Navigating transport of live animals and plants: CITES online workshop shares best practices, regulations and guidelines

Updated on 06 April 2024


Geneva, 28 March 2024 — Transporting live animals and plants across borders for trade requires navigating a complex system of international regulations and meticulous logistics – from designing species-appropriate containers to taking safe biosecurity measures. To ensure effective regulatory compliance and sustainable transport practices, it is crucial to raise awareness among all stakeholders involved in the transport of live specimens on regulation updates, best practices, and emerging technologies. 

© Tristan Bradfield / City of London UK

On 21 March 2024, the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in consultation with the CITES Standing Committee and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), organized the Online Workshop on Transport of Live Specimens. This closed online workshop brought together over 180 participants, including representatives from CITES Management Authorities, enforcement focal points, importers, exporters, non-governmental organizations and transporters.

The objective of the workshop was to share best practices related to live animal and plant transport and to further the effective use by Parties of the IATA Live Animal Regulations (LAR), IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations (PCR), as well as the CITES Guidelines for the Non-Air Transport of Live Wild Animals and Plants. Accessibility to the LAR and PCR remains a challenge for many CITES Parties, especially from the developing countries.

CITES Secretary-General Ms. Ivonne Higuero said: “The full and effective use of the transport regulations is critical to ensure international trade in live specimens of wildlife is done in a manner that minimize risk of injury, damage to heath or cruel treatment. The CITES Secretariat is pleased to organize this first-ever workshop on this topic and facilitate access to the collective wealth of expertise and best practices contributed by our partners in this arena.

Mr. Mathias Lörtscher, Chair of the CITES Animals Committee and moderator of the first segment, said: “We have seen several great examples of best practices presented during this comprehensive workshop. It is encouraging to see the progress made in making the LAR and PCR more easily available to CITES Parties and other stakeholders. Many Parties to the Convention will now have access to more information to support them in making sure the transport of live CITES listed animals and plants complies with what is required by the regulations." 

© Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

The workshop covered eight sessions featuring presentations by experts from across the globe followed by question-and-answer sections.

In Session 1, Ms. Gabriella Tamasi from the Live Animals and Perishables Board at IATA shed light on understanding and complying with IATA LAR and IATA PCR regulations. Andreas Kaufmann from GO WILD delved into CITES guidelines for non-air transport, while Sonia Ben Hamida from the IATA Secretariat discussed the process for amending and revising current methods in IATA LAR.

The discussion then shifted towards understanding the principles of live animal container design in Session 2, led by Mr. Frank Kohn from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Carmen Medina from the Ministry of Environment in Panama. 

Closing out the first segment with Session 3, Mr. Tristan Bradfield from the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre emphasized the importance of reception and contingency planning at entry points. Ms. Susie Pritchard of Animal Health and Welfare (United Kingdom) and Ms. Petrina Teo of the Singapore National Parks Board (NParks) elaborated on husbandry, veterinary, and disposition provisions for confiscated wildlife, while Mr. Thomas Deleuil from the CITES Secretariat discussed seizure and confiscation protocols.

After a brief break, the second segment of the workshop was moderated by CITES Secretariat Chief of Outreach and Projects Unit, Ms. Haruko Okusu. Session 4 featured Ms. Laura Diprizio from the USFWS who addressed the immediate triage of sick or injured live specimens, followed by discussions on temporary holding of wildlife before and after transport led by Ms. Loïs Lelanchon of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Ms. Mercy Koomson of the Forestry Commission of Ghana.

In Session 5, Mr. Kevin Torregrosa from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) tackled the crucial topic of biosecurity in the transportation of live specimens. After which in Session 6, Mr. Leopoldo Stuardo of the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) and Mr. Basil Von Ah of Zoo Zürich highlighted the significance of recognizing high welfare-risk detentions.

Representing the Botanic Gardens Conservation International for Session 7, Ms. Carly Cowell addressed the challenges and best practices in transport of wild and artificially-propagated flora.

The workshop concluded with Session 8, during with discussions on the accessibility of IATA LAR and IATA PCR were led by Mr. Tahir Hasnain from the IATA Secretariat.

Mandated by CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP) Decision 19.158, the workshop fostered dialogue for enhancing understanding, and formulating strategies to tackle the challenges associated with the transport of live specimens. With the insights gained from this workshop, stakeholders aim to bolster conservation efforts and ensure the safe and ethical transport of wildlife across the globe.

The workshop recording is available to watch online here.

For questions about this workshop, please contact Mr. Salehin Khan ([email protected])  


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About CITES 

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed on 3 March 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975. With 184 Parties (183 countries + the European Union), it remains one of the world's most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of international trade in over 40,900 species of wild animals and plants. CITES-listed species are used by people around the world in their daily lives for food, health care, furniture, housing, tourist souvenirs, cosmetics or fashion. CITES seeks to ensure that international trade in such species is sustainable, legal and traceable and contributes to both the livelihoods of the communities that live closest to them and to national economies for a healthy planet and the prosperity of the people in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

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