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New conservation tool to track trade in wild animals and plants
25/ 08/ 2010

New conservation tool to track trade in wild animals and plantsWhat do the Amazon peccaries, the African hippos and the North American bobcats have in common? According to a new web-based, research tool of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), they are among the top ten mammal species being sustainably traded around the world for their skins.

Cambridge (UK), 25 August 2010 - What do the Amazon peccaries, the African hippos and the North American bobcats have in common? According to a new web-based, research tool of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), they are among the top ten mammal species being sustainably traded around the world for their skins.

The Trade Data Dashboards, that were launched to mark the 35th anniversary of CITES, are a new, interactive way of viewing the wildlife trade data submitted by the governments of the 175 member countries of CITES.

Users accessing the dashboards can learn with a few brisk key strokes that reptile skins, specifically crocodile skins, are legally traded at a high volume and that Colombia is one of the major exporters of spectacled caiman, the reptile most frequently traded for its skin.

Whereas Interpol has a database to track criminals involved in illegal wildlife trade activities, the CITES dashboard displays data on internationally-regulated species that are legally traded under CITES for purposes such as food, personal care, housing, clothing and scientific/medical research.

There are two types of dashboards, available through the CITES website (www.cites.org). The Global dashboard displays global trade trends (e.g. global trade in live reptiles and the top ten countries importing live mammals), whereas the National dashboard shows information by country.

Just like the dashboard of your car, the CITES trade data dashboard is designed to organize and present information in a way that is easy to read. Users can view data in several different ways, including by:

Taxonomic group (e.g. mammal, bird, reptiles, etc.)
Type of specimen (e.g. skins or live);
Source (e.g. wild, captive-bred, etc.);
Year range (in five year intervals);
Top species in trade over time; and
Top importing and exporting countries.

Users can consult the dashboards to determine which species are traded, and in what volumes, both globally and by particular countries.

The trade data dashboards, which have been developed by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) under a contract with the CITES Secretariat, will be a useful tool for monitoring the worldwide trade in wild fauna and flora as more and more terrestrial and aquatic species are used, and sometimes over-used, for human activities.

Mr. John Scanlon, Secretary General of CITES said:" The CITES Trade Dashboards make the trade datasets easier to use and accessible by a wider audience. They offer policy makers an additional tool for identifying patterns of trade in listed species and related issues that may require special attention."

Jon Hutton, Director of UNEP-WCMC said: "This tool complements others such as the recently launched Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT), which provides general information on biodiversity and natural habitats worldwide. However, the database is composed exclusively of CITES-listed species in international trade, and thereby helps its users to identify which animals and plants may be in need of review and subsequent action."

More than 10 million trade transactions in animal and plant species have been reported to CITES since the Convention was established. The CITES trade data dashboards have transformed the ability of anyone to understand current trade levels and trends in trade. Indeed, by giving key decision makers ready access to important trade information helping policy-makers make the best possible decisions for ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of species whose trade is regulated by CITES.

For more information, please contact: Maxwell Gomera, Deputy Director, UNEP-WCMC; Email: maxwell.gomera@unep-wcmc.org, Tel: + 44 (0) 1223 814617

Further Resources
CITES Trade Data Dashboard
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
UNEP: World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC)