University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Understanding markets to conserve trade-threatened species in CITES

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 20:40 authored by Dan Challendar, Stuart Harrop, Douglas McMillan
International trade in wildlife is a major threat to biodiversity conservation. CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is the primary mechanism for maintaining sustainability in international wildlife trade. However, CITES has been criticised because it relies on regulatory measures but disregards the economic reality of wildlife trade. Through means of a case study on the trade in pangolins (Manis spp.) in Asia, we critically evaluate the CITES approach to controlling trade and demonstrate significant inadequacies to it. This is because it fails to accurately monitor supply, particularly where trade is illegal, it does little to consider the complex nature of demand for wildlife products or the impact of trade controls in realistic terms, and it does little to contend with changing market dynamics. To more effectively manage trade we argue that reforms are needed within CITES. Specifically, improved monitoring of supply (e.g., by accounting for illegal and legal trade) and monitoring of demand and prices for wildlife (e.g., through national wildlife consumption surveys) would enable the Convention to function from a more comprehensive understanding of wildlife trade. These data, integrated with the Convention’s existing trade database, would allow more realistic evaluation of trade controls, and could inform decision-making and the implementation of interventions which go beyond regulation and address demand directly. In a world of rapid economic and social change understanding markets and addressing demand as well as supply is essential to conserving the world’s trade threatened species. Keywords: CITES, demand, economics, markets, pangolin, wildlife trade


Publication status

  • Published


Biological Conservation







Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Law Publications

Research groups affiliated with

  • Sussex European Institute Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected