Preparing for CITES Conference of the Parties

CoP17_Rhino_hpFrom September 24 – October 5, 2016, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will hold its 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP) in Johannesburg, South Africa.  At the CoP, Parties to the treaty will make decisions regarding the listing status of many species and requirements for international trade of wildlife. Only countries are Parties, while organizations like SCI and the SCI Foundation (collectively Safari Club) are observers.  The decisions made at the CoP will impact international trade, including the import and export of hunting trophies, of species around the world.

As observers, organizations and other non-Party participants like Safari Club will not be eligible to cast votes on decisions at CITES meetings, but they can participate in other ways to influence outcomes.  Specific issues are sometimes sent to smaller groups – known as Working Groups.  – Observers have a more equal voice to Parties in recommendations and document drafting within those groups.  Additionally, on the plenary floor of CITES meetings, observers can voice their opinions – in short speeches called interventions – regarding any issue.  Finally, observers can attempt to influence how Parties vote on issues by holding private meetings with country representatives or publishing issue papers and voting guides.


Safari Club will send a delegation of 10 members and staff to represent both organizations at the meeting.  SCI and the SCI Foundation are represented separately at meetings, providing two seats at the table to advance our combined interests.  Members of our delegation have attended numerous CoPs and other CITES meetings dating back to 1973, when the treaty was first written.  For others, this will be their first taste of the big show.  For all members, preparation for the meeting starts months in advance.  Safari Club will draft a voting guide, position papers, and a strategy document so that the delegation can effectively represent both organizations at the meeting.

Among the important issues that will be addressed at the CoP, Safari Club is particularly interested in the following:

  • African Lion
  • African Elephant
  • Hunting Trophies
  • Western and Eastern Tur
  • Secret Ballot Voting
  • Wood Bison
  • Rhinoceros
  • Puma
  • Cape Mountain Zebra

Over the course of the next several months leading up to the CoP, Safari Club staff and SCI CITES Committee members will write a series of articles that highlight some of these topics and explain the issues further.  Each article will be published in Crosshairs and on SCI Foundation’s First for Wildlife.

If you’d like to know more about CITES or Safari Club’s involvement in it, you can visit CITES’ website at or contact Jeremy Clare at  Otherwise, stay tuned to Crosshairs and the First for Wildlife blog for future articles.SCI Logo_picture fileTwice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more SCI Foundation news.


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