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Protecting the Brilliant Psychedelic Rock Gecko

It’s got orange feet and an orange tail; a blue-grey body; and a lime green head. The psychedelic rock gecko, a small reptile native to only one island smalls off the coast of southern Vietnam, is endangered. It was only described for the first time in scientific literature in 2010, but it has already made…

Sharks and Rays Get New International Protections from Trade

Check out the story of how silky sharks, thresher sharks, and devil rays got new protections at CITES, as told through the social media posts of experts. [View the story “Sharks and Rays Get New Protections from Trade” on Storify]

A Big Day at CITES: No Ivory or Rhino Horn Trade

Today’s the day everyone at CITES CoP17 has been waiting for: elephants and rhinos. The debates were long, heated, and emotional. Here’s what happened: Elephants There were three proposals on the table. Two from Namibia and Zimbabwe proposed re-opening the ivory trade, and a third, from a coalition of African countries did the opposite—it wanted…

EU Fails to Lend Necessary Support to the African Elephant Coalition

By Katarzyna Nowak and Keith Lindsay The European Union (EU) – a regional economic integration organization of 28 member states – became the 181st party to the major wildlife treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in July 2015. This month became the first time the EU votes…

How Forensic Technology Can Help Fight the Ivory Trade

Here at the CITES conference in Johannesburg, almost anyone can tell you that African elephants are being slaughtered at a rate of tens of thousands per year. There are lots of approaches on how to solve the problem: reducing demand for ivory, providing alternative livelihoods for would-be poachers, training anti-poaching units—and forensics.

Sam Wasser of the University of Washington uses DNA testing to identify where the ivory confiscated in major seizures comes from. This makes it easier to know where law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts should be concentrated.

Cracking Down on the Pet Cheetah Trade

Cheetahs on cars. Cheetahs in boats. Cheetahs in mansions. The growing cheetah pet trade, spurred on by social media posts of wealthy owners posing in photos with their exotic pets, has gained the attention of the international community. Cheetahs face major threats from habitat loss and fragmentation, but the exotic pet trade in the last…

Artist Uses Body Paint to Transform Three Women Into Elephant

Italian artist Johannes Stoetter is famous for using body paint to transform humans into animals. Here at CITES, he teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about the decline of elephants with a new work, “Coming Together for Elephants.” Can you spot the three women in the elephant? “While a canvas lasts…

Process for Establishing Future Ivory Trade Rejected at CITES Conference

For the last nine years, CITES parties have been negotiating a “decision-making mechanism,” (DMM), which would establish a process for a future trade in ivory. Today, the parties of CITES voted to end the long-running discussion.

New Elephant Estimate Documents Major Decline

The International Union for Conservation of Nature released its 2016 African Elephant Status Report this morning, and the results are sobering: Africa has approximately 415,000 elephants, a net decline of more than 110,000 from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2015.