Speciesism and the Wildlife Trade: Who gets Listed, Downlisted and Uplisted in CITES?


Wildlife faces a number of threats due to human activity, including overexploitation from excessive and/or illegal trade. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is the main international legal instrument to address such overexploitation. However, not all species threatened by excessive trade are protected by CITES, leading to criticism that it is an instrument for the preservation of exploitation as opposed to the protection of wildlife (Goyes and Sollund 2016). This article explores whether CITES classifications can be said to perpetuate speciesist thinking. We highlight which species are more likely to receive protection by analysing which species are listed and how some species move between the CITES Appendices and comparing this to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) classifications for traded wildlife. We find that a species’ market value, charisma, and survival status form a complex set of characteristics that lead (or not) to the continual trade of some species, even though they are facing extinction from human consumption.

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Published: 2022-06-03
Pages:191 to 209
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How to Cite
Hutchinson, A., Stephens-Griffin, N. and Wyatt, T. (2022) “Speciesism and the Wildlife Trade: Who gets Listed, Downlisted and Uplisted in CITES?”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(2), pp. 191-209. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.1945.

Author Biographies

Northumbria University
 United Kingdom

Alison Hutchinson is a PhD candidate in Criminology at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK. With a background in conservation science, her doctoral research project draws from green, cultural, and Southern criminological perspectives to focus on the visibility and victimisation of marine species within CITES. Alison’s research interests include species and environmental justice, ecofeminism, and narrative and visual methodologies.

Northumbria University
 United Kingdom

Nathan Stephens Griffin is a senior lecturer at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK. He works across the disciplines of sociology, criminology and critical animal studies. His most recent research focuses on state/corporate repression of social movements, particularly the undercover policing of ecological protest. He is also interested in biographical, visual, and graphic narrative approaches to social research. He is the author of ‘Understanding Veganism: Biography and Identity‘ which was published by Palgrave in 2017.

Northumbria University
 United Kingdom

Tanya Wyatt is a Professor of Criminology at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK. She is a green criminologist specialising in wildlife crime and trafficking and non-human animal abuse. Much of her research focuses on the intersection of green crime and organised crime, corporate crime, and corruption. She is the author of ‘Is CITES Protecting Wildlife? assessing implementation and compliance' and 'Wildlife Trafficking: a deconstruction of the crime, victims and offenders Second edition'.