Giraffes, elephants and other animals win big at global wildlife trade conference

By on August 28, 2019 with 75 Comments

The world’s largest wildlife trade conference has just wrapped up in Geneva and as our own Humane Society International team returns home, we are celebrating big wins for 135 wild animal species, including the giraffe, African elephant and southern white rhino.

Delegates at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted overwhelmingly to protect giraffes from overexploitation in the international trade. This is the first time that giraffes have received such protections, and it couldn’t have happened sooner. Giraffe populations have declined around 40% in the last 30 years and the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International have been fighting stateside and internationally to protect these beautiful animals.

Countries also took action at CITES to limit the capture of wild African elephants from Botswana and Zimbabwe for export to zoos. This cruel trade causes immense suffering for the animals and Zimbabwe alone has, since 2012, exported a total of 108 elephants to zoos overseas. Conservationist, Dr Jane Goodall issued a statement of concern, and celebrities, including Joanna Lumley, Ricky Gervais, Judi Dench, Pamela Anderson and others submitted an open letter to European Union officials, calling on them not to oppose the proposal. In the end the proposal did succeed despite the fact that the United States voted against it.

Delegates also rejected multiple dangerous proposals to open up the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn. A poaching crisis has beset both species and allowing such trade would have undermined ongoing global efforts to reduce a demand for their body parts, created enforcement problems, and further imperiled these iconic animals.

CITES delegates also recognized the overexploitation of wildlife for the pet trade as a priority concern, and took action to prohibit international commercial trade in Asian small-clawed otters and smooth-coated otters. These two semi-aquatic species are highly sought after for the pet trade, especially for “otter cafés” in Japan where customers get a chance to hold and pet the furry animals and pose for photos. Investigations have shown that the animals suffer immensely in these situations.

International commercial trade in Indian star tortoises, sought after as pets in China and Thailand, was also prohibited. The illegal trade in these small and pretty tortoises has rocketed over the past few years and they are now the most common tortoise species seized in the illegal wildlife trade.

Country delegates at Geneva also voted to protect mako sharks, giant guitarfish, wedgefish and sea cucumbers — all species negatively impacted by the international wildlife trade.

Our HSI team was in the great assembly hall pushing for these positive changes and we are proud that our hard work helped secure these victories for animals. The 183 member countries of CITES meet every three years to vote on proposals and given how rapidly some species are declining, it is imperative that countries act sooner rather than later to protect animals especially at risk.

Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Dobi Dobroslawa says:

    Fantastic news! Thank you so much for all of your hard work Humane Society! Please continue your fight and to be an advocate for these animals!

  2. Patricia Simon says:

    Best news ever! Thank you HSI for all the wonderful work that you do to protect these precious animals.

  3. Faith RUSSELL says:

    I am SO uplifted by this news. Thank you for all your efforts.

  4. John Wissinger says:

    Goes to show that the U.S. representatives don’t have the brains God gave a pissant

  5. Lydia says:

    Ayuda por favor

  6. Lydia says:


  7. Brian Bunn says:

    Fantastic news 👍 Well done, appreciated by animal lovers so much.

  8. Howard Pugh says:

    This is definitely great news and shows that we are standing up and taking notice of the damage being done to our fragile planet. Well done!

  9. Christine Sanderson says:

    Brilliant work fantastic news please keep up the good work you do a advocate for our furry friends

  10. Elizabeth Heptinstall says:

    Excellent news! I’m really impressed at the progress made-well done HSI and other advocates! Is there any plan to protect marine fish (those caught for the marine pet trade)?

  11. Viola Reade says:

    Are pangolins protected too? If not surely they should be before they become extinct.

  12. Christina D. says:

    Thank you and God bless and protect all animals. Continue to fight on their behalf and give voice to the exploited and abused who deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.

  13. William Klock says:

    First of all great job loving your work on the species!! I was wondering how long until these go into effect and much are these laws actually followed especially the one about exporting elephants since the sorry ass Trump administration voted against it? And was there not anything done for the pangolins these ancient looking animals need protection yesterday? Still nice work though.

  14. Hilary Sheffield says:

    Heartwarming news! So good to hear. Thank you so much to everyone involved with HSI. You bring hope to animals all over the world. Xx

  15. Sharon Lister says:

    This is such amazing news, at last something really positive for those beautiful animals out there. Thank you so much for working tirelessly to protect these and other precious species.

  16. Lynn Roberta Mason says:


  17. Nuria Gimenez Fuentes says:

    Por favor hagan algo yaaa!!!! Para detener la masacre de animales en todo el mundo!!!!!!!

  18. Bill Mcmullen says:

    Let’s hope it’s not mere votes without consequent positive proactive actions to protect animals threatened with mass extinction…..not akin to China voting in favour of the international climate change agreement at the sane time as they’re investing billions in building ice stations across the arctic to exploit that relatively pristine oceans vast fish, mineral and oil resources…..

  19. Kerryrose says:

    When the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket I read something like this and think we just maybe can save this tired old world for everything on it not just us.

  20. Robin Watson says:

    1 This is fantastic news but I do have a question. What you mean by the taking of young elephants is limited what exactly does that mean does that mean they can still rip elephants children from them to put in Chinese zoos

    • Diana says:

      No elephant, whether a baby elephant or an adult elephant should be taken anywhere. They should remain free in their natural habitat to live their lives together without any cursed human interference!

  21. Elizabeth Thorby says:

    Thankyou so much it seems like the people supporting animal rights are few and we’re isolated from mainstream but efforts like yours make me feel hope. Thank you 🙏

  22. Deb Jordan says:

    I am so pleased with these recent positive changes on behalf of so many endangered African animals.
    Keep up the great work and thank you Kitty Block!!

  23. Brenda Robinson says:

    This is great news! I look forward to seeing the benefits of this win for the animals who are suffering.

  24. Rafael Santana says:

    We’re making progress but there’s a lot more to do to help all species. Please continue everyone together fighting and protecting the voiceless.

  25. J King says:

    That is fantastic news! I hope other things get turned around as well! Thank you for all your hard work & efforts to keep this planet alive.

  26. Trisha McMurray says:

    Absolutely essential we maintain the pressure to give these amazing creatures as much protection as possible. Fabulous news. Well done to all concerned.

  27. Jacqueline Buckley says:

    Yes, well done…onward and upward!

  28. Paula A. says:

    What about lions and other wild cats?

  29. Kate Steel says:

    Great news. It is so important to have strong voice in the international arena. Well done. Let’s all keep the pressure on these decision makers to vote against animal cruelty and exploitation.

  30. Pat Marjoram says:

    These meetings would ideally be held more frequently, so that changes can be made as soon as anything is not going according to plan, changes can be made.

    I fear most for elephants being sold to zoos. Even though the numbers are being reduced, it has come to light that some elephants have been sold to very small zoos and the owners subsequently unable to afford to keep them.
    Thank you for all your you are doing for animals.

  31. Ann Mackie says:

    Yes well done We need good news A big Thank you

  32. Linda George says:

    Thank you and bless all of you for working so hard to protect these MAGNIFICENT ANIMALS. The world needs to protect all animals against evil.

  33. Andrew Dimoglou says:

    Yay!…some good news in these desperate times when wildlife is under severe pressure all over the world.Thanks to all those that made this possible.

  34. Sally Hall says:

    EU to ban beef from Brazil and Botswana as both kill the rain forests and Oxovango swamps. Meat I used for dog food as it is tough so ban both and leave the wild life alone if they are not cattle farming. They only do it through loop hole to export to EU.

  35. Maggie Foreman says:

    Very pleased to hear such great news, but what about the Lion trade. Was this discussed too??

  36. Elaine Parkin says:

    What about the little pangolin? As he most trafficked animal, did CITES vote to increase protection for them?

  37. Rosemary Haas says:

    This is a very short list albeit the challenge is immense. What are the actions are being taken by the respective governments to protect those species that you have listed. The trade off on elephants seems to be that “we won’t kill them” we will “capture them and send them to the most artificial environment available” but how is the kill rate going down. What is the status of vultures in Africa who have been being poisoned into extinction?
    Thank you for your response.

  38. Linda Michaels says:

    Thank you for the encouraging news from CITES regarding wildlife protections. Please work to not just limit, but to end all trade in wildlife and body parts. Please also include in CITES opposition to the dog and cat meat trade. These intelligent pets must be included in protection measures.

  39. Sally Griffin says:

    Thank you for all your hard work. I pray every night for all these animals and I am thrilled GOD has heard our prayers.
    GOD BLESS you all. Please keep up the incredibly work you are doing.

  40. Debbie Brent says:

    Shared widely !!!!! Great News !!!

  41. Gida Nabil Naser says:

    Wow that’s fantastic news I love what you do for all the animals thank you oh so very much for helping out the animals KEEP up the great work Humane society 😃

  42. Philip Ardern says:

    Wild stock of any species should remain just that WILD and fully protected , simple .

  43. Beatrice Moncada says:

    Wonderful news indeed!! Thank you for all your efforts in making life of animals better. Hoping that awareness will spread all over the more and more.

  44. Isabella R. says:

    Best birthday gift ever! Thank you! 🥰💗

  45. christophe says:

    Thank you for sharing these good news, it is about time that countries realize that animal welfare is a priority to safeguard our planet, no idy has thi right to exploit defenseless animals for business, crime or pleasure! hugely disappointed to see that the UDA opposed the elephant trade initiative, but actually is it not so surprising after all with the way the current so called President treats environmental issues!! Well done CITES, well done Kitty Block and thank you Humane Society! 👍

  46. S J Anixter says:

    Nothing on Pangolins? Lions or Tigers?

    Thank you though for all your work.

  47. Lars Frederik says:

    Be carefull to animals – ore you are primitive.

  48. Karen desveaux says:

    It is important for us as a human race to protect and care for the species of this earth .
    Our compassion and dedication to support important issues such as this is of utmost importance to me

  49. Esther Timberlake says:

    It is unconscionable that the USA did not support the proposal to limit the capture of elephants for zoos. I know that you are doing as much as possible to stop such horrible actions being inflicted on so many wild animals, but all of us who understand the importance of wildlife on the earth’s health must be advocates and fight hard against the participating countries. Get involved!

  50. Linda Badham says:

    I just hope its for every species .All wildlife have a God given life to live .Great news tho 👌

  51. R Leong says:

    Hurray, continue the great work! Thanks to all involved in helping to save animals!

  52. Lesley G. says:

    Sincerest thanks and congratulations to the entire Humane Society team and all associates for your unwavering efforts leading up to this fantastic win! Much deserved!

    We support your efforts and will be pleased to assist as you continue your great work.

  53. Lisa Shaw says:

    Thank you from the bottom of our hearts here in NH for everything you’re doing to preserve these precious creatures. I’m disheartened to think the US voted against some of the proposed sanctions. Shame on our country. I am a proud supporter of you HSI and HSUS. God bless all of you.

  54. Sharyn Gaul says:

    Thank you for al the efforts made to save animals from the pain and misery of being hunted captured and exploited. For all those who support the work of all animal life I give my gratitude along with millions of others. We need to keep up the pressure to ensure that all animals are treated fairly and with great care.

    Sharyn Gaul

  55. Marty says:

    Great News! Thx for keeping us informed HSI and also thx for the wonderful work you do in helping all animals worldwide. Very disappointed that the US would vote against limiting the number of elephants captured in Zimbabwe and Botswana. But considering that the US has an animal hating Congress and President we shouldn’t be surprised.

  56. Carol Ashby says:

    Great! But ALL elephant exports should be stopped. The cruelty is horrific, particularly to China and the East. It makes me weep to read about such horrors.

  57. BRIGID McClinton says:

    Wonderful news Thank you for bringing these urgent issues to our attention. God bless

  58. jose says:

    gracias por vuestra lucha amigos

  59. Nora Wheeler says:

    This is only a win for giraffes and elephants if they can be protected in the wild, which clearly is NOT happening. Wild populations are declining rapidly. The human population in Africa is increasing faster than any other part of the world and Africa’s population will exceed China and India by the end of this century. Will there be any “wild” at that point? It is hard to believe that human encroachment on their habitat will decrease given that fact. They would at least survive as a species if they were moved to sanctuaries.

  60. Jerald Gould says:

    I’m so proud to be a member of HSI & the wonderful work you do on behalf of our innocent sentient friends who can’t defend themselves . Your successful Geneva Conference on their behalf is another great example that stirs my heart with much joy. May you continue your noble work world wide & find more support to enable you to accomplish your life saving work .Jerald Gould [in Montreal]

  61. Patricia Høck says:

    Wonderful thank you so much

  62. Ursula Behrens says:

    I am delighted to see that the Humane Society is doing so much for the animals that have no voice, thank you!

  63. Bientje Verhoye says:

    Top geweldig. Wij geven nooit op. Alles voor dieren bedankt met vriendelijke groeten bientje love animals love vegan 💚🌱

  64. Merle Field says:

    Any little help any of these animals get is a plus’s agents the cruel greed mongers of this world

  65. David Scudder says:

    More protection needed for animals more patrols more rangers etc!

  66. Jenny Fisher says:

    That is brilliant news! Perhaps now life will improve greatly for these animals. It would be so nice to see all illegal trades of all animals completly extinct!

  67. Janice Stronge says:

    Best news. Thank you for all your hard work.

  68. Susan Lankey says:

    Well done to animal lovers and humane society.
    However I have little faith in CITES.
    After China stated they would stop importation of Ivory, Zimbabwe sent ‘baby elephants’ to Chinese zoos. Apart from that being cruel, those babies need their mothers and family, I started to wonder whether the Chinese are growing their own supplies of ivory?
    In my opinion we humans should stop ‘using’ all animals in the wild and let them be FREE as we wish to be ourselves. Animals have a right to freedom and to their habitats.

  69. Joke Rietveld says:

    I’m very happy with the results of the latest Cites conference, but please do something for the polar bears with the next conference.
    Every year about 900 polar bears are shot, legally ( in Canada and Greenland) and illegally (in Russia).
    They are much threatened and because of political and economic reasons the hunt still goes on.
    It would help a lot, if trade was forbidden.

  70. Susan Lankey says:

    So angry to see that the capture of wild elephants from Botswana and Zimbabwe has only been LIMITED, it should be banned.
    I have foster baby ORPHAN elephants in Kenya and have visited them. They are wonderful But are the result of human greed either due to poaching, overpopulation of humans ie human/ wildlife conflict or humans not caring about them falling into their wells etc. I do not want to live on to see us destroying this planet.

  71. Fred Domer says:

    CITES will still not stop immoral tiger farming in China, where 6000 tigers rot in cages waiting to be slaughtered for fake medicine.

  72. Karen.Greenwood says:

    Thank you for all your hard work in campaigning for these poor, beautiful animals.

  73. Crystal Alexander says:

    That is a relief. Thank you. I signed a petition to save these animals. I live in USA. I want to know who from my country voted against these protections? And why? Wete their numerous other species that the USA was also trhing to protect or was it another case of our Russian influenced, elected clown and traitor of a “president” the jerk voting against this new law? In any case, so grateful it passed to protect innocent beings.

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