Disposal of illegally traded and confiscated specimens

Destruction of confiscated ivory in Kenya, April 2016

The disposal of illegally traded and confiscated specimens of CITES-listed species is becoming increasingly important as many Parties step up their efforts and more specimens are confiscated. According to Article VIII of the Convention, Parties shall take appropriate measures inter alia “to provide for the confiscation or return to the State of export of such specimens.” In the case of confiscation of live specimens, the Convention requires Parties to take measures to ensure that the specimen is returned to the State of export or placed in a designated rescue centre.

At its 17th meeting (CoP17, Johannesburg, 2016), the Conference of the Parties adopted Resolution Conf. 17.8 on Disposal of illegally traded and confiscated specimens of CITES-listed species.  The Resolution contains recommendations to Parties on available disposal options of live and dead specimens. Annexes 1 and 2 to the Resolution provide guidelines for the disposal of confiscated live animals and plants, respectively, while Annex 3 contains guidelines for the development of an action plan on seized and/or confiscated live specimens.

Provisions of the Convention

Resolutions / Decisions

Tools and Resources


At CoP18, the Parties adopted Decisions 18.159-18.164 directing inter alia the Secretariat to collect information on existing networks and resources on the management of seized and confiscated live animals and make it available to Parties. The collection is ongoing. If you have relevant information you would like to share, please contact the Secretariat.
If you have a specific question on the disposal of confiscated specimens of CITES-listed species, please contact the CITES Secretariat.  

Detailed recommendation with regard to confiscated specimens other than live animals and plants

Regarding the disposal of confiscated and accumulated dead specimens

The Conference of the Parties to the Convention RECOMMENDS that:

a) Parties dispose of confiscated and accumulated dead specimens of Appendix-I species, including parts and derivatives, only for bona fide scientific, educational, enforcement or identification purposes, and save in storage or destroy specimens whose disposal for these purposes is not practicable; and

b) as a general rule, confiscated dead specimens, including parts and derivatives, of Appendix-II and Appendix-III species be disposed of in the best manner possible to achieve the purposes of the Convention, and steps be taken to ensure that the person responsible for the offence does not receive financial or other gain from the disposal and that such disposal does not stimulate further illegal trade.