The international trade in endangered animals and plants is regulated by a United Nations multilateral treaty, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It is an international agreement between world governments (Parties) and its role is to regulate trade and protect wildlife from overexploitation and extinction.
Every two to three years, CITES Parties meet during an international conference called the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to evaluate the protection levels given to different species. The main event at CoP are Appendix changes, where Parties discuss whether a species needs a higher or lower level of protection.
This year, the 19th CoP will be taking place in November in Panama.
The role of FOUR PAWS
CITES has huge implications on captive breeding and the commercial trade of big cats, two of the focus areas for FOUR PAWS.
For years, FOUR PAWS has been investigating the commercial trade of live big cats and their body parts and is campaigning to change legislation in key areas of the world – such as South Africa (the biggest global exporter of big cats and their parts) and Europe. Our findings suggest these countries are supplying the demand for big cat parts to be used illegally.
According to CITES, the existence of a legal trade contravenes CITES Decision 14.69, which states tigers cannot be commercially bred for trade in their parts. Both South Africa and Europe are a Party of CITES, yet both are in contravention of this Decision, by breeding and commercially trading Appendix I big cat species and are exporting large numbers of big cats to Asia.
FOUR PAWS Recommendations
4 suggestions to make CITES successful
Ioana Dungler – International Director of Wild Animal Department
Ioana has been employed at FOUR PAWS since 2000 and works today as the International Director of the Wild Animal Department. In this key role she supervises important international projects and campaigns, including FOUR PAWS big cat and bear sanctuaries, as well as the horse project and ORANGUTAN FOREST SCHOOL. She is board member of LIONSROCK Big Cats Sanctuary in South Africa, of FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary in the Netherlands, of TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary in Germany, the European Alliance of Rescue Centers and Sanctuaries (E.A.R.S.) as well as chairwoman of the Stitching Panthera in the Netherlands.
Kieran Harkin – Wildlife Trade Expert
Kieran has worked in the field of wildlife protection for 15 years in a career that has seen long spells in both Africa and Asia before now working from the UK. He currently works for FOUR PAWS in the role of a wildlife trade expert. In addition to his professional experience Kieran holds a BSc and MSc in Environmental Management and Ecology where he studied big cats and elephants in the wild.
Vanessa Amoroso – Head of Wild Animals in Trade
Vanessa has been employed at FOUR PAWS since September 2021 and has worked within the animal welfare sector for eleven years. She holds a BSc in Environmental Biology and a PGCert in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law. Vanessa currently oversees the design and delivery of the commercial big cat trade campaign in South Africa and European trade of Tigers. She also heads up the wildlife trade component of the Pandemics and Animal Welfare campaign.
Sarah Locke – Head of Programs, South Africa
Sarah has been the Head of Programs for FOUR PAWS in South Africa since 2020. She holds a BSc in Zoology and an MSc in Conservation Biology, during which, she undertook research into African elephants and big cats. She has seven years’ experience in campaigning, advocacy and research within the international wildlife and animal welfare sector and at FOUR PAWS, she co-leads the campaign to end the intensive farming and commercial trade of big cats from South Africa.
Ruxandra Catalina Cracea – Campaigner Wild Animals in Trade
Ruxandra has been employed at FOUR PAWS since 2019 and is currently a Campaigner for Wild Animals in Trade at FOUR PAWS. Ruxandra holds an MSc and BSc in Political and Communication Sciences and has worked on European and International policy for the last 10 years. In her current capacity, she leads the public-facing work of two trade-focused campaigns, working on issues such as the commercial trade of tigers in Europe and the commercial trade of big cats in South Africa.
Andrea Torrico Muñoz – Campaign Coordinator Wild Animals in Trade’
Andrea has been employed at FOUR PAWS since 2022 as Campaign Coordinator for the Wild Animals in Trade Unit. Prior to this position, she worked as a Legal intern at the CITES Secretariat as well as for several other wildlife conservation organizations. Andrea holds an LLB and an LLM in Public International Law, Environmental Law, and the Law of the Sea, and has worked in the field of wildlife crime for over 2 years. In her current role she supports Wild Animals Campaigns, particularly by leading the development of a report for the Pandemics and Animal Welfare campaign.