Taxidermy and the law (Endangered species)

If you are intending to sell or buy a rare or endangered taxidermy animal or any part of such an animal (e.g. furs, tortoiseshell etc.) it is important that you are fully aware of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) because the penalties for breaking this law can be severe.

What is CITES?

CITES is an international agreement made between governments that restrict the trade of a wide range of wildlife, including animals, birds and reptiles in order to protect populations that could be threatened by excessive trading. 180 countries have signed the Convention worldwide. The agreement currently offers protection for over 35,000 species (including plants and trees). Although many of the animals on the list are not currently classed as endangered, the regulations are in place to ensuring sustainable trading and to protect the survival of those species.

The licensing authority responsible for CITES is the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) which is itself an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

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What does the law say?

Within the European Union

The CITES regulations contain four Annexes (A, B, C and D) which offer varying levels of protection for the animals listed within. Annex A are the most restricted species, while trade of those in Annex B are still restricted, but less so etc.

Outside of the EU

In order to legally buy or sell an animal listed on Annex A or B to any country outside of the EU, you will require an import or export certificate issued by APHA.

Further restrictions on sale

CITES impose further restrictions on specimens contained on Annex A (which lists the most endangered species) and states that the item advertised for sale must have a sales certificate issued under Article 10 of the EU Regulations. This applies to many of breeds of tortoises, reptiles, parrots and birds of prey.

There are two different types of Article 10 certificate.

  • Transaction Specific Certificate (TSC) which is valid only for the person named on the certificate

  • Specimen Specific Certificate (SSC) which is valid for anyone who possesses the specimen and must be passed on to any new owner

Article 10 certificates can have additional conditions placed upon them which may specify that the specimen can't be moved or sold. In addition to this, the specimen must be uniquely marked, for example with a ring, tag, tattoo, microchip etc., and this mark is recorded on the Article 10 certificate.

Annex B specimens can be traded as long as they were legally imported into the EU in the first place. Police, UK Border Force and Wildlife Inspectorate enforce the legislation that applies in the UK.

Antique taxidermy

If the item was made prior to 3rd March 1947 it does not need a certificate (providing there is clear evidence of this available). It is the sellers' responsibility for obtaining the certificate, or for providing the documentary evidence of the age of the item.

What animals are protected?

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There are far too many animals to be listed individually here. For more information, you should look at:

Are you thinking about buying an endangered animal?

We try not to get involved in any taxidermy that falls into protected categories because it's just too much hassle for us. However, if you are looking to buy an animal/plant specimen you should firstly check to see if the species is listed under CITES Annex A. You can easily check this by entering the species name into https://www.speciesplus.net or by viewing the list of species https://cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php

You will also need to check if the seller is located in Europe (you may need additional import/export permits if they not) and that they have the required Article 10 sales certificate. If the specimen originally came from outside Europe then the buyer should also get proof that the specimen was legally imported. Make sure you get the original copy of the Article 10 certificate as proof of your 'legal acquisition' of the specimen.

To buy or sell an Annex A specimen without an Article 10 sales certificate is an offence. You should never buy any specimen where the seller says they have an Article 10 certificate but will not show it to you, or says they will send it on to you later.

Further information

If you need more information on CITES, you can contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency