Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Study Uncovers Major Inaccuracies In Global Wildlife Trade Monitoring

Date:
November 4, 2005
Source:
Conservation International
Summary:
A new study by scientists from Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund shows that in some cases, the figures for trade recorded under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) vary wildly from records kept by the U.S. Customs Service. Their findings indicate the system for tracking endangered wildlife is failing to properly register the actual numbers of plants and animals involved.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is supposed to help governments conserve endangered species by regulating the international sale and transport of wildlife.

Related Articles


However, a new study by scientists from Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund shows that in some cases, the figures for trade recorded by CITES vary wildly from records kept by the U.S. Customs Service. Their findings indicate the U.S. system for tracking endangered wildlife is failing to properly register the actual numbers of plants and animals involved.

According to the study, published in the journal Conservation Biology, the CITES and U.S. Customs figures for imports and exports of certain species should be the same, but vary by as much as 5,200 percent. In all cases studied, CITES and Customs reported substantially different trade volumes for all species.

"To solve any problem, it's important to understand the problem first. Our findings suggest that we don't know as much as we must about the international wildlife trade to conserve endangered species," said Art Blundell, the study's lead author and Center for Applied Biodiversity Science fellow at Conservation International.

The study represents a groundbreaking new dimension to the debate over the regulation and trade of endangered species. Such widely divergent data suggest widespread inaccuracies in recordkeeping, and without accurate information, sound policy and financial allocation decisions become problematic, making conservation less effective.

"Scientists have long recognized that targeted exploitation of wildlife for international trade is an important cause of biodiversity loss. The question has always been 'how important?' Our findings suggest that the international wildlife trade may be a bigger threat than we've generally thought," said Mike Mascia, senior social scientist with the WWF's Conservation Science Program and the study's co-author.

Although Customs and CITES do not collect data for the purpose of direct comparison, Blundell and Mascia identified five sets of species -- conch, caviar, live coral, cultivated ginseng, and mahogany -- in which the two monitoring systems measured trade in similar categories, making valid comparisons possible. The five groups analyzed represent more than 2,000 species, or 6 percent of the approximately 33,600 species currently under CITES regulation.

The study identified several factors contributing to the widespread discrepancies between Customs and CITES data. Smuggling is one known cause. Also problematic are pervasive and often random recording errors, such as typographic mistakes, data entries that lack measurement units [e.g., kilograms, tons, etc.], and miscategorization of shipments. The authors find the diverging figures troubling because of the United States' standing as the world's largest consumer of endangered species.

The research also showed that the differing figures kept by CITES and U.S. Customs followed no pattern. In some cases, CITES recorded more trade of a certain wildlife group than U.S. Customs, while for others, the situation was reversed.

Fortunately, solutions are possible. To increase precision and reduce smuggling, the authors suggest that agencies should use the same categories for recording wildlife trade and should share information more rapidly; they should be better trained; and wherever possible, the systems should be automated. .

"As the U.S. government agency responsible for CITES, the Fish and Wildlife Service should be given the resources it needs to track the wildlife trade properly," Blundell said. "Accurate wildlife trade monitoring will require creative thinking by all parties -- especially government agencies, conservation organizations, and wildlife traders in the U.S. and abroad."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Conservation International. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Conservation International. "New Study Uncovers Major Inaccuracies In Global Wildlife Trade Monitoring." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051104085131.htm>.
Conservation International. (2005, November 4). New Study Uncovers Major Inaccuracies In Global Wildlife Trade Monitoring. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051104085131.htm
Conservation International. "New Study Uncovers Major Inaccuracies In Global Wildlife Trade Monitoring." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051104085131.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins