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How CITES Works

Born Free USA is a key player in working to protect threatened and endangered species from overexploitation through international trade, particularly commercial trade. We accomplish this, in part, through strong defense, implementation and enforcement of CITES. The Treaty was ratified in Washington, DC, in 1973 and is also known as the "Washington Convention."

Threatened and endangered species are protected under CITES when they are listed under certain CITES appendices. Appendix I prohibits international commercial trade and requires permits from both the country of export and the country of import for any non-commercial trade to occur; Appendix II allows commercial trade under certain conditions and requires only the granting of an export permit from the country of origin; Appendix III is reserved for species who are unilaterally declared in need of monitoring by an individual nation to prevent potential population declines.

CITES has helped stem the precipitous decline in literally thousands of species, including African and Asian elephants, tigers, all species of bears, all of the great whales, sea turtles, parrots, great apes and other primates, and, more recently, commercial fish and timber species. Without effective implementation of the Convention, species across the globe will be put at significant risk of population decline and potential extinction due to international trade.