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Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species CITES The International wildlife trade worth billions of dollars annually has caused massive declines in the numbers of many species of animals and plants The extent of the decline because of the trade aroused so much concern for the survival of species that an international treaty was drawn up in 1973 to protect wildlife against over-exploitation and also to prevent international trade from threatening species with extinction Known as CITES and sometimes known as the Washington Convention the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora came into force on 1 July 1975 and at present has a membership of signatories of around 150 countries These countries act by banning commercial international trade in an agreed list of endangered species and by regulating and monitoring trade in others that might become endangered There of over 13000 known species mammals and birds as well as thousands of reptiles amphibians and fish millions of invertebrates and some 250000 flowering plants It is fair to say that extinction is a natural feature of the evolution of life on Earth However in recent times humans have to a large extent been responsible for the loss of most of the animals and plants that have disappeared Many species are declining in number basically because of a loss of habitat and increased exploitation as the human population grows Trade has also become a major factor in the decline as improvement in transport facilities has made it possible to ship live animals and plants and their products anywhere in the world The wildlife trade is a highly lucrative business and involves a wide variety of species not only as live specimens but also as products Millions of animals and plants are traded each year to supply the demand for pets and ornamental plants Furskins leather and timber and articles manufactured from these materials are all
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