Overview of CITES imports

This section provides an overview of imports of CITES-listed species reported by EU Member States and candidate countries in 2014. Member States reported approximately the same number of import transactions as in 2013, demonstrating the consistent importance of the EU market. Live plants were the most highly traded commodity by the EU; of which the majority of imports were wild-sourced.

The sections below focus initially on numbers of trade transactions recorded within annual reports, followed by an overview of trade by commodities. The overview of the transactions (i.e. number of shipments in trade) is included in order to provide a broad overview of the character of trade that is uncomplicated by the variety of different commodity types and units of measure reported. However, it is important to note that the number of transactions does not provide any indication of the quantity of items in trade, as a single transaction may vary from one trophy to 500 cubic meters of timber to 10 000 leather products. The analysis of trade in particular commodities therefore focuses on the quantity of items in trade.

This section considers both direct and indirect imports.

TransactionsTop commodities imported

In 2014, just under 95 000 import transactions were reported by Member States in their annual reports to CITES; as in 2013, the majority of transactions in 2014 involved either wild-sourced (52%) or captive-produced /artificially propagated commodities (36%) and were for commercial purposes (95%). The total number of import transactions reported by Member States remained constant between 2013 and 2014.  A total of 3177 different taxa were imported by Member States in 2014, of which 73% were plants.

Number of EU import transactions reported by EU Member States by source, 2005 – 2014. ‘Captive -produced’ includes source ‘C’, ‘A’, ‘D’ and ‘F’; ‘Other’ includes source ‘O’,‘U’ and trade reported without a source.

Number of import transactions reported by EU Member States by purpose in 2014. ‘Other’ includes purpose ‘B’, ‘E’, ‘G’, ‘M’, ‘N’, ‘Q’, ‘S’, ‘Z’ and trade reported without a purpose.

When quantities are analysed, plants dominate the trade, with live plants, leaves and stems emerging as the top commodities imported by the EU in 2014, as in 2013. Reptile skins and bark reported by weight were also imported at levels greater than one million units in 2014. Reptile skins were imported at similar levels in 2013, however lower imports of bark by weight were reported. This section provides further details on commodities exceeding one million units in 2014.

Top 10 commodities by group imported by EU Member States in 2014 ordered by quantity (as reported by importers).

Group Term (unit) Quantity imported Main source (%) Trend 2013-2014 No. of taxa involved Main wild-sourced taxa (% of wild)
[l]Plants [l]live [r]22 559 236 [l]W (73%) [l]↓17% [r]2116 [l][i]Galanthus woronowii[/i] (Green snowdrop; 72%)
[l]Plants [l]leaves [r]2 829 970 [l]A (99%) [l]↓25% [r]3 [l][i]Aloe ferox[/i] (Cape aloe; 100%)
[l]Plants [l]stems [r]2 428 586 [l]A (>99%) [l]↓13% [r]31 [l][i]Eulychnia acida[/i] (Copao; 100%)
[l]Reptiles [l]skins [r]1 382 079 [l]W (60%) [l]↑13% [r]29 [l][i]Alligator mississippiensis[/i] (American alligator; 52%)
[l]Timber [l]bark (kg) [r]1 335 994 [l]W (>99%) [l]↑44% [r]2 [l][i]Prunus africana[/i] (African cherry; 100%)
[l]Reptiles [l]small leather products [r]988 871 [l]W (87%) [l]↓1% [r]31 [l][i]Alligator mississippiensis[/i] (American alligator; 85%)
[l]Corals [l]live [r]565 897 [l]W (58%) [l]↑4% [r]160 [l][i]Catalaphyllia jardinei[/i] (Elegant coral; 8%)
[l]Plants [l]wax (kg) [r]472 625 [l]W (100%) [l]↑1% [r]1 [l][i]Euphorbia antisyphilitica[/i] (Candelilla; 100%)
[l]Plants [l]roots [r]435 012 [l]A (>99%) [l]↓47% [r]14 [l][i]Aspasia principissa, Maxillaria uncata, Sobralia bletiae, Trigondium egertonianum[/i] (Orchids; all 12%)
[l]Invertebrates [l]meat (kg) [r]406 408 [l]W (100%) [l]↑20% [r]1 [l][i]Strombus gigas[/i] (Queen conch; 100%)

Key: ↓ signifies decrease in trade in 2014 compared to 2013; ↑ signifies increase in trade in 2014 compared to 2013.

Live plants

In 2014, Member States imported a total of 22 559 236 live plants, of which virtually all (99%) were imported for commercial purposes. Total imports of live plants decreased by 17% compared to 2013; wild-sourced imports remained at similar levels. Wild-sourced plants (primarily Galanthus species) accounted for 73% of imports, with artificially propagated plants (sources ‘A’ and ‘D’) comprising the remainder. Of all plants imported, >99% of the taxa involved were Appendix II-listed.

As in 2013, Turkey was the principal trading partner, accounting for 64% of live plants imported; of these, 37% were re-exports originating in Georgia (all G. woronowii, Green snowdrop). The SRG confirmed a positive opinion for G. woronowii from Georgia on 30/06/2009 (with a quota of 15 millions bulbs) and for Turkey on 16/02/2010. Seventy eight per cent of all live plant imports comprised Galanthus spp. (snowdrop) of which 92% were wild-sourced.

Top imports of live plants by EU Member States in 2014, by taxa and source. ‘Artificially propagated’ includes source ‘A’ and ‘D’.

Leaves and stems

Imports of leaves and stems reduced by 20% in 2014 compared to 2013 levels and, as in 2013, Cycas revoluta (Fern palm) was the top species traded as leaves, accounting for over 99% of the roughly 2.8 million leaves imported by the EU in 2014. The vast majority of leaves were artificially propagated and imported by the Netherlands directly from Costa Rica for commercial purposes. The import of an additional 165 kg of leaves were reported, all of which were artificially propagated Aloe secundiflora.

Of the approximately 2.4 million stems that were imported by the EU in 2014, the vast majority were from the family Cactaceae. Nearly all imports were artificially propagated for commercial purposes (99%) and the principal exporter was the United Republic of Tanzania (hereafter referred to as Tanzania) accounting for 77% of imports. Stem imports were dominated by trade in Rhipsalis species (91%).

Top imports of artificially propagated stems, reported by number, by EU Member States in 2014, by taxa.

Reptile skins

In 2014, over 1.3 million reptile skins were imported by Member States, an increase of thirteen per cent compared to 2013. As in 2013, the majority were wild-sourced (60%) and for commercial purposes (>99%). Nearly half of all skins were imported from Asia; countries in the Americas also represented key trading partners.

The United States and Singapore were the top EU trading partners, accounting for 25 and 24 % of imports, respectively. Singapore acts as an entrepôt state for the reptile skin trade and almost all imports by EU Member States in 2014 from Singapore were indirect trade, with the majority originating in other Asian countries (primarily Viet Nam and Indonesia) and the United States.

Imports of reptile skins by EU Member States in 2014, by CITES region of (re-)export and source. ‘Captive-produced’ includes source ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘F’. ‘Other’ includes source ‘O’ and trade reported without a source. “Europe” excludes EU Member States.

As in the preceding years, Alligator mississippiensis (American alligator; >99% of which was wild-sourced) was the top taxa in trade, accounting for nearly a third of all trade in skins. A. mississippiensis accounted for over 99% of wild-sourced trade from North America. Other species traded at notable levels as wild-sourced were Varanus salvator (Water monitor) and Python reticulatus (Reticulated python) representing 34% and 24% of wild-sourced trade from Asia. Trade in Caiman and Tupinambis (Tegu) species accounted for 99% of wild sourced exports from Central and South America.

Top 10 reptile taxa imported as skins by EU Member States in 2014 (both directly and indirectly), by source. ‘Captive-produced’ includes source ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘F’. ‘Other’ includes trade reported without a source. 


In 2014, over 1.3 million kg of bark was imported by Member States, an increase of 44% compared to 2013. As in 2013, Prunus africana (African cherry) was the top species traded as bark in 2014, accounting for almost all of the bark imported by the EU (>99%). All of P. africana was wild-sourced, the majority of which (78%) was exported from Cameroon, followed by 14% exported from Uganda.

Further details on species imported at notable levels or showing noteworthy trends in 2014 compared with previous years are provided here.

TransactionsTop commodities imported
Over 5000 import transactions were reported by the four candidate countries who submitted annual reports in 2014. Numbers of import transactions increased over the period 2005-2014, with import transactions in 2014 increasing by 66% relative to 2013. This can primarily be attributed to increasing imports of reptile leather products, involving Python bivittatus (Burmese python), P. reticulatus (Reticulated python) and Alligator mississippiensis (American alligator), by Turkey.

Number of import transactions reported by the countries that were EU candidates in 2014, by source, 2005-2014. ‘Captive-produced’ includes sources ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘F’. ‘Other’ includes sources ‘O’, ‘U’ and trade reported without a source.

The majority of import transactions in 2014 were for commercial purposes (98%); approximately half involved wild-sourced commodities (46% of import transactions). The top importer in 2014 was Turkey (81% of import transactions).

In contrast with EU-reported imports, the majority of candidate country imports in 2014 involved animal rather than plant commodities; the top commodities imported were reptile and mammal skins, of which the majority were wild-sourced (70% and 99%, respectively). 

Commodities imported by candidate countries at quantities greater than 1000 units in 2014, ordered by quantity (as reported by importers). Quantities have been rounded to the nearest whole number, if appropriate.

Group Term (unit) Quantity imported Top taxon (%) Top importer (%) Main source (%)
[l]Reptiles [l]skins [r]60 791 [l][i]Python reticulatus[/i] (Reticulated python; 85%) [r]Turkey (>99%) [r]W (70%)
[l]Mammals [l]skins [r]38 861 [l][i]Lycalopex gymnocercus[/i] (Pampas fox; 39%) [r]Turkey (>99%) [r]W (99%)
[l]Plants [l]live [r]27 521 [l][i]Phalaenopsis[/i] spp. (Moth orchids; 24%) [r]Montenegro (100%) [r]A (100%)
[l]Birds [l]live [r]25 248 [l][i]Psittacus erithacus[/i] (African grey parrot; 42%) [r]Turkey (100%) [r]W (54%)
[l]Corals [l]raw corals [r]15 814 [l][i]Scleractinia[/i] spp. (Stony corals; 34%) [r]Turkey (100%) [r]W (72%)
[l]Fish [l]fingerlings [r]15 500 [l][i]Acipenser baerii[/i] (Siberian sturgeon; 61%) [r]Serbia (100%) [r]C (100%)
[l]Reptiles [l]small leather products [r]15 218 [l][i]Alligator mississippiensis[/i] (American alligator; 38%) [r]Turkey (97%) [r]W (64%)
[l]Mammals [l]skin pieces [r]14 865 [l][i]Arctocephalus pusillus[/i] (Cape fur seal; 100%) [r]Turkey (100%) [r]W (100%)
[l]Reptiles [l]skins (m) [r]8922 [l][i]Python bivittatus[/i] (Burmese python; 51%) [r]Turkey (100%) [r]C (89%)
[l]Reptiles [l]specimens [r]5807 [l][i]Alligator mississippiensis[/i] (American alligator; 100%) [r]Turkey (95%) [r]W (100%)
[l]Reptiles [l]live [r]2882 [l][i]Iguana iguana[/i] (97%) [r]Turkey (100%) [r]C (98%)

Additional details on imports of candidate countries can be found here.