The CITES provisions assist member countries to regulate international commercial trade in live as well as parts and derivatives of fauna and flora. Member countries regulate this trade using a system of permits and certificates which are issued in accordance with the decisions and resolutions taken at the Conference of the Parties which is held, on average, every two years.
The trade in wild animals and plants is a major threat to the survival of certain species. The contracting Parties therefore recognise that international co-operation is essential for the protection of certain species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation for international trade.
The international trade in wildlife is estimated to have an annual worth of billions of US $ and to involve more than 350 million plants and animals every year. Along with the loss of habitat and increased local exploitation of wildlife resources, unregulated international trade can pose a major threat to the survival of threatened and endangered species.
The Convention accords varying degrees of protection to wild animal and plant species depending on their biological status and the effect international trade has or could have on them.
The species included in this appendix are those which are in danger of extinction and that may be negatively affected by trade. Such species cannot be traded among member countries except under exceptional circumstances such as for scientific purposes. Export and import permits are required for such trade and Appendix I specimens cannot be traded for commercial purposes.
Included in Appendix I are all the great apes, rhinos, sea turtles, great whales, giant pandas, Asian and African elephants, most of the large cats and some small cats, primates, raptors, parrots, lizards, crocodiles, orchids and cacti.
This Appendix includes species which are not necessarily currently threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is strictly regulated so as to ensure sustainability.
Appendix II also contains so called look-alike species, which due to their similarity in appearance to certain regulated species, must be managed so as to ensure effective control.
Appendix II includes the species of the following taxa which are not already on Appendix I - some populations of African Elephants, primates, cats, otters, whales, raptors tortoises, crocodiles, and orchids.
This appendix contains species that are subject to regulation within the jurisdiction of a party and for which the co-operation of other parties is needed to prevent or restrict their exploitation.