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CITES (2018). CITES Wildlife Trade Database [Dataset].
Organization logo

CITES Wildlife Trade Database

A year in the international wildlife trade

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10 scholarly articles cite this dataset (View in Google Scholar)
zip(512235 bytes)Available download formats
Dataset updated
Jan 29, 2018
Dataset authored and provided by


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES for short, is an international treaty organization tasked with monitoring, reporting, and providing recommendations on the international species trade. CITES is a division of the IUCN, which is one of the principal international organization focused on wildlife conversation at large. It is not a part of the UN (though its reports are read closely by the UN).

CITES is one of the oldest conservation organizations in existence. Participation in CITES is voluntary, but almost every member nation in the UN (and, therefore, almost every country worldwide) participates. Countries participating in CITES are obligated to report on roughly 5000 animal species and 29000 plant species brought into or exported out of their countries, and to honor limitations placed on the international trade of these species.

Protected species are organized into three appendixes. Appendix I species are those whose trade threatens them with extinction. Two particularly famous examples of Class I species are the black rhinoceros and the African elephant, whose extremely valuable tusks are an alluring target for poachers exporting ivory abroad. There are 1200 such species. Appendix II species are those not threatened with extinction, but whose trade is nevertheless detrimental. Most species in cites, around 21000 of them, are in Appendix II. Finally, Appendix III animals are those submitted to CITES by member states as a control mechanism. There are about 170 such species, and their export or import requires permits from the submitting member state(s).

This dataset records all legal species imports and exports carried out in 2016 (and a few records from 2017) and reported to CITES. Species not on the CITES lists are not included; nor is the significant, and highly illegal, ongoing black market trading activity.


This dataset contains records on every international import or export conducted with species from the CITES lists in 2016. It contains columns identifying the species, the import and export countries, and the amount and characteristics of the goods being traded (which range from live animals to skins and cadavers).

For further details on individual rows and columns refer to the metadata on the /data tab. A much more detailed description of each of the fields is available in the original CITES documentation.


This dataset was originally aggregated by CITES and made available online through this downloader tool. The CITES downloader goes back to 1975, however it is only possible to download fully international data two years at a time (or so) due to limitations in the number of rows allowed by the data exporter. If you would like data going further back, check out the downloader. Be warned, though, this data takes a long time to generate!

This data is prepared for CITES by UNEP, a division of the UN, and hence likely covered by the UN Data License.


  • What is the geospatial distribution of the international plant/animal trade?
  • How much export/import activity is there for well-known species, like rhinos, elephants, etcetera?
  • What percent of the trade is live, as opposed to animal products (ivory, skins, cadavers, etcetera)?
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