Rather than being taken directly from the wild, animals traded under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are increasingly sourced from facilities where such animals are produced in captivity - although sometimes the parents of the traded specimens are from the wild. During the early years of the Convention (1975-1989), 96 per cent of animals in international trade were taken from the wild. Since then, there has been a significant change and, today, international trade in animals is mainly in specimens from captive-produced sources. This trade includes reptiles for skins and birds and ornamental fish for pets.
While the drafters of the Convention did foresee, and provide provisions to cater for, trade in such animals, they viewed this modality as an exception. At the time, the underlying policy assumption was that production in captivity was likely to affect the survival of the species less than the removal of animals from the wild. The provisions in the Convention reflected this assumption.
As the proportion of trade in produced animals increased, a number of Resolutions and Decisions were adopted by the Parties to regulate and define the terms and conditions for such production and trade. But, to date, no single consistent and coherent framework exists.
The significant increase in trade in produced animals has given rise to some concerns related to the control of the production and trade, including false or incorrect declarations of the source of the animals.
Tools and resources
- Guidelines for inspection of captive-breeding and ranching facilities (2017) - also available in Chinese, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Malay, Thai and Vietnamese
- Guide to the application of CITES source codes (2017) - also available in Chinese, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Malay, Thai and Vietnamese
- CITES Factsheet (2016)
- Inspection manual for commercial reptile breeding facilities in SE Asia (2013)
- Manual for the differentiation of captive-produced and wild-caught turtles and tortoises (2018)
- Preliminary guidance on terms related to the artificial propagation of CITES regulated plants (2021)
- An assessment of the exception in paragraph 4 of Resolution Conf. 11.11 (Rev.CoP18) allowing specimens grown from wild collected seeds or spores to be deemed as artificially propagated
- Captive-bred and ranched specimens mobile and tablet application tool (CapaCITES) available in English, French, Spanish, Thai, Mandarin, Khmer, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Malay and Laotian
Resolutions / Decisions
- Resolution Conf. 17.7 (Rev. CoP19) Review of trade in animal specimens reported as produced in captivity
- Resolution Conf. 12.10 (Rev. CoP15) Registration of operations that breed Appendix-I animal species in captivity for commercial purposes
- Resolution Conf. 10.16 (Rev. CoP19) Specimens of animal species bred in captivity
- Decision 19.63 - 19.65 Review of Resolution Conf. 17.7 (Rev. CoP19) on Review of trade in specimens reported as produced in captivity
- Decision 19.181 Review of Resolution Conf. 12.10 (Rev. CoP15) on Registration of operations that breed Appendix-I animal species in captivity for commercial purposes
- Decisions 14.69 & 18.100 - 18.109 Asian big cats (Felidae spp.)
- Decisions 18.175 Captive-breeding of Sri Lankan agamids