Joint statement from the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group & Amphibian Survival Alliance:

As part of joint amphibian trade workshops conducted in March 2015 in Washington DC and Singapore, several amphibian species were identified as needing attention in terms of regulation of international trade. These workshops, organized by the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), Defenders of Wildlife, Animal Welfare Institute and Singapore Zoo, were the first stepping stone in the development of amphibian proposals for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of the Parties 17 (COP17), to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 24 September-5 October 2016. CITES is an international agreement between governments, whose aim is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

A total of five amphibian proposals were submitted to CITES by the range states of Bolivia and Peru, Madagascar and China, covering seven anuran and one salamander species. These proposals received input from ASG members and other experts prior to their submission to CITES. In summary:

  • Proposal 37 requests the transfer of Dyscophus antongilii from CITES Appendix I to Appendix II
  • Proposal 38 asks the inclusion of Dyscophus guineti and Dyscophus insularis in Appendix II
  • Proposal 39 requests that Scaphiophryne marmorata, Scaphiophryne boribory and Scaphiophryne spinosa be included in Appendix II
  • Proposal 40 asks that Telmatobius culeus be included in Appendix I
  • Proposal 41 requests the inclusion of Paramesotriton hongkongensis in Appendix II

Further details on each proposal can be accessed on https://cites.org/eng/cop/17/prop/index.php.

IUCN and TRAFFIC conduct independent analyses of proposals submitted to every CITES COP. The analyses provide an assessment of each proposal against the listing criteria requirements of CITES.

The analyses for amphibian proposals can be downloaded from http://citesanalyses.iucn.org/.

Because some members of the amphibian conservation community considered several of these analyses to be over-evidentiary, a separate, independent review process was arranged for proposals 38-40. The purpose of these separate reviews was not to determine whether or not particular analyses were right or wrong, but to assess whether there were any systemic problems with the analyses.

The main conclusion from these separate reviews is that different reviewers come to different conclusions about the analyses. This has been attributed to the different attitudes taken towards uncertainty (where people fall on the evidence to precaution spectrum). It was determined that the approach that was taken with regards to evidence and precaution was similar to previous analyses, so there is consistency with past approaches. However, because of lack of guidance on how to handle data uncertainty when applying the CITES criteria, reaching differing conclusions in data-poor and data-uncertain situations is a reality and this has now been identified as an issue that needs to be further addressed for the future, most likely after the current CITES COP.

We will keep the amphibian conservation community informed of any developments in this regard.

Photo: Dyscophus antongilii © Francesco Veronesi

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