How to save elephants, crocodiles, mahogany or many other species? The GoodPlanet Foundation partners with CITES, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, which now protects over 35000 animal and plant species.
Astonishingly, one of the most powerful weapons we have to protect wildlife remains unknown to the public: CITES, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. This convention has saved elephants, crocodiles, sturgeons, mahogany or alpaca. It now protects 35 000 animal and plant species.
This convention, also known as the Washington convention from the town where it was signed in 1973, is celebrating its 40th anniversary. For the delegates of the 177 signatory countries who are meeting in Bangkok for this anniversary, it will be the occasion to assess its achievements and improve the protection of one species or another: listing many new species to the convention, especially sharks, extremely threatened, or reinforcing the protection of species which are already listed such as elephants or rhinos that face intense poaching.
Find out more about how CITES was able to protect crocodiles.
CITES addresses the protection of wildlife in a rather unexpected manner: by looking at it in terms of trade. It regulates the international trade of beings or the products that are derived from them: ivory, rhino horns, reptile skins, precious wood, aquarium fish, flowers…
In our modern world, where money is either the driving force or the reason for so many things, it is clearly a position that makes a difference. That is not the way I look at the world, but I understand that it is a major issue. Since by prohibiting the trade in certain species or materials derived from wildlife – such as ivory – we can protect them. And, by regulating their trade, and creating responsible industries, we can provide human populations with means of subsistence all while preserving biodiversity. (Provided we do so in ethical ways that show respect for the animals and their well-beings, which is beyond the scope of the Convention but at the heart of my concerns).
The work of CITES is absolutely essential, it is also remarkably effective. As noted by John Scanlon, the general secretary of the Convention, 100% of the animals and plants listed under the Convetion have been protected: not one of them has become extinct since its inception. This effectiveness is absolutely unique.
CITES has asked GoodPlanet to contribute to the celebration of its 40th anniversary and help get their work and the essential challenges they work on known. We are thus publishing a book on the matter, entitled: “Wild and precious”. Read it!
Several photographers have accepted to contribute to this publication: Laurent Baheux, Sandra Bartocha, Heidi et Hans-Jürgen Koch, Mark Laita, Brian Skerry. From this book and its photos, the Foundation will organize exhibits in the whole world. I hope you will be able to discover them.
The motto of our Foundation is “Living Together”. I think it is truly the challenge that awaits those who want to protect biodiversity.