COP).
There have been eleven of these meetings since 1975. List of meeting-date and places at these meeting it is decided which animals and plant should be listed on or removed from Appendix I or appendix II of the treaty.

Criticism

One of the strongest criticisms of CITES is that many of its member countries lack the strong governance needed to effectively enforce CITES restrictions. However, the treaty is making steps towards addressing these issues of law enforcement. Many of the parties donate to a fund which is used by the CITES secretariat to build capacity and improve law enforcement in developing member countries.
 Recently, one such fund was used to build capacity across developing countries or sustainable management of CITES- listed sharks and other aquatic species.
In recent times member government were asked to explicitly incorporate corruption in to their policies against wildlife trafficking.

Conclusion

The complexities of species conservation mean that one size rarely fits all. The sweeping regulations of CITES may lead to successful change for some countries and species, but cause further exploitation for others. In order for CITES to be effective, it must be adaptive, and should have the power to enforce regulations, provide incentives, and promote on-the ground conservation and community- based work when needed.