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CITES and the advertising of endangered pets

If you are interested in keeping any of a variety of exotic pets such as tortoises, snakes, lizards and some even more uncommon types of animals including certain types of birds of prey, you have probably heard of CITES, which is “the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.”

CITES is a formal agreement that was drawn up between the governments of almost 200 different countries, in order to protect rare and endangered species of both plants and animals and their habitats worldwide. Cites also helps to ensure that the demand for certain types of animals and plants from collectors and those wishing to own exotic pets does not negatively impact on the welfare and viability of species as a whole.

When it comes to people wishing to buy certain types of exotic pets and others who might be looking to import and/or sell them, it is important to develop a basic understanding of how CITES may apply to you, and ensure that you neither break the law, nor do anything to further endanger at-risk animals or their habitats.

In this article, we will look at how CITES applies to people who might be considering advertising or searching forcertain exotic pets via Pets4Me, and how you can ensure that you do not fall foul of the law. Read on to learn more.

More about the CITES regulations

The CITES regulations restrict and regulate the international trade in over 5,000 different animal species (as well as many more different plant species), in order to ensure that endangered or threatened animal populations are not negatively threatened by demand from the pet trade, and just as importantly, that their habitats are not destroyed due to excessive demand either.

In the UK, it is DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) that manages compliance with the regulations, under the banner authority of APHA (the Animal and Plant Health Agency), which is an executive agency of DEFRA. CITES is also given certain statutory authorities by wider EU regulations, which allows CITES to be managed and enforced in the EU.

Different levels of protection are afforded for the various different species covered by CITES depending on how critical the level of the threat to them (or their habitat) is perceived to be, and these different levels are referred to annexes A-D, with Annex A referring to the most restrictive regulations, with Annex D the least restrictive.

In terms of what this means on the ground for the pet trade in the UK, Annex C and Annex D have the least number of regulations, and do not have a direct impact on the purchase or sale of exotic pets in the UK, with Annex D essentially making up a list of species that are monitored, rather than those that fall under the umbrella of any regulations.

For the purposes of Pets4Me advertisers and buyers, only Annex A and Annex B are relevant.

To transport a pet that is listed on Annex A or B into or out of the EU-such as if they are being imported or exported for the pet trade-the animals must be accompanied by an APHA-issued certificate of import or export.

For Annex B animals, the regulations essentially stop once the animal has been legally imported or exported; however, for animals that fall under Annex A, further restrictions are in place for their sale or purchase, even for private sales within the UK.

Annex A animals, when bought or sold, must be accompanied by one of the two types of Certificate of Sale regulated by Article 10 of the regulations, which mandates the retention of the chain of ownership of the animal in question, and also, requires the animal to be microchipped, tattooed or otherwise issued with a permanent identify mark, with the details of the mark recorded in the certificate.

The two different types of Article 10 Certificate of Sale are known as an SSC (Specimen-specific certificate) or a TSC (Transaction-specific certificate), with the latter being valid only for the person listed on the certificate, while the former covers whoever owns or is in possession of the animal at the time, and which must be transferred with the pet to their new owner or keeper.

Which pets are affected by CITES?

The total number of animal species that are covered by the CITES regulations come to well over 5,000, and these will range between Annex A-D, meaning that a significant number of them do not need any special action or attention on the part of buyers or sellers in order to remain within the law.

If you are not sure whether or not any animal you are thinking about buying or selling will fall under the CITES regulations and to what level, you can find out by entering their species name in this handy search tool, or browse the full list. A short list of the species that are most commonly bought and sold in the UK and that fall under CITES protection can be found here.

What does this mean for Pets4Me users?

If you wish to use Pets4Me to advertise any species of animal that falls under Annex A or Annex B, you must be in possession of the relevant SSC or TSC certificate, and provide us with the permit number associated with it, or your advertisement will be rejected or removed. If you need to get an Article 10 certificate in order to legally sell your pet, you can find out how to apply for one and submit your application here.

For buyers, if you have your heart set on a certain type of exotic species, it is important to find out its Annex status and what this means for you before you contact a potential seller. If you are simply browsing and something catches your eye, it is also important to check out the regulations pertaining to the species in question before you go any further.

When looking at adverts for Annex A animals, look for confirmation that the seller is in possession of the relevant Article 10 certificate, and if you do ultimately buy the animal, ensure that a copy of the certificate is provided to you.

If you find that any person attempting to sell an Annex A animal on Pets4Me does not have the relevant paperwork or will not provide it for you, or if you otherwise have reason to suspect that the seller is in breach of the CITES regulations, please report the advert to us so that we can take action.