Center for Conservation Biology

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

Group of adult elephants surrounding baby elephant

African elephants.© Karl Ammann - http://karlammann.com

Tanzania and Zambia are petitioning the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to “downlist” the conservation status of their elephants to allow sale of stockpiled ivory. But just 2 years after CITES placed a 9-year moratorium on future ivory sales (1), elephant poaching is on the rise. The petitioning countries are major sources and conduits of Africa’s illegal ivory (2–4). The petitions highlight the controversy surrounding ivory trade (5) and broader issues underlying CITES trade decisions.