UNDP/GEF project conducted a workshop on illegal trade of endangered species of the Altai-Sayan ecoregion

“We must stop illegal trade of endangered species” was the slogan of the workshop held in Novosibirsk within the UNDP/GEF Project “Biodiversity Conservation in the Russian Portion of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion”. The workshop “Development of International Cooperation to apply Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion” was organized by the local NGO “Siberian Ecological Center” together with the Siberian Customs Department, WWF – Mongolia, and Association of Biodiversity Conservation in Kazakhstan.

Workshop was attended by conservation experts, customs employees, and representatives of the Administrative and Scientific Bodies of CITES of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. The major issues discussed were the problem of illegal transboundary trade in species of wild fauna and flora of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion and the strengthening of international cooperation to combat illegal trade in the CITES species.


It is for the first time that such an international workshop was arranged. The custom plays an extremely significant role in combating such illegal trade. It serves as the last barrier to trafficking of the most valuable wildlife species and their derivates. The workshop participants discussed the problems pertaining to control over trafficking of the CITES specie, mechanisms pf information exchange among the customs of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia, and national CITES bodies. Special attention was paid to the discussion of joint actions of the three countries’ custom services aimed at combating illegal trade in the CITES species and the interaction between the customs officers and experts on the CITES specie. The latter can provide assistance in identifying arrested specie and their derivates.

The participants’ Appeal states the workshop follow up activities such as:


- to provide exchange of information among the customs services in the near-border regions of Russia and Kazakhstan, and Russia and Mongolia, as well as among central administrative bodies of the customs services of Mongolia and Kazakhstan;

- to publish and widely disseminate annual reports of the customs services of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia on the detention of CITES species and derivates and other activities aimed at applying CITES and national legislation on protection of endangered species;

- to strengthen cooperation among the customs of the three countries and national Administrative and Scientific CITES bodies to ensure information exchange on the illegal trade in the CITES species and derivates, in species of the Red Data Books as well as on all disclosed cases of illegal trade in such species;

- to prepare and publish a special manual (national Administrative CITES bodies will be in charge) on the permitting documents in customs control for the dissemination among the customs bodies of the three countries.

The workshop participants highly appreciated the results achieved within the UNDP/GEF Project “Biodiversity Conservation in the Russian Portion of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion” and by the NGO “Siberian Ecological Center” on the improvement of skills of customs officers in Russia and Mongolia to control traffic of the CITES species.

It was decided to hold the next trilateral workshop in Kazakhstan in the year 2009.



According to Interpol, the world illegal trade in wild animals and plants takes the second place after drug trafficking, totaling 15 billion US dollars a year. Illegal trade in wild animals is an extremely profitable business. There is a steady increase in the numbers of endangered birds and animals involved in such business. In Russia alone the number of arrested shipments of “live goods” has grown nearly twice from 2004 to 2007. The Altai-Sayan species that have long been the subjects of illegal trade are the musk-deer, brown bear, Siberian deer, Altai mountain sheep, snow leopard, saiga, large falcons, and many plant species.