Closing a Deadly Gateway
Black markets along Myanmar, Thailand and China’s shared borders play a crucial role in facilitating the deadly illicit trade in tigers and other endangered species, according to a new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and TRAFFIC report in the lead up to the Global Tiger Forum taking place November 21-24 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The report, The Big Cat Trade in Myanmar and Thailand, documents black market sales of large wild felines. Hundreds of tiger and leopard parts, representing over 400 individual animals, were observed during nearly a decade of investigations in Myanmar and Thailand. Live big cats, including endangered tigers and a rare Asiatic lion were also observed in trade.
The report is accompanied by a short documentary, Closing a Deadly Gateway, which illustrates the illegal trade described in the report. The film features interviews with poachers as well as alarming footage of butchered tigers.
“With as few as 3,200 wild tigers worldwide, the ongoing large-scale trafficking documented in this report is having a disastrous impact on tigers and other big cats. Lack of good governance goes hand in hand with the corruption that is allowing this illegal trade gateway to act like floodgates, spilling out the lifeblood of the forest,” said Crawford Allan, director TRAFFIC North America. “Wildlife laws in Myanmar and Thailand clearly prohibit trafficking in tigers and other big cats. These areas need enforcement crackdowns to clean up this criminal mess and bring the full weight of the law to bear upon traffickers.”
Provincial markets and retail outlets located in 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 to consume exotic wildlife.
“The area is struggling with governance, and tigers are easy money for everyone from mafia types to anti-government opposition groups,” said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Director, William Schaedla. “Some of these players should be countered with direct enforcement actions. Others might be receptive to work through regional agreements and international bodies in order to address the problem.”
(From Big Cat News)
To download the report visit:
High-res photos from the report visit:
Closing the Deadly Gateway on You Tube (this is the full documentary with narration and subtitles):
Clips from the film Closing the Deadly Gateway (this is the full documentary with no narration or subtitles, natural sound:
B-roll footage of tigers and tiger trade: