Delays in banning wildlife trade put hundreds of species at risk

Written by
B. Rose Huber
B. Rose Huber, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs
Viktoria Ekstrom High
Feb. 13, 2020

Two-thirds of species endangered by wildlife trade wait nearly two decades or more to be protected.

From parrots to lizards, hundreds of animal species could be at risk of extinction because of a policy process that responds slowly to scientific knowledge, according to a study in Science. The study suggests concrete steps policymakers can take to speed up a wildlife protection process that can take more than 20 years.

The researchers analyzed 958 species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List that are endangered by international trade. Of those, they discovered that 28% are not protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the primary international framework for preventing species extinction due to international wildlife trade.

“CITES and the Red List are two of the most important tools we have to save wildlife threatened by international trade. It’s vital that these two institutions work together closely and quickly to stop the killing,” said David Wilcove, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

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