Smugglers are profiting from our failure to define endangered species

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    Smugglers are profiting from our failure to define endangered species

    There are calls to improve a treaty on the international trade in endangered species – but there is no standard way to define species, says Stephen Garnett

    Museum specimens in drawers

    They’re harder to identify than you might think

    George Steinmetz/National Geographic Image Collection

    By Stephen Garnett

    It is 44 years since CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, came into force. Writing in the latest issue of Science, Eyal Frank at the University of Chicago and David Wilcox at Princeton University draw attention to a major problem with the treaty: its tendency to fall behind the times. Frank and Wilcox call for scientific knowledge on conservation to be “applied with more urgency” so that CITES can offer protection for wildlife the moment …

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