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International trade in endangered species


In 1989 New Zealand became a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). The quarantine service and New Zealand Customs were charged with intercepting endangered species and protecting living creatures which arrived in New Zealand, or seizing items made from them. 

In 2009, a German tourist was stopped at Christchurch airport and prevented from smuggling out 44 endangered geckos and skinks in his underpants. There are over 35,000 species on the CITES lists.

In this image, quarantine officer Rodney Allen holds an elephant’s foot imported in 1973 for use as a rubbish bin before CITES restrictions were in place.

How to cite this page

International trade in endangered species, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated