Appendix 1 listing for elephants failed to pass at CoP17! A huge disappointment, but the conference was not a total loss for elephants and rhinos.

CoP17 Recap

  • An overwhelming majority voted NOT to extend the mandate to continue an 8-year debate on creating a process to legalize ivory trade in the future.
  • CITES agreed to recommend countries should urgently close their domestic ivory markets, the first time ever that CITES agreed on closure rather than just regulation of national markets.
  • A process to develop guidance on management and disposal of ivory stockpiles was also created.
  • Two proposals that would have allowed ivory to be traded legally on a global scale in the future were rejected.
  • Botswana, one of the four countries with elephants on Appendix II and who had formerly voted against up-listing elephants, came out in favor of an Appendix I listing.
  • Swaziland proposal to open up trade in rhino horn was unequivocally rejected.
  • Unfortunately, lions did not get up-listed to Appendix 1, a huge failure to afford them the strictest protections under international law they so desperately need and deserve.

What is CITES?

A global treaty enacted in the 1970s, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) aims to ensure the survival of endangered species threatened by international trade.

CITES decisions determine the rules governing the wildlife trade and have an enormous impact on endangered species. That’s why we’re focused on CoP17 this year.

What is CoP17?

CoP17 (the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties) was the world’s largest and most influential meeting on international wildlife trade. It was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24th September to 5th October 2016.

CoP18 will be held in Sri Lanka in 2019.

Official CITES CoP17 logo

How CITES Works

Listing in Appendices

Protected species are listed in one of three appendices, depending on how threatened they are. Appendix 1 provides the greatest degree of protection.

Designated Authorities

Each country that implements CITES designates a Management Authority and Scientific Authority to carry out the treaty. In the U.S., CITES is administered through U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.

Monitoring Trade

A permit system is used to track and monitor trade. Unfortunately corruption leads to forged paperwork, enabling the illegal wildlife trade to persist.

Comments Submitted to US Fish & Wildlife Service

CoP17 Comments

In the lead-up to CoP17, USFWS put out several calls for comments from the public on proposed agenda items and species listing proposals. GMFER submitted the following comments.

Comment on CoP17 provisional agenda (8/8/16)


Proposed Resolutions, Decisions, and Agenda Items Being Considered (2/2/16) – Tracking Number: 1k0-8nqs-hf7p

Taxa Being Considered for Amendments to the CITES Appendices (10/26/15) – Tracking Number: 1jz-8lwo-glj0
Tracking Number: 1jz-8lwq-g9om

Request for Information and Recommendations on Resolutions, Decisions, and Agenda Items for Consideration (7/10/15) – Tracking Number: 1jz-8jwr-3j86

Other Comments

Draft Environmental Assessment; Dallas Zoo Management; Dallas, Texas (11/23/15)!documentDetail;D=FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0157-3362 – Tracking Number: 1jz-8mfg-u1k7

Revision of the Special Rule for the African Elephant (9/28/15) – Tracking Number: 1jz-8le3-fodr

Listing the African Lion Subspecies as Threatened (1/27/15)!documentDetail;D=FWS-R9-ES-2012-0025-6897 – Tracking Number: 1jz-8gui-ml2m