Enforcement - Introduction

Wildlife” means all fauna and flora. CITES addresses both legal and illegal trade. For domestic or international trade in wildlife to be described as illegal it must contravene either to domestic or international law (or both). Over the past decade we have experienced a surge in illegal wildlife trade with transnational organized groups targeting high-value wildlife. These criminals are targeting wildlife because there is a demand for various wildlife products and they have been able to make high profits at a relatively low risk. This profit to risk equation is changing through the adoption of stronger laws and better enforcement, demand reduction strategies, engaging with local communities and the private sector, and through the deployment of modern technology.

The best available information on the scale of wildlife crime can be found in the first World Wildlife Crime Report published in 2016. At its 17th meeting, the Conference of the Parties adopted Resolution 11.17 (Rev. CoP17) which urges Parties to submit an annual illegal trade report to the Secretariat starting in 2017. The information collected through those reports will be used in ICCWC global research and analysis studies on wildlife and forest crime (Resolution 11.3 (Rev. CoP17)). 

How do I report instances of illegal wildlife trade?

Provisions of the Convention

Resolutions / Decisions

Reports and Notifications by the CITES Secretariat

  • SC69 doc.31.1 on Enforcement matters
  • No. 2015/040 (issued 03/07/2015) on  Directory of law enforcement focal points
  • No. 2015/039 (issued 25/06/2015) on Integration of the CITES Enforcement authorities Forum with WCO’s ENVIRONET
  • No. 2004/078 (issued 09/12/2004) on Submission of enforcement-related information by the public and non-governmental organizations to the CITES Secretariat

Tools and Resources

How do I report instances of illegal wildlife trade?

The Secretariat plays a role in supporting the work to combat illegal trade. In cases where the Secretariat is thought to be the most suitable recipient for such information, Notification 2004/078 provides guidance on how to submit such information to the Secretariat. However, the Secretariat is not a law enforcement authority and do not conduct investigations at national level. The mandate and responsibility to investigate alleged criminal activity within any country lies with the relevant national law enforcement authorities of that country.  Members of the public and non-governmental organizations who may wish to report information regarding illegal trade in specimens of CITES-listed species should contact the relevant national law enforcement agencies in the country (or countries) where the illegal trade is taking place. Contact details for national Management and Enforcement Authorities can be found here.

Directory of enforcement national focal points