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Table of Contents

  • GS-3 Environment
    • World Wildlife Day 2023: Why this day and the underlying CITES agreement are significant
  • Fact File
    • No sale of gold jewellery without HUID from April 1: What is this tag, why it is important
    • How SpaceX and other companies’ satellites are spoiling images taken by Hubble telescope

World Wildlife Day 2023: Why this day and the underlying CITES agreement are significant

GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


World Wildlife Day (WWD) is celebrated every year on March 3rdto raise awareness about the conservation of flora and fauna. 


This year's theme is "Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation," which aims to acknowledge all the conservation efforts, ranging from intergovernmental to local levels.


The theme also emphasizes the need to conserve marine life and oceans and emphasizes the importance of collaborating with businesses and funding conservation activities. To effectively reverse the loss of biodiversity, successful conservation partnerships must include the business sector.


World Wildlife Day: A Celebration of Conservation and CITES' 50th Anniversary

  • The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 3 as World Wildlife Day in 2013.
  • This was in honor of the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on March 3, 1973.
  • CITES is a landmark agreement on conservation that focuses on ensuring the sustainability of endangered species.
  • March 3, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of CITES’ establishment.



  • CITES is an international agreement between governments.
  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
  • The CITES Secretariat is administered by UNEP (The United Nations Environment Programme) and is located in Geneva, Switzerland. 
  • The Conference of the Parties (CoP) to CITES is the supreme consensus-based decision-making body of the Convention and comprises all its parties.


Convention text

  • CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation Union). 
  • The text of the Convention was finally agreed at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington, D.C., United States of America, on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES entered in force
  • The original of the Convention was deposited with the Depositary Government in the English, French and Spanish languages, each version being equally authentic. The Convention is also available in Chinese and Russian.


Parties of the Convention

  • CITES is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations voluntarily adhere.
  • States that agree to be bound by the Convention are known as Parties.
  • Although legally binding, CITES does not replace national laws but provides a framework to be respected by each Party.
  • Each Party must adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
  • CITES is among the conservation agreements with the largest membership and currently has 184 Parties.


The need for CITES

  • CITES was formed in the 1960s when international discussion of wildlife trade regulation for conservation purposes was relatively new.
  • The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a wide range of products derived from them.
  • Some species are highly exploited, and trade coupled with habitat loss can cause extinction.
  • CITES accords varying degrees of protection to over 37,000 species of animals and plants, regardless of how they are traded.
  • CITES was established to regulate the cross-border trade in wild animals and plants and requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation.


CITES and International Trade in Endangered Species

  • CITES controls international trade of selected species through a licensing system.
  • Management and Scientific Authorities of each Party administer the licensing system.
  • Species are listed in three Appendices according to their level of protection needed.

Appendices I and II

  • Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction, trade only allowed in exceptional circumstancessuch as gorillas and lions from India.
  • Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatenedwith extinction but trade must be controlled to ensure their survival. Examples include certain types of foxes and hippopotamuses.
  • The CoP uses biological and trade criteria to determine inclusion in Appendices I and II.
  • Amendments to Appendices require proposals and voting at CoP meetings or a rare postal procedure.

Appendix III

  • Appendix III contains species protected in at least one country that requires assistance from other CITES Parties in controlling trade.
  • Species such as the Bengalfox or the GoldenJackal from India are included in this category.
  • Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedurefrom changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.

Licensing Requirements for CITES-listed species

  • An appropriate document is required for importing, exporting, and re-exporting a CITES-listed species.
  • Appendices I and II require import/export permit or re-export certificate.
  • Appendix III requires export permit or certificate of origin for trade from different states and re-export certificate for re-exporting from the same state.


Financing of the Convention

Core funding - CITES Trust Fund (CTL)

  • The CITES Trust Fund (CTL) finances administrative costs of the Secretariat, Conference of the Parties, and other permanent committees.
  • It is replenished by contributions from the Parties based on the United Nations scale of assessment.

External funding - CITES External Trust Fund (QTL)

  • The CITES External Trust Fund (QTL) funds voluntary programs/projectsactivities costs.
  • It consists of extrabudgetarycontributions from Parties and other entities on a voluntary basis.
  • Each offer of funding is negotiated and vetted by the Secretariat.


Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) in India

  • The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is a statutory body in India under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, established to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
  • It provides assistance and advice to customs authorities in inspecting consignments of flora and fauna, in accordance with the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972, CITES, and the export and import policy regulating items.


Criticism of CITES

  • The legality of wildlife trade is a controversial issue, as some argue that it increases the risk of illegal trade, and CITES protection often comes after a species is already threatened.
  • National Geographic cites a 2019 study that found CITES protections lag behind in almost two-thirds of cases where a species is threatened by international trade.
  • Many animals in the wildlife trade are not protected by CITES, and violations of the convention rarely result in sanctions, due to the voluntary nature of membership.
  • Critics have questioned CITES' effectiveness, citing instances where it allowed the ivory trade despite a 1989 ban, resulting in spikes in elephant poaching after one-off sales in 1999 and 2008.
  • Despite its limitations, CITES has successfully aided in the recovery of some species, such as the South American vicuna and the Nile crocodile.


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Fact File

No sale of gold jewellery without HUID from April 1: What is this tag, why it is important

  • HUID stands for Hallmark Unique Identity and is a unique identification number assigned to gold jewelry and artifactsby the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) after testing and certifying their purity.
  • It is a 6-digit alphanumeric code which is unique for every hallmarked gold jewellery. 
  • The HUID system was introduced by the Indian government to ensure that consumers get qualitygoldjewelry and artifacts that meet puritystandards. 
  • The HUID number helps to identify the jeweler or manufacturer, the year of manufacture, and the purity of the gold used in the jewelry or artifact.
  • From April 1, 2022, the sale of gold jewelry and artifactswithout a HUID number will be prohibited in India. 
  • This is part of the government's efforts to curb the sale of counterfeit and substandard gold jewelry in the country. 
  • The move is expected to help protect consumers from fraudulent practices and ensure that they get quality goldjewelry and artifacts that meet purity standards.

How SpaceX and other companies’ satellites are spoiling images taken by Hubble telescope

  • The is Hubble Space Telescope a large, space-basedobservatory that orbits the Earth and is operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). 
  • It was launched into orbit in 1990 and has since made significant contributions to our understanding of the universe.
  • The Hubble telescope is equipped with a range of instruments that allow it to observe distant galaxies, stars, and other celestial objects in visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. 
  • Its observations have enabled scientists to make groundbreakingdiscoveries about the age of the universe, the existence of dark matter and dark energy, and the formation and evolution of galaxies.
  • The telescope is named after American astronomer EdwinHubble, who was instrumental in developing the field of extragalactic astronomy and whose observations helped to establish the idea of an expanding universe.
  • When launched, the primary objectives of the Hubble Space Telescope were to
  • investigate the constitution, physical characteristics, and dynamics of celestial bodies
  • determine the nature of processes occurring in stellar and galactic objects
  • study the history and evolution of the universe
  • confirm universality of physical laws
  • provide a long-term space research facility for optical astronomy


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