About 3,500 delegates attended in South Africa the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).

With venue in the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg city, the meeting, which started Saturday, known as COP17 will be extended until next October 5.

Among the participants there are ministers and government representatives from the member countries of the Cites and non-governmental organizations and civil society.

The aforementioned convention regulates international trade of more than 35,000 species of plants and animals, including products and derivatives thereof, in order to ensure their survival in the wild and benefit the livelihood of local populations and the world environment.

‘The sustainability of trade is essential in order to safeguard these resources for the future’, noted the Presidency yesterday in a statement.

South Africa offered to host COP17 of Cites, in the similar meeting held in March 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.

So it will be the fourth conference of its kind held on the African continent since 1975, and the first since 2000.

The meeting will give the possibility to the rainbow nation to show its rich biodiversity and conservation initiatives based on sustainable use practices.

In addition, South Africa will emphasize the negative impact of illegal wildlife trade.

Some topics expected on the agenda are poaching of elephants; and illegal trade of rhinos horns and pangolins.

South Africa was one of the first signatories of the Cites in 1975 and is still playing an active role in the implementation of the Convention.