Illegal take and trade in wild species

Illegal take and trade in wild plant and animal species is a significant issue in most parts of the world.

On this page

The problem

According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES(external link)), international trade in wild species is estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

This trade can include anything from live animals and plants to animal and plant products like food, exotic leather goods, wooden items, and medicines. Whilst not all wildlife species in trade are endangered, laws and regulations exist to ensure the survival of species to protect these resources for future generations.

Committed to prevention

New Zealand is a Party to CITES along with 183 other countries. Under CITES, countries commit to ensuring, through domestic legislation and international cooperation, regulation of species threatened by unsustainable trade.

The New Zealand Government also works to include trade and environment cooperation arrangements in New Zealand’s international trade agreements and this allows for free and frank dialogue and cooperation activities between parties on environmental and conservation issues.

Ensuring products were legally obtained and traded

If you are an importer, you are encouraged to check that the product was legally obtained in the country of origin. This can be done by checking the country’s relevant government agency website, reviewing the country’s domestic legislation and talking with suppliers.

If you have any concerns about the legality of the product, you are encouraged to not purchase the product from that supplier. If any illegal activity is suspected, you are advised to inform the relevant conservation authority in the country of origin.

If the product you are  importing is included on the CITES species checklist(external link), you should contact the Department of Conservation to find out what permits or certificates may be needed for importation. These vary depending on the species and country of origin. New Zealand requires permits or certificates for CITES-listed species from all countries, not just those who have joined CITES.

Visitors to New Zealand must comply

Domestic laws and regulations that outline what species can be obtained legally in New Zealand, and/ or the conditions in which they can legally be taken include:

Those intending to hunt and fish in New Zealand, can visit the Department of Conservation(external link), the Ministry for Primary Industries(external link) and the Fish & Game(external link) websites to find out which species you can hunt and fish, and the conditions for taking those species.

Note that permits may also be needed to collect New Zealand’s native species or to take them out of the country – even items collected on a beach or used for research. Please contact the Department of Conservation for more information.

Further information


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