In news: India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of star tortoises, the smooth-coated otter and small-clawed otters in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) have been approved at the Conference of the Parties (COP18) held at Geneva.

  • These species have been listed under Appendix I of CITES and will now enjoy the highest degree of protection as there will be a complete international ban enforced on their trade.

More about CoP 18 :

  • The Indian star tortoise, smooth-coated otters and Asian small-clawed otters  were upgraded to CITES Appendix I giving it the highest level of international protection from commercial trade. 
  • The Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) and 18 species of sharks and rays were included for the first time under Appendix II. o The gecko is used in Chinese traditional medicine and traded throughout south-east Asia in dried form or preserved in alcohol. 
  • Giraffes have been accorded protection from unregulated trade i.e. it is placed in Appendix II of CITES.

Need for protection

Indian Star tortoises:

  • IUCN status: Vulnerable

Smooth-coated otter:

  • IUCN status: Vulnerable

Small-clawed otters

  • IUCN status: Vulnerable


  • 90% of trade of star tortoises occurs as part of the international pet market for fur and as pets.
  • The species is categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union of Conservation of Nature and a decline greater than 30% was predicted by 2025 if the exploitation continued or expanded.
  • In case of the small-clawed otter and smooth-coated otter, which are traded for their fur in the international market, numbers are also declining due to habitat loss.


  • CITES also known as the Washington Convention is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
  • It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • CITES is one of the largest and oldest conservation and sustainable use agreements in existence. 
  • Participation is voluntary, and countries that have agreed to be bound by the Convention are known as Parties. 
  • CITES is legally binding:  it provides a framework respected by each Party, which must adopt their own domestic legislation to implement CITES at the national level.
  • Appendix I - Includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances e.g. Tiger, Himalayan brown bear, elephant, and Tibetan antelope. 
  • Appendix II - includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival e.g. Hippopotamus, bigleaf mahogany, and the gray wolf. 
  • Appendix III - A species included at the request of a country which then needs the cooperation of other countries to help prevent illegal exploitation, e.g. walrus, Hoffmann's two-toed sloth.