CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is a trade convention drawn up to ensure that the animal and plant life on our planet is used sustainably and conserved.



International initiatives for better protection of lions, cheetahs, wild dogs and leopards

The first meeting of the African Carnivore Initiative (ACI) in Bonn ended with the adoption of a joint statement with the following points:

  • The main factors that endanger these species are loss of habitat, loss of food resources, illegal killing for various reasons (conflicts with the local population, illegal national and international trade) as well as unsustainable trophy hunting.
  • Urgent measures are necessary to address the decline of all species in large parts of Africa. The countries where the four species are endemic are encouraged to address these threats actively, to draw up or renew action plans for all four species, to implement these plans and update them regularly.
  • The international community is requested to provide appropriate support for the countries where these species are endemic. To this end, various very specific recommendations have been drafted for consideration by the CITES and CMS Conferences of the Parties so that this can be achieved.
  • Continuation of the ACI was recommended in order to facilitate and follow up on all these planned and necessary additional activities. A work program will be formulated in order to coordinate and evaluate the activities of CITES and CMS during the next few years.

CITES and CMS expressed particular thanks to Switzerland and the IUCN Cat Specialist Group for their support.


CITES logo

It was realised long ago that excessive international trade was developing into a serious threat for many species. Against this background, the "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora" – CITES for short (also known as the Washington Convention) – came into being in 1973. Switzerland was one of the first signatories of this Convention. The CITES Secretariat is in Geneva. Today, more than 180 countries have already undertaken to work together through CITES to protect flora and fauna

CITES – regulated trade in protected plant and animal species

Endangered plant and animal species should only be traded to the extent permitted by their natural populations. Sustainable, regulated trade is often a more efficient form of protection than an absolute ban on trade. Under the CITES Convention, the term trade refers to any instance in which a border is crossed.

The export and import of live animals and plants, parts of them or products made from them is either illegal or requires a permit, depending on the extent of the threat to the species in question.

The CITES Appendices now list more than 5,000 species of animal and 28,000 plant species listed in (see "More information"). The species protected under CITES are divided into three protection categories, depending on the extent of the threat.

CITES Appendices

  • Appendix I: Species listed in Appendix I are in acute danger. Trade in these species is severely restricted or illegal (e.g. ivory, tortoiseshell products). Exceptions include prior acquisitions*, products that demonstrably originate from captive-bred animals and specimens for species-conservation programmes and research purposes.

  • The species listed in Appendices II and III of CITES might be threatened if trade in them were not controlled.

* Prior acquisitions: Specimens that were traded before the Convention came into effect for the species concerned (e.g. antiques containing ivory).

CITES and Switzerland

As the enforcement authority for CITES, the FSVO plays an important role in protecting and conserving animal and plant species and their habitats. Switzerland generally requires an import or export licence for specimens covered by CITES. These licences are issued by the FSVO. 

More information

Last modification 16.11.2018

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