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Markets on Myanmar border are illegal trade gateway for tiger parts

By Julian Jackson - 19 Nov 2010 9:0:1 GMT
Markets on Myanmar border are illegal trade gateway for tiger parts

Black markets along Myanmar, Thailand and China's shared borders play a crucial role facilitating the deadly illicit trade in tigers and other endangered species, according to a report published by TRAFFIC the wildlife trade monitoring network and WWF today.

Many awe-inspiring but endangered wild cats including tigers, leopards, and even a rare Asiatic lion were observed being kept in captivity, and many more were killed for their heads, skins, paws or other parts.

"With as few as 3,200 wild tigers worldwide, the ongoing large-scale trade cannot be taken lightly. Illegal trade poses the most immediate and dire threat to the survival of tigers. Moreover, it puts all Asia's big felines at serious risk," noted TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Regional Director, William Schaedla. "Wildlife laws in Myanmar and Thailand clearly prohibit trafficking in tigers and other big cats. We urge authorities to bring the full weight of the law to bear upon traffickers."

The tiger population in this area of southeast asia, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, has plumetted from an estimated 1,200 in 1998 to about 350 today.

A critical part of saving wild tigers must be to shut down the illegal trade in tiger parts,” said Michael Baltzer, head of WWF's Tigers Alive initiative. "With all the tiger range countries convening this month in Russia for a groundbreaking summit on the future of the tiger, illegal trade such as this must stay front and centre in the negotiations."

Provincial markets and retail outlets at the Myanmar towns of Mong La, near the China border and Tachilek, on the Thai border, were found to play a pivotal role in the large scale distribution of big cat parts including whole skins, bones, paws, penises, and teeth.

The products are transported by road and sea into China and Thailand or sold to Chinese nationals who cross the Myanmar border to gamble and consume exotic wildlife. As these areas are outside Myanmar government control, organised crime is rife, and also resistance groups hunt tigers to raise money for their struggle for political independence. However, they would stop doing this if there was no market for the end-products of big cat killing.

To download the report visit: The Big Cat Trade in Myanmar and Thailand

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Topics: Wildlife Articles / Tiger Articles / Endangered Species Articles