Species valuation

The EU ranks as the top global importer by value for many wildlife commodities such as caviar, tropical timber, reptiles and reptile skins[1]. The value of EU wildlife imports was estimated at approximately EUR93 billion for 2005 (including timber and fisheries), with trade in live animals and animal products (for clothing, food and ornamental purposes) worth EUR900 million[1]. However, these estimates do not differentiate the value of trade in CITES-listed and non-CITES taxa. This is the first assessment to determine the monetary value of EU imports of CITES-listed species and uses a preliminary methodology developed by UNEP-WCMC to calculate the value of CITES-listed specimens imported by the EU in 2010.

1.       Methodology

To estimate the value of CITES-listed animal imports for all EU Member States, EU-reported import volumes (extracted from the CITES Trade Database) and species-specific value data submitted to United States Customs (included in the United States annual report to CITES) were used for calculations. The median price, based on the United States data, for each family/unit/source/term/Appendix combination was multiplied by the corresponding EU-reported trade volume to obtain a total value for CITES-listed EU imports. Valuation of EU plant imports could not be undertaken as there was no species-specific price dataset with adequate coverage available at the time of analysis. Wildlife commodities (re-)exported by the EU were also not included in the analysis.

Further details of the methodology, along with caveats to this approach, are available here.

2.       Overall value of EU imports of CITES-listed animal species in 2010

The value of CITES-listed animals and animal products imported by the EU in 2010 was estimated at a staggering USD3.5 billion (USD3,550,165,163 or ~EUR2.8 billion[2]).

The vast majority of this value (USD3.1 billion) is represented by trade in a single family and trade term: extract from species of the family Acipenseridae, or caviar extract. This commodity is imported in very small volumes, and is used in cosmetics, luxury moisturising creams and skincare preparations for its purported anti-aging properties. It is unclear whether the declared prices in the United States dataset represent the actual price for the extract in its natural form, or whether this value represents the luxury commodity that contains the extract, however, caviar extract is known to be traded internationally in both forms. The remainder of this analysis excludes the extract (all of which was reported as Acipenseridae).

The monetary value of EU reported CITES-listed animal imports, excluding caviar extract, is estimated to be just over USD403 million (~EUR329 million) for 2010. The trade in reptiles accounted for 84% of the value of EU animal imports, reflecting the relatively high volume of EU imports of this group. The proportional value of key commodities imported by the EU in 2010 is summarised below. Almost half of the total estimated value was from leather products, and a further 35% was from skins. A significant proportion of the overall value of the trade to the EU therefore appears to be in high value, luxury goods.

Value (US$2010) of trade in commodities imported by the EU in 2010, including those commodities for which the value of trade exceeded 1 million US$ in 2010 (excluding caviar extract).

3.       Key commodities imported by the EU by value

LeatherSkinsLive AnimalsCaviarGarmentsOther

Leather products

The combined value of leather products (described as both small and large leather products) imported into the EU in 2010 was estimated to be over USD198 million (~EUR162 million). Imports of leather products derived from 16 families. Three reptile families were predominant in the leather goods trade by estimated economic value: Alligatoridae (67% of total value), Pythonidae (16%) and Crocodylidae (11%).


Skins were the second highest commodity imported into the EU by value in 2010 (excluding caviar extract). This trade was estimated to be worth close to USD140 million (~EUR114 million), with reptiles representing the majority of the estimated value (94%) and mammals comprising the remainder. The three most important reptile families by estimated economic value for the skin trade were identical to those for leather products, as was the order of their estimated economic importance. In addition, imports of reptile “sides” was worth an estimated USD3.2 million (~EUR2.6 million), and mammal “plates” an estimated USD2.7 million (~EUR2.2 million).

Live animals

The estimated value of live animal imports into the EU in 2010 was over USD19 million (~EUR15.8million). Mammals accounted for 59% of this total value, with Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys) being the predominant family represented. The live reptile trade was valued at USD4.3 million (~EUR3.5 million) and accounted for 22% of live imports by value. The key reptile families in trade, in order of estimated value for 2010 imports were: Pythonidae, Testudinidae, Geoemydidae, Boidae and Iguanidae. The value of live bird imports was low, accounting for less than USD1 million of the estimated total EU imports value.

The total value of imports of coral species of the class Anthozoa was relatively low (USD1.8 million or ~EUR1.5 million), even though live corals are imported in notably high volumes to the EU. Imports of the family Acroporidae accounted for approximately a third of the total value of live corals.

Proportion of EU value (US$2010) of 2010 imports of live animals by class. (‘Other’ includes Hirudinoidea, Bivalvia, Amphibia, Actinopterygii, Arachnida, Insecta and Hydrozoa.)


The EU has historically been, and continues to be, a key importer of caviar, which is a very low volume but high value product. Average prices calculated from the United States of America dataset indicated that values for both captive bred and wild caviar for combined species of the family Aciperseridae were relatively comparable; USD935/kg and USD1080/kg respectively. Imports of caviar into the EU were estimated to be worth almost USD18 million (~EUR14 million) in 2010, with over 90% of the value of caviar derived from captive-bred or captive-born specimens, approximately reflecting the proportion of actual volumes of trade.


The estimated value of garments derived from CITES-listed species imported into the EU in 2010 was USD11 million (~EUR9 million). For this specific derivative, trade in mammals was estimated to be the most economically important taxonomic group (USD9.5 million or ~EUR7.8 million) with 90% of that value represented by trade in Mustelidae (the main species imported to the EU are Mustela sibirica and Lonta canadensis). Two other families comprising a notable proportion of the value for trade in garments were Tayassuidae (peccaries) and Crocodylidae.

Other parts and derivatives

The estimated value of a number of other parts and derivatives imported into the EU in 2010 is also worth noting. Meat imports totalled an estimated USD4.5 million (~EUR3.7 million), with virtually all of this value involving trade in one species, Strombus gigas.

The trade in tusks to the EU was valued at an estimated USD2.1 million (~EUR1.7 million), mainly comprising tusks of Monodon monoceros. The only other part/derivatives imported by the EU at levels exceeding an estimated USD1 million in 2010 was hair; with imports mainly comprising species of the family Mustelidae.

4.       Value by Appendix

Perhaps unsurprisingly, over 96% of the estimated value of CITES-listed trade into the EU in 2010 involved taxa listed in Appendix II (USD389 million or ~EUR318 million)[3]. However, both Appendix I and III taxa were also imported at levels which, in total, exceeded an estimated USD1 million and USD13 million, respectively.

Proportion of EU value (US$2010) of 2010 imports of live animals and animals products by CITES Appendix.

The estimated values of EU imports of Appendix-I listed mammals, birds and reptiles in 2010 were relatively comparable. The commodities that represented the largest proportion of this value were, for mammals: live specimens of Ursidae, trophies of Felidae and live Elephantidae; for birds: live specimens of the family Falconidae; and for reptiles, virtually all of the estimated value was derived from small leather products of the family Crocodylidae. Over 95% of the estimated value of Appendix III imports to the EU in 2010 was accounted for by trade in Mustelidae (garments, plates and hair).

Estimated value (US$ 2010) of classes of CITES Appendix I taxa imported to the EU in 2010.

5.       Value of EU trade in the context of global trade value

The estimated value of EU imports of CITES-listed animals (excluding caviar extract) of over USD403 million (~EUR329) for 2010, is consistent with estimates of the value of global exports of key trade terms for Appendix II animals (USD350-530 million per year for 2006-2010)[4]. However, it must be noted that these global estimates represent only a subset of the overall trade in CITES-listed species, and exclude many trade terms (such as extract), and all Appendix I and III species.

Further work is required to refine the methodology to produce an estimate of global trade value, to include all trade terms and CITES Appendices (as done for this analysis), and develop new methodologies for valuation of the trade in CITES-listed plants.

[1] Engler, M. and Parry-Jones, R. (2007). Opportunity or threat: the role of the European Union in global wildlife. TRAFFIC Europe, Brussels, Belgium.

[2] All Euro equivalent values throughout this section are based on an exchange rate of 0.819 EUR to 1 USD from XE.com on 3 August 2012.

[3] Excludes trade in caviar extract.

[4] UNEP-WCMC (2012). CITES Trade: recent trends in international trade in Appendix II-listed species (1996-2010). Prepared for the CITES Secretariat, Standing Committee, SC62 Inf. 7. http://www.cites.org/common/docs/Recent-trends-in-international-trade-in-Appendix-II-listed-species.pdf