Should CITES trade restricted species be obscured even if LC?

Header says it all. Discuss…

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No - at a quick look the list includes for example all cetacean, cat, otter and bear species, Peregrine Falcon, all crane species, all crocodilians, all orchids. But it would be a good source to look for things that should be obscured and currently aren’t.


Why would them be? If they’re in the wild the observation itself doesn’t affect the organism, if someone wants to poach it and trade then the person will find it anyway if it’s LC chances are high for that person to find one without iNat.

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OK - maybe a better way of putting it is should a CITES listing be an appropriate justification for obscuring a specific species, even if LC or it does not have an IUCN rank?

The basis for my question was I was doing some curating today on some Tarantulas. All the ones I worked on were CITES listed, because they are at serious risk of getting nabbed for the pet trade, but several are still classed as LC or do not have a classification.


Under that approach why not simply remove all obscuring from the system?

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If your best judgement is that there is a risk from open locations I’d say they should be obscured. IUCN and CITES statuses are one piece of information there, but I don’t think there should be any “rules” - there are probably some species with no status of any kind anywhere that should be obscured.

Ideally someone familiar with the specific species in question would be able to make the determination, but absent that a CITES listing + a dash of common sense seems a perfectly reasonable reason to obscure something.


There’s a difference between LC and threatened species, CITES has too many species that shouldn’t be obscured. iNat is not a trading platform after all, so I don’t get your comment.

I think that could be part of a discussion for obscuring, but not a sole criterion. It would obscure tons of species, so it isn’t viable to obscure based solely on CITES trade restrictions.


Well said @reuvenm and @cthawley - I agree with both of you.

With global conservation statuses (such as CITES) and our Curator Guide as guidelines, I think we always need to ask the question, does knowledge of exact iNaturalist locations pose a credible threat to this species? If it doesn’t, but we obscure them anyway, we might be doing more harm than good for conservation of the species.

I will add that the answer to this question may vary by nation or other jurisdiction, and it is possible to obscure in some areas and not others based on the same global status. One just has to make more than one status entry for the taxon for that status, and select obscure or open accordingly.


Yes this is possible but until the site gets serious about implementing national or lower conservation statuses outside of North America it is not viable outside of one off cases. Asking curators to manually one at a time add hundreds if not thousands of entries from national red lists is not realistic.


This must be solved soon, in Colombia the Humboldt repository in its publication of the Red Book of Plants of Colombia marks a large number of endemic orchids as “endangered” due to factors such as agriculture, livestock and deforestation but mainly due to the orchid collectors. A few days ago someone commented in an observation of Masdevallia coccinea that this species was in great danger of extinction due to orchid collectors, this worried me a lot because I have made some observations of this orchid near the city and next to busy trails, then, if INat keeps the geographic coordinates of these and other observations of nearby municipalities public, it could increase the risk that collectors find it.

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Better make a flag under this orchid species and ask curators to list it as EG in the area.

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I already did it. See the flag.

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While the flag is not resolved you can hide locations of your observations manaually if you haven’t done it yet!

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I’ve obscured it, but this is not an effective way to do this, there are hundreds of species just in that one red list that are not IUCN evaluated at nationally defined as at risk.

It needs to be centrally managed and done under a consistent framework

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Well, as already was discussed in another thread Red Books and Red Lists (at least national level) should be added to iNat, seeing Black Stork unobscured is no less weird than some orchids.

Here in South Africa, many plant species that are severely threatened by human activity (not necessarily trading as such) are not labelled as such in observations, nor are their locations obscured

To remedy this, iNat should ideally be in sync with the status classifications of not only international bodies such as CITES, but also individual State Biodiversity institutions. A South African example would be SANBI