Protection applications are on the table for sharks, glass frogs and hippos, as well as for elephants and orchids: in Panama on Monday (local time) representatives from 184 countries with often conflicting interests started the Cites species protection conference, which is intended to protect free-living species from overexploitation by international trade .

At the opening, a call was made to involve local communities, young people and women more in the effort. In addition, the burden of financing should not be left solely to the countries in which the wild species live, said Cites Secretary General Ivonne Higuero. The debates about the protection of marine animals should start on Tuesday.

“The benefits of wildlife conservation are global, but the costs are borne locally,” Higuero said. You have to act innovatively and open up new sources of financing, including private ones. Much is at stake at the conference – and not only for future generations, but also in the coming months and years. According to Higuero, overexploitation and illegal trade affect ecosystems and biodiversity.

Securing Sustainable Trade

More than 2500 delegates, experts and representatives of non-governmental organizations will attend the meeting until November 25th. Cites is a convention signed in Washington in 1973 to ensure sustainable trade in wild animals and plants. The contracting states meet every three years. In Panama, 52 proposals for better protection of 600 wild species are to be discussed.

“The Cites conference starts at the peak of the species crisis. Since 1970, the populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles observed have declined by an average of 69 percent,” said Rebecca Gerigk, spokeswoman for WWF Germany in Panama. “That’s why we urgently need decisions at the conference on how to better protect species from overexploitation.” The implementation of trade regulations must also be improved.

Daniela Freyer, who is taking part in the Cites conference for the animal protection organization Pro Wildlife, is confident that good results can be achieved in Panama: “I definitely think there will be progress because most of the issues that are being discussed are being discussed , it’s about better protection of species.”

Trade in 38,000 species including their products is already banned or strictly regulated under Cites. However, many wild species continue to be traded illegally, including for the manufacture of ivory carvings, supposed delicacies made from shark fins, medicines made from ground rhino horn and tiger skin carpets.