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HSI Works to Stop Illegal Wildlife Trade in the Dominican Republic

Humane Society International

SANTO DOMINGO — As part of an ongoing effort to reduce illegal wildlife trade HSI is collaborating with the Dominican Republic Ministry of Environment with funds from the U.S. State Department to put on a two-day workshop on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, here March 31 – April 1. This training targets personnel working in the Haiti border area and the major ports of entry for tourists to increase technical knowledge on CITES and provide practical, hands-on skills for working with wildlife.

"Humane Society International first hosted a CITES workshop in the Dominican Republic two years ago, and we are enormously pleased with the progress that has been made and the willingness to continue to work towards a better future for their wildlife," said Marta Prado, executive director of International Trade and Development for HSI.

The workshop brings together more than 40 officials from the Ministry of Environment as well as customs personnel and local NGOs. The workshop highlights:

  • Techniques for identifying products from the hawksbill turtle. 
  • Information about the Hispaniola parrot trade.

For decades, the multi-billion dollar industry of illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products has been an ongoing concern across the globe, plundering mostly cash-poor, wildlife-rich developing countries and causing untold damage to the populations of numerous species. The Dominican Republic's population of hawksbill turtles has long been targeted by poachers for their beautiful and unique shell used to manufacture countless items, especially souvenirs for tourists.

"This national workshop on the application of CITES allows us to train those governmental officials involved in the application of the convention, particularly the individuals working in border areas and the primary ports of entry to the island, to continue our work in combating the illegal trade in species, especially hawksbill turtles," said Amarilis Polonia with the Ministry of Environment office.

CITES Facts:

  • Ever since it entered into force in 1975, CITES has been the only international agreement that regulates international trade in wild species.
  • 175 nations (parties) have signed and ratified the CITES treaty.
  • The Dominican Republic became a CITES Party in 1987. Only recently has the island's government adopted national legislation to implement CITES. The Dominican Republic is only now beginning to experience some success in halting the illegal domestic and tourist export trade in hawksbill turtle shell products. Hawksbill turtles are critically endangered and on CITES Appendix I, which includes all species threatened with extinction which are or may be affected by trade. International commercial trade in Appendix I species is prohibited.


Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at hsi.org.

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