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It’s Official! African Manatees are now on CITES Appendix I

By Lucy Keith Diagne, 21st March 2013

Last week was a very big week for African manatees: the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) voted at their Conference of Parties in Bangkok, Thailand to uplist African manatees from Appendix II to Appendix I, a more protected status which will likely ban all commercial trade. This move was remarkable considering how little information currently exists for the species (particularly population trends and documentation of illegal trade). The original proposal to uplist the species was drafted by the country representative from Senegal, and I worked with him and colleagues from the Species Survival Network (SSN) for the past 8 months to edit and update the proposal, and supply photos and recent species documentation. Thirteen range countries also signed a declaration to CITES stating they will work towards specific objectives to decrease illegal hunting, improve manatee habitat altered by human development, and promote research, conservation and educational outreach. We hope to keep the momentum going and to continue collaborating with range countries to make sure real changes start happening on the ground. One of our first activities will be to create manatee anti-poaching informational posters to be distributed to every wildlife law enforcement agency in all countries in which African manatees occur.

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