New TRAFFIC-WWF report reveals France’s role in the legal and illegal trade in endangered species

In a new report launched on World Wildlife Day, WWF and TRAFFIC highlight mainland France’s and French overseas’ role in the trade of CITES1 species. With millions of wildlife specimens in trade to/from France each year, France is a significant trader in the EU. Accordingly, France also has a key role to play in preventing the over-exploitation of wildlife, by continuing to ensure the effective implementation of CITES and combating wildlife trafficking.

Please download the Document here below:

-wwf-traffic_report_bd_2021-03.pdf (5.6 MiB)


The European Union (EU) is an important player in the international legal and  illegal wildlife trade and is known to be a major destination market and trade hub  for wildlife and their commodities, including species listed on the Convention on  International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


Being one of the largest economies in the EU, France plays a crucial role in legal and  illegal wildlife trade in the EU. France also has 12 overseas territories scattered from  the subarctic (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon) to the Antarctic (Terre Adélie), through  the tropical zones of the three largest oceans, which makes the country a host to a remarkable biological diversity and endemism. Being a CITES Party since 1978,  France bears a responsibility in ensuring that trade in wild species is sustainable,  legal and traceable, not only as an importer and re-exporter, but also as a range state  for various wild species.


The aim of this report is to provide an assessment of the current state of France’s legal and illegal trade in CITES-listed species for the period 2008 to 2017 so as to offer insights into the key commodities in trade, trends and main trading partners involved in order to encourage France’s effort to fight further against wildlife crime. Data sources used include CITES trade data reported by France and other EU Member States, European Union Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange (EU[1]TWIX) seizure data, US CITES seizure data implicating France, and TRAFFIC’s global seizure database containing seizure information from open sources.


CITES trade data between 2008 and 2017 indicated France was a main importing destination country of wildlife commodities for the EU market, and (re-)export point to outside the EU; importer and re-exporter of live plants and plant products, reptile products, importer of corals, Queen Conch meat and medicinal leeches, and (re-) exporter of sturgeons and paddlefish specimens. The main trading partners varied depending on the commodities.


Among the various CITES-listed specimens seized in metropolitan France between 2008 and 2017, which totalled 3,342 seizure records according to EU-TWIX, the main commodity groups seized were elephant ivory, live reptiles, mammals (live mammals and mammal bodies, parts and derivatives), bird bodies, parts and derivatives by number of seizure records. The seizures were mainly carried out internally and on import while the main direction of trade and trading partners involved varied considerably depending on the commodity groups/species. It should be noted that any trends in illegal trade observed may in part be due to varying enforcement efforts and priorities over time, instead of shifts in demand or changes in illegal trade patterns.


Airports were the main location of seizures in France between 2008 and 2017, involving 813 seizure records involving 113,615 specimens and an additional 4,359 kg. Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport was confirmed as the main airport of those seizures, with elephant ivory and reptile bodies, parts and derivatives being the main commodity groups. In contrast, seizures at mail centres and maritime ports seem to have been less frequent in France during the period. Illegal wild meat trade is one of the areas which warrant further attention by the French authorities. The analysis of seizure data indicated seizures of wild meat in France between 2008 and 2017 were relatively low while most of them were transported from Central African countries and seized at airports on import as the previous studies suggested. Seizures of wild meat could be underreported as wild meat tends to be destroyed before species identification is made even if the specimen is CITES-listed species. With increasing human health concerns about pathogens as well as conservation, increased enforcement effort on shipments coming from Africa entering French airports are warranted.


In terms of imports of CITES-listed species into France overseas (FO), those into the France outermost regions were reportedly much higher than those into the France overseas countries and territories between 2008 and 2017. Live orchids were the main commodity imported into both the France outermost regions and France overseas countries and territories by number of specimens while Queen Conch meat was the main commodity imported into the France outermost regions by weight. In addition, France overseas were implicated in a total of 217 seizure records reported by France in the EU-TWIX database between 2008 and 2017, most of which were related to the France Outermost Regions. Both CITES trade data and seizure data suggest that Queen Conch is a very important species for France overseas especially for Martinique, Guadeloupe and Saint Martin, all in the Caribbean, confirming a previous study (Prada et al., 2017) indicating demand for Queen Conch meat in the region.


Please download the Document here below:

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