CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It is a piece of legislation designed to control the transport of over 30,000 species of animals and plants around the world.
In doing so, CITES aims to conserve endangered species by monitoring their worldwide movements and thus reducing the number of illegally wild-caught specimens being introduced into the pet trade. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the CITES legislation doesn’t just cover live animals but also a variety of other derivative products. These are products that may be made from animals, including everything from fur coats to old pianos with ivory keys.
The good news is that for most pets, CITES isn’t a concern. Unsurprisingly, pets such as dogs and cats are hardly classed an endangered species, so most pet owners needn’t worry about the rules surrounding CITES. Whilst each country has their own rules surrounding the import and export of pets, CITES won’t be a concern for the average pet owner.
In contrast, keepers of what we might class as “exotic pets” – such as cage birds or reptiles – may not get off so lightly. Thanks to a combination of habitat destruction and excessive smuggling of many exotic pet species, a variety have now been added to CITES in an effort to maintain healthy wild populations.
What Pet Species Are Covered By CITES?
There are a surprising number of well-known pet species that are covered by the CITES legislation. For example, virtually all parrot species are on the list with the exception of budgerigars, cockatiels, lovebirds and ring-neck parakeets. Some other pet bird species are also covered such as the much-loved Indian Hill Mynah.
Reptile keepers will find the list of protected species even longer. Many boas and pythons commonly kept as pets in the UK, such as boa constrictors, reticulated pythons and the various tree boas, are all covered.
In terms of lizards a number of day geckos from Madagascar, some chameleons and also the larger monitor lizards also feature prominently in the list as do some of the more popular tortoise species such as leopard and radiated tortoises.
If in any doubt, it is a wise idea to consult the CITES website which lists all species currently affected by the legislation. Alternatively advice can be sought from DEFRA or a professional pet transportation service.
One final point worthy of mention is that the list of species covered by CITES changes on a regular basis, as do the rules surrounding the application process. It is essential therefore to regularly check the very latest rules surrounding the movement of CITES species long before you plan to travel.
In conclusion, despite the potential trouble (and cost) of staying firmly within the law, it is worth noting that CITES was signed into existence with the best of intentions. Anyone truly passionate about conservation – as well as their beloved pets – will hopefully appreciate the importance of the legislation, and will working within the guidelines to help protect highly endangered wildlife around the world.