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HSI Promotes International Cooperation to Fight Illegal Wildlife Trade in Central America

Humane Society International

PETÉN, Guatemala — In order to strengthen cooperation and improve implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, in Central America, Humane Society International is sponsoring a weeklong multinational workshop in Petén, Guatemala, Sept. 28 – Oct. 2.

The workshop, hosted by the Asociación de Rescate y Conservación de Vida Silvestre (Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association), will gather 16 government representatives working in border areas and rescue center personnel from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador. The workshop will focus on the following topics:

  • CITES implementation requirements
  • Identification of endangered species
  • Handling of confiscated animals

With funding granted by the U.S Department of State as part of  environmental cooperation under the Dominican Republic-Central American-United States Free Trade Agreement, HSI has worked with national governments and nongovernmental organizations in Central America since 2003 to help improve the enforcement and implementation of CITES as well as related domestic legislation, and to preserve native wildlife.

For decades, the multibillion dollar industry of illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products has been an ongoing concern across the globe, plundering the resources of mostly cash-poor, wildlife-rich developing countries and causing untold damage to the populations of numerous species. Illegal wildlife trade in Central America is prevalent in border areas where wildlife is extracted from natural protected areas and then smuggled into other countries.

"Both rescue center staff and government officials are crucial to the implementation of CITES," said Marta Prado, executive director of International Trade and Development for HSI, "and by bringing people together from across the region, we hope to foster a level of cooperation in CITES implementation that will have a long-lasting impact."

Facts:

  • Since entering into force in 1975, CITES has been the only international agreement that regulates international trade in wild species.
  • Between 1975 and 1987, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador became CITES parties. The treaty has been signed and ratified by 175 nations (parties).
  • Nearly 5,000 species of animals are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade.
  • It is estimated that illegal wildlife trade generates more than $10 billion annually, third behind only illegal drug and arms trades.
  • Central America is part of the Mesoamerican Biodiversity hotspot, home to 7 percent of the world's biodiversity, which includes several animal species endemic to the region.  

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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.