Focusing On The Conservation of Ecosystems, Habitats & Wildlife


Industrialized countries legally imported 38,500 live primates in 2002, largely for use in research laboratories; half went to the USA. Trade in other animals, in particular parrots and reptiles, is mostly driven by the pet trade, with 385,600 parrots legally imported in 2002, nearly half of them to Europe. There is also a large trade in reptile skins, now fashionable for clothes and accessories. Over 200,000 alligator skins are sold each year, although many of these are from farmed, rather than wild, animals. Reptile farming practices in some countries are brutal, and include skinning snakes alive, supposedly to obtain more supple skins.

The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) came into force in January 1975 and currently has over 170 signatory states.  Under the convention, these states agree to ban commercial international trade in some species of animal and plant and to monitor trade in others. Export and import licenses have to be issued for species covered by the convention, and trade statistics reported annually to the CITES Trade Database, managed by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK. Compliance with the reporting requirements is by no means universal, however, with many countries failing to send in even 50 percent of the required reports.