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Science and Sleuthing: Improving CITES Enforcement Through Innovations in Wildlife Forensic Technology

July 2017

Citation: 47 ELR 10580

Issue: 7

Author: Victoria Bogdan Tejeda

In 1975, 80 countries entered into the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Today, CITES covers 35,000 species. Though CITES is widely used, protected species continue to slide to extinction. Two main obstacles hinder its success: (1) fraudulent paperwork, where an individual attempts to pass an endangered or threatened species as a non-protected one in order to access a legal market; and (2) illicit poaching and trafficking. This Comment outlines the origins and mechanisms of CITES; examines the tools of wildlife forensics, current lab capacities and activities around the world, and how the science has been applied to CITES; assesses gaps in how CITES utilizes forensic science; and offers various proposals to address these challenges.

Victoria Bogdan Tejeda graduated from the University of California Davis School of Law in 2017 with a concentration in environmental law. Prior to law school, she consulted for environmental nonprofit organizations and co-founded the citizen science and technology group Nerds for Nature.

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