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May 5, 2009

HSI Works to Stop Illegal Wildlife Trade

Law Enforcement Attend Training This Week in El Salvador and Guatemala

Humane Society International

JUTIAPA, Guatemala — As part of an ongoing effort to reduce illegal wildlife trade, Humane Society International, with funds from the U.S. State Department, is collaborating with governmental authorities from El Salvador and Guatemala to put on a two-day workshop May 6-7 in Jutiapa.

The training is for environmental police and customs agents working along the El Salvadoran-Guatemalan border to increase technical knowledge on CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and to provide them with practical, hands-on skills for working with wildlife.

The illegal trade in wildlife is particularly rampant in border areas, where wildlife is extracted from natural protected areas and then smuggled into other countries. As a result, it is essential to provide all levels of enforcement personnel working in the border areas with the proper training. Workshop topics include:

  • Application of CITES in respective countries
  • Cross-border coordination and collaboration
  • Basic confiscated wildlife handling techniques
  • Introduction to wildlife rescue centers in El Salvador and Guatemala

"This binational workshop allows us to train those governmental officials involved in the application of the Convention, particularly the individuals working in border areas, to continue working to combat the illegal trade in species, especially green iguanas, leatherback turtles and scarlet macaws," said Tracy O'Toole, director of wildlife development programs for HSI's International Trade and Development Department.

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.
  •  Guatemala became a CITES Party in 1979 and El Salvador became a CITES Party in 1987. Only recently has El Salvador made substantial efforts to implement the necessary national legislation to properly enforce CITES. El Salvador has recently seen great strides in outlawing turtle egg consumption at a national level.  This will greatly benefit Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green Turtles, all of which are CITES Appendix I (includes all species threatened with extinction which are or may be affected by trade). International commercial trade in Appendix I species is prohibited.

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Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide— On the web at hsi.org.

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