New Online Tool Monitors Endangered Species Trading

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 25, 2010 (ENS) – A new interactive tool that enables users to view trade data about wildlife and plants in 175 countries is now offered online by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, to mark its 35th anniversary.

The CITES Trade Data Dashboards are designed to monitor the worldwide trade in wild animals and plants as more terrestrial and aquatic species are used, and often over-used, for human purposes.

“The CITES trade dashboards make the trade datasets easier to use and accessible by a wider audience,” said CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon. “We have records going back many decades on trade under the Convention, and today we have over ten million such records.”

A crab-eating macaque, the most widely traded mammal, at Singapore’s Upper Pierce Reservoir (Photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly)

The dashboards can help users analyse this enormouis mass of data. “They offer policymakers an additional tool for identifying patterns of trade in listed species and related issues that may require special attention,” Scanlon said.

The dashboard tool was launched to mark the 35th anniversary of CITES. This conservation treaty, administered by the United Nations Environment Programme, was designed to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It entered into force in 1975.

More than 10 million trade transactions in animal and plant species have been reported to CITES since the Convention was established.

Users accessing the dashboards, for instance, can learn with a few 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 species most frequently traded for its skin.

Users can learn that the most widely traded species of mammal is a monkey known as the crab-eating macaque, or long-tailed macaque, Macaca fascicularis, an arboreal macaque native to Southeast Asia. The CITES dashboard shows that more than 135,000 of these macaques were traded in the five years from 2004 through 2008, the most recent years for which figures are available. While not endangered, populations are declining as they are in demand for pharmaceutical testing, research, and development.

The dashboard displays data on internationally regulated species that are legally traded under CITES for such purposes as food, personal care, housing, clothing and scientific and medical research.

The global dashboard displays global trade trends, while the national dashboard shows information by country. Users can consult the dashboards on the CITES website to see which species are traded, and in what volumes, both globally and by individual countries.

The trade data dashboards were developed by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre under a contract with the CITES secretariat.

Director of UNEP-WCMC Jon Hutton said the tool “complements others such as the recently launched Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT), which provides general information on biodiversity and natural habitats worldwide.”

The dashboards allow users to view data by:

  • taxonomic group
  • type of specimens, whether skins or live
  • source, whether wild, captive-bred or artificially propagated
  • year range in five-year intervals
  • top species or families in trade over time
  • top importers and exporters

The dashboards are intended to provide decision-makers access to the trade information that will help them make the best decisions to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of CITES-regulated species.

Click here to start using the CITES Trade Data Dashboards.

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