Saving endangered species has been on the global policy making agenda at least since 1963, when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature drafted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which took effect in 1975.
The African elephant became the face of this movement, as the number of these majestic animals living in the wild plunged by more than half during the half century to 1989, as they were hunted for their ivory. In October of that year, a ban on the ivory trade was agreed, taking effect the following January. Although there remains some illegal poaching, especially to meet demand from China, the policy is generally regarded as successful in that the wild elephant population has stabilized.
There has been growing momentum behind broader policy making efforts to save species facing the possibility of extinction. 2011-2020 was the UN Decade on Biodiversity, drawing attention to the escalating rate of species extinction, and is expected to lead to the agreement of tough new targets for species conservation at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP in Kunming, China, in March 2021.