WWF Concern at Black Market Tiger Trade

Posted on November 18th 2010

WWF charity officials are concerned that the shared border between Myanmar, Thailand and China are fast becoming the home for the illicit trade in tiger parts and other endangered species. A report conducted by WWF and TRAFFIC in the lead up to next week’s International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg, Russia, showed that live big cats were available for sale on the black market. Amongst the animals available were endangered tigers and even a rare Asiatic lion, along with hundreds of tiger and leopard parts.

Below is a slideshow of some of the disturbing pictures taken whilst making the report –

TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Regional Director, William Schaedla, said –

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. 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.

Provincial markets and retailers near the China and Thai borders, were found to be key players in the distribution of big cat parts with products being transported by road and sea. Meanwhile, tiger numbers in the Greater Mekong area have fallen to as little as 350 in the last 12 years from an estimated 1,200. Much of the illegal trade occurs in non government controlled areas of northern Myanmar and southern China, with little recrimination and high profit margins for the black market trade. Representatives from Myanmar, China, and Thailand are expected to be at the International Tiger Forum in Russia next week, and must be pressed about what they intend to do about this dreadful business that is happening right under their noses.

Coordinator for WWF Greater Mekong tiger conservation, Peter Cutter, said –

There is an urgent need to step up efforts if the region is to save its declining tiger populations. We need to enhance information gathering and ensure government and non-government agencies share information in transparent and timely ways from the local level to the regional scale. Alarmingly, the landscape between Myanmar and Thailand holds the greatest hope for tiger population recovery in this region but this can only happen if there are unprecedented and co-ordinated regional efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade.

These countries need to be taken to task by International Tiger Forum host, Russian Prime Minister Valdimir Putin, about how they plan to tackle the black market distribution of this terrible trade within their countries. Maybe someone should show then the pictures that WWF have captured to show them that what is happening is not a disgrace, but also pushing the tiger ever closer to extinction.


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