Trafficking of tiger parts is rife in Myanmar
October 15, 2008
Trafficking of parts from endangered wild cats is rife in Myanmar (Burma) according to a new report from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.
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
“The sale of endangered cat parts, including tigers of which only about 4,000 remain, is an appalling and brazen violation of the law in Myanmar and should not be tolerated,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF International’s Species Programme. “Most of these species have very low population numbers and will not be able to withstand the amount of poaching that is feeding this trade.”
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