In 2019, conservation scientist Alice Hughes traveled to Geneva to attend a meeting for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a multilateral agreement aimed to protect endangered wildlife and plants by either banning or limiting their international trade. When members proposed giving protection to various species of Asian songbirds and tropical fish, which were heavily traded as exotic pets, these proposals were denied, Hughes said. Instead, the focus remained on more charismatic, “high-value” animals. “In both cases, it was said to be too expensive to list that number of species, which basically got me thinking, ‘Well, if these species that are clearly under significant threat from trade are not being covered, how many other species that are in trade are [not being covered]?” Hughes told Mongabay. A tokay gecko (Gekko gecko), for which Indonesia has an annual CITES export quota of 3 million, according to Hughes. Many traded individuals come from the wild, and are sold locally for $1 each. Image by Alice Hughes. These concerns prompted Hughes and two colleagues, Benjamin Marshall and Colin Strine, to undertake a study on the global wildlife trade, focusing specifically on reptiles, to understand how unregulated and under-regulated trade can affect wild populations. The results were published last month in Nature Communications. “Reptiles were ideal as only 9% were monitored by CITES and much of the trade is online,” Hughes said. The researchers gathered data from three main sources: the CITES trade portal, wildlife import records from the U.S. Fish…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer