CITES releases new report of animals in danger of extinction

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By Sam Siomko, Staff Writer

You have probably seen photos of the pangolin online while you were procrastinating on your five-page paper. This little mammal looks like the combination of an armadillo, an anteater and a basketball, and when it is scared, it rolls up into a ball. The scaly plates line along its body like armor.

It is those plates that get the pangolin into so much trouble, though, mostly from people who wish to hunt the animal for use in traditional medicine or fashion. The illegal pangolin trade plummeted all eight species of pangolins into endangerment, bringing them closer and closer to extinction.

That is where CITES comes in. CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an agreement between countries across the world that ensures the wild animal trade does not put species in danger of extinction. The convention was the brainchild of the IUCN, The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The need for CITES reflected the growing illegal trade of animals and plants for commercial or traditional use. Regulating this trade ensures that one species is not over-exploited, and the species will be around for future generations.

And it just so happens that CITES met this week (September 24 to October 5) for the seventeenth time to assess which specie require more protection. CITES categorizes species based on their level of endangerment: Appendix I lists species that are very much in danger of becoming extinct, and Appendix II lists species that are close to becoming endangered. This year, they listed the Devil Ray and Silky Shark on Appendix II. As for Appendix I, they decided to list the African Grey Parrot, one of the most trafficked birds in the world, and of course, all eight species of the pangolin.

Listings on Appendix I makes the species especially difficult to get across borders. This includes extensive legal action if the species is transported or sold illegally. It is unfortunate that any animal could be harvested so extensively that its survival is threatened, but these listings are a huge step forward in the protection of all species involved. As more and more species become threatened by climate change and other human-made influences, organizations like CITES will continue to work to make sure that animals like the pangolin will survive.

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