Crucial decisions that impact the fate of endangered species will be decided at CoP18 (18th Conference of the Parties), which stands to be the largest conference in the world governing the wildlife trade. At CoP17, GMFER displayed bold, vocal action, representing the thousands of people around the world marching to demand CITES representatives vote with a conscience. We continue to advocate for the strongest protections possible for elephants, rhinos, and lions, and will show up in full force at CoP18. For more information visit the CITES CoP18 webpage for Sri-Lanka.

Wildlife in Crisis

Wildlife populations in Africa (and around the world) are in precipitous decline due to serious threats: climate change, habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, poaching and unsustainable trophy hunting. Trade in wildlife body parts (ivory, rhino horn, lion bones, etc.) places increases pressure on these already endangered species, pushing them ever closer to the brink of extinction. We need bold change to ensure their survival. 

GMFER demands:

GMFER demands:

1. Exempt all animals listed on Appendix I and II from trophy hunting and trade in their body parts and live animals.

2. Demand that Japan and the EU close down their domestic ivory trade.

3. Ban animals with Appendix I and II status from captive breeding; their body parts/bones fuel the illegal wildlife trade and the demand for endangered species.

4. Vote in favour of proposals to uplist elephants to Appendix I and giraffes to Appendix II.

5. Reject proposals by certain SADC countries to re-open trade in ivory and other elephant body parts and in rhino horn.

6. Establish greater transparency in CITES’ issuing of permits, specifically permits for hunting trophies and export of live endangered species.

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.

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.


Comments submitted to US Fish & Wildlife Service

In the run-up to CoP17, GMFER submitted numerous public comments to US Fish & Wildlife Services, the agency that administers CITES regulations in the U.S., lobbying for the strictest protections possible for elephants, rhinos and lions.

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


GMFER uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing and protests to advocate against the trade in ivory and rhino horn and amplify the voices of indigenous African communities in the conversation about conservation.