The impact of CITES-listing on the Chinese Hwamei

Text by Dr. Chris R. Shepherd, Monitor Conservation Research Society Executive Director

Researchers from the Monitor Conservation Research Society and the Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group have evaluated the trade in the Chinese Hwamei (Garrulax canorus) and the effects which the long-term CITES appendix II listing have had on the species conservation.

Chinese Hwamei for sale in Hong Kong. Image by Simon Bruslund

The Chinese Hwamei is one of the few Asian songbirds listed in the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Data was compared from Asian countries outside the species range where the international trade is high but should be regulated by CITES. Assessing if CITES import and export figures matched with observations in the bird markets, and online trade.

The study found that numbers of Chinese Hwamei for sale outside the natural range appear to have been impacted by the CITES listing. Still there is regular trade ongoing without the necessary legal documentation, in violation of the Convention. Neither Thailand nor Indonesia have reported the legal import of any Chinese Hwamei since its CITES-listing, despite some 2,000 birds having been recorded openly for sale in these countries, suggesting large-scale undocumented and therefore illegal international trade in the species.

Given the global nature of the trade in a growing list of songbirds, it is essential that CITES be effectively used to ensure illegal and unsustainable international trade is not a threat to the conservation of these species.

Read more about the research which was supported by Fondation Segré and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on the Monitor Conservation Research Society website or download the open access paper here