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Thirty-six years of legal and illegal wildlife trade entering the USA

  • Maria Therese Bager Olsen (a1), Jonas Geldmann (a1), Mike Harfoot (a2), Derek P. Tittensor (a2), Becky Price (a2), Pablo Sinovas (a3), Katarzyna Nowak (a4), Nathan J. Sanders (a1) and Neil D. Burgess (a1)...

Abstract

The USA is the largest consumer of legally, internationally-traded wildlife. A proportion of this trade consists of species listed in the Appendices of CITES, and recorded in the CITES Trade Database. Using this resource, we quantified wildlife entering the USA for 82 of the most frequently recorded wildlife products and a range of taxonomic groups during 1979–2014. We examined trends in legal trade and seizures of illegally traded items over time, and relationships between trade and four national measures of biodiversity. We found that: (1) there is an overall positive relationship between legal imports and seizures; (2) Asia was the main region exporting CITES-listed wildlife products to the USA; (3) bears, crocodilians and other mammals (i.e. other than Ursidae, Felidae, Cetacea, Proboscidea, Primates or Rhinocerotidae) increased in both reported legal trade and seizures over time; (4) legal trade in live specimens was reported to be primarily from captive-produced, artificially-propagated or ranched sources, whereas traded meat was primarily wild sourced; (5) both seizures and legally traded items of felids and elephants decreased over time; and (6) volumes of both legally traded and seized species were correlated with four attributes of exporting countries: species endemism, species richness, number of IUCN threatened species, and country size. The goal of our analysis was to inform CITES decision-making and species conservation efforts.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

(Corresponding author) E-mail mariabagerolsen@gmail.com

Footnotes

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*

Also at: Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

Also at: Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington, USA

Also at: UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK

§

Also at: Department of Biology, Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Also at: The Safina Center, Setauket, USA

Supplementary material for this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605319000541

Footnotes

References

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