The world will soon gather for the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP18), which will take place Aug. 17-28 in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting was originally scheduled for Sri Lanka in May, but was moved to Geneva and postponed due to the terrorist attacks in Colombo. 

The meeting will result in major decisions—on a global scale—on a large number of species subject to international trade, including many that are subject to poaching and trafficking.

WCS is a strong supporter of CITES, and has staff who have attended all meetings of the Conference of the Parties since CoP7 in 1989. WCS will be represented by many international wildlife and policy experts at CoP18. WCS staff at the CoP are from: WCS Headquarters in the US, and WCS offices in Belgium, Republic of Congo, Peru, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Mozambique, and possibly Mongolia

The head of the WCS delegation to the meeting, Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS Vice President of International Policy and a CITES and wildlife trade expert, is available for comment/interview in advance and during the meeting and can be reached at, or text through WhatsApp: +1 (240) 779-5045. Interviews can also be arranged through Mary Dixon, WCS Senior Vice President of Communications:; or text through WhatsApp: +1-347-840-1242

Our position statements on proposals and documents (in English, French, and Spanish) can be found at, along with fact sheets on the saiga antelope and our work on wildlife trafficking.  Some highlights are below:

Saiga (Saiga tatarica): This strange antelope found across Asia’s eastern steppes is subject to wild population fluctuations due to periodic disease outbreaks and poaching. Illegal trade for traditional medicine is putting the species in greater peril. WCS is calling for the saiga to be moved to Appendix I (a proposal from Mongolia and the US), which would ban all international commercial trade. There is strong opposition.

Mako sharks, Wedgefish and Guitarfish (Isarus sp, Rhinobatidae sp, Rhinidae, sp): Makos are the cheetahs of the shark world, reaching speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour and migrating across the high seas. Wedgefish and guitarfish are close relatives to sharks. All are threatened by unsustainable global trade of their fins and meat. Most of this trade is unregulated. WCS is recommending that all of these sharks are included on CITES Appendix II.

Weird, Wild and Wonderful: From pancake tortoises (Malacochersus tornieri), to glass frogs (Centrolenidae sp), to sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea), these less glamorous species—all of which are subject to increasing, often illegal, trade—need to receive greater protection under CITES. WCS is advocating that pancake tortoises, which are being highly exploited for the pet trade receive Appendix I protection; and that glass frogs and sea cucumbers be listed on Appendix II to ensure that trade is regulated and sustainable.

Other proposals that WCS strongly supports are proposals to include giraffes in Appendix II, and to move to Appendix I Asian otters and the Indian star tortoise. Giraffes are declining due to multiple threats, including increasing international trade.

In addition, WCS is also urging Parties to reject proposals from Eswatini, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe that would allow for international commercial trade in rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory. WCS will also be discussing improving enforcement for jaguars, helmeted hornbill, tigers, and many other species.

WCS’s ‘on-the-ground’ presence across much of the globe enables us to address multiple aspects of wildlife exploitation and trade, including wildlife crime, at all points along the trade chain in source, transit and consumer countries.

WCS field research and related conservation efforts support the design and implementation of science-based conservation and management strategies that will not only conserve and protect species but also enhance sustainability in the exploitation of species while improving benefits to local communities and economies from sustainable use regimes, when relevant and appropriate.

WCS views on the proposals to amend the Appendices are based on the CITES listing criteria, the best available scientific and technical information, and information from our field and country programs around the world. WCS looks forward to working with the Parties during CoP18.