© naturepl.com / John Downer / WWF Regional
Across the globe, illegal and unsustainable trade is pushing many species closer to the brink. Countries must take bold action at the world’s most important wildlife trade conference in September - CITES CoP17.

Big Five at CITES

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Controlling trade for conservation

The Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is central to global efforts to tackle overexploitation. WWF will be at its 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) working to secure the best result for the world’s threatened species, including our ‘Big Five at CITES’ – elephants, rhinos, sharks, pangolins and tigers.

What’s at stake for sharks and rays

Overfishing is a serious threat to many sharks as well as their close relatives, rays. Unsustainable demand for high value shark fins and the gill plates of certain rays threatens some species, especially those with very low productivity rates.

At the last CITES CoP, the large hammerhead sharks, the oceanic whitetip shark, the porbeagle, and manta rays were given a high degree of global protection by listing them on Appendix II, which only allows regulated trade within sustainable limits. But many other sharks and rays are also at risk.

© Brent Stirton / Getty Images

What does WWF want

With populations declining, WWF wants CITES to extend protection under CITES Appendix II to thresher and silky sharks, which are traded for their fins.

We also want greater protection for devil rays, which are valued for their gill plates that are very similar to those of manta rays, which are already protected under CITES.