Trafficking of tiger parts is rife in Myanmar
October 15, 2008
Surveys conducted by TRAFFIC over the past 15 years have turned up 1,320 wild cat parts from at least 1,158 individual animals, including 107 tigers. The group says the toll in the country is far higher.
"Although almost 1,200 cats were recorded, this can only be the tip of the iceberg," said Chris Shepherd, Programme Co-ordinator for TRAFFIC's Southeast Asia office. "The cat parts were openly displayed for sale and the dealers quite frank about the illegality of the trade, which suggests a serious lack of law enforcement."
Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis and juvenile Leopard Panthera pardus skins displayed at a stall in Tachilek. Chris R. Shepherd/TRAFFIC Southeast Asia
TRAFFIC says the main markets for the wildlife parts are overseas, notably China.
While the findings are discouraging for conservationists, they indicate the pressure on the government to enforce existing wildlife laws could be an effect way to clamp down on the illegal market.
“Myanmar has an amazing wealth and variety of wildlife," said Shepherd. "However, immediate action to close down these markets and prosecute those engaged in the trade of protected wildlife is essential."
Five of Myanmar's cat species are listed in Appendix I of CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which bans international trade. Myanmar joined CITES in 1997.
CHRIS R. SHEPHERD and VINCENT NIJMAN (2008). THE WILD CAT TRADE IN MYANMAR. A TRAFFIC SOUTHEAST ASIA REPORT