BornFree Successes at CITES 2019
From Animal Rights/Vegan Activist Strategies Articles Archive

August 2019

Born Free helped secure a number of important victories at CITES 2019 including enhanced protections for African elephants, giraffes, otter species, and marine life!

CITES 2019 animals

This week, I had the honor of being part of the Born Free USA team at the CITES Conference of Parties (CoP) in Geneva, Switzerland. This conference aims to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten species' survival. Proposals were debated for a wide variety of species, from elephants to sea cucumbers, offering various levels of protection depending on the severity of threats and data available.

I am very happy to report that we helped secure a number of important victories, including enhanced protections for African elephants, giraffes, otter species, and marine life!

African Elephants

Several Proposals at CITES centered around elephants, including two Proposals that would have weakened protections for this iconic species, which were soundly rejected. Countries voted successfully to tighten restrictions on the trade in wild baby elephants captured in Zimbabwe and Botswana and sent to foreign captive facilities, a major victory that will cut back significantly on the number of baby elephants sent to overseas zoos!


The population of this emblematic African species has decreased from about 157,000 individuals in 1985 to about 97,500 in 2015. While it will not stop the trade of the giraffe and its parts and products, the decision to list giraffes in CITES Appendix II will improve their conservation as it will enable the CITES community to monitor international trade in a way that will ensure that the trade in this species will not reduce the wild population to a level at which its survival might be threatened by trade or other threats.


Two species of otter – the small-clawed otter and the smooth-coated otter – will receive greater protection after decisions made this week. These species are some of many that are threatened by their “cuteness,” with social media driving the exotic pet trade in these animals. These actions mean that all international commercial trade in these species would be prohibited and will enable better conservation of these two species.

Marine Life

Government officials voted in favor of granting several marine species, including mako sharks, guitarfishes, and wedgefishes, increased management and trade observation by officially listing them in CITES Appendix II. While these listings will not prohibit commercial trade, they will ensure that such trade is legal and sustainable and that the species are not driven further towards extinction.

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