Five species of shark and several species of manta rays, turtles, and tortoises were among the species added to a watch list by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) where Dr. Andrea Easter-Pilcher, Chair of the Department of Biology, Ecology and Conservation at St. George’s University participated as part of a three member delegation representing Grenada at the annual meeting this March.
“My professional career has focused on population biology and population genetics of endangered species as well as ecosystem restoration across the globe,” said Dr. Easter-Pilcher. “It was extremely gratifying to be in a position to assess levels of risk for dozens of species and based on that risk, to participate in putting regulatory mechanisms in place that have the potential to positively impact hundreds of species across the globe.”
CITES is an international agreement between more than 178 countries to ensure that international trade of wild animal and plant specimens does not threaten their survival. The agreement provides protection against over-exploitation for more than 35,000 CITES-listed plants and animals.
Dr. Easter-Pilcher worked with convention delegates to respond to proposals, where the delegation voted to add 343 species to the watch list and whose trade must be controlled to ensure their survival. This list includes five species of sharks, and several species of manta rays, turtles and tortoises, and the Mangshan pit viper. Rosewoods and ebonies from Asia, Central America and Madagascar were also brought under the regulations of CITES. Additionally, four species were identified as endangered and threatened with extinction, including the African manatee and the freshwater sawfish.
“The impact of the conference is felt on a global scale because international trade decisions are made,” said Dr. Easter-Pilcher. “As a delegate at this convention, it provided me with an opportunity to share Grenada’s position on international conservation and natural resource issues on a world stage. It’s an honor to lend a voice to this international community on behalf of Grenada.”
Dr. Andrea Easter-Pilcher is a conservation and wildlife biologist whose research has focused on improving the long-term viability of threatened species and ecosystems around the world. She has conducted conservation and wildlife biology research efforts in Russia, Antarctica, the United States and now Grenada.