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Novel collaboration over international trade in wildlife

The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent have agreed to co-operate in training and capacity-building activities following the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Willem Wijnstekers, Secretary-General of the CITES Secretariat, and Professor David Melville, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent.

The international trade in wildlife is worth millions of dollars annually, and the use of wild species is an imperative for many people, particularly the rural poor. Paradoxically, use of and trade in wild species presents both an opportunity and a threat to conserving biological diversity. When poorly regulated, over-use has threatened many species in the wild and caused past and recent extinctions. Equally, when well regulated, use and international trade can provide an important incentive to conserve wild species and habitats.

Both CITES and DICE recognise that managing international trade and use will be key to balancing the needs of people and wildlife, and that many countries implementing and enforcing CITES need assistance with capacity building. This requires a broad interdisciplinary approach which the CITES Secretariat and DICE are working to encourage. ‘This novel collaboration between the Secretariat of an international convention and a British university seeks to train conservation professionals and natural resource managers. Such training is central to the DICE mission and collaboration with CITES is pivotal in promoting the sustainability of consumptive use programmes,’ said Nigel Leader-Williams, Professor of Biodiversity Management and Director of DICE.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Secretariat of CITES and DICE aim to collaborate in the design of instructional materials and resources on biodiversity conservation, management and wildlife trade. The signing of the Memorandum also marks the launch by DICE of a new masters programme on International Wildlife Trade and Conservation, to complement the Institute’s two established masters programmes in Conservation Biology and Conservation and Tourism.

By collaborating on designing materials and developing courses and innovative teaching mechanisms, both CITES and DICE aim to reach a broad audience with materials designed to help professionals develop pragmatic solutions to benefit livelihoods and deliver conservation objectives. Willem Wijnstekers said, ‘The launch of the new MSc in International Wildlife Trade and Conservation is a particularly exciting development in CITES collaborations to build the necessary capacity to effectively manage international trade in wildlife.’

Karen Baxter | alfa
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