© Chris Shepherd / TRAFFIC
Myanmar: A Gateway for Tiger Trade

Illegal wildlife trade continues in Myanmar

Myanmar, positioned between China, Thailand, India and Bangladesh, has become known as one of the most notorious countries in the trade of wildlife products.

A recent study of two border towns in Myanmar has shown the trade in tiger parts and other cat species has increased from Myanmar into China while the trade into Thailand has decreased over recent years. The article was written by Dr. Chris R. Shepherd Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, and Dr. Vincent Nijman, Professor of Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University and published in Biological Conservation.

Most of the wild cat parts on sale in the border towns of Tachilek and Mong La were claws, skulls, canine teeth and skins. In total, over two thousand parts were recorded during the surveys.

The authors argue the decrease in parts found in Tachilek, may be due to greater enforcement action in neighboring Thailand. Increases in the Myanmar-Chinese border town of Mong La may be linked to the rising buying power of China’s consumers and the apparent ease of smuggling illegal wildlife parts into the country.

Wildlife products
© Dr Vincent Nijman

"With little or no enforcement in Tachilek and Mong La it’s open season for wildlife traffickers" - Dr. Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director – TRAFFIC, South East Asia.

Illegal wildlife traders in both Tachilek and Mong La claimed tiger and leopard parts were mainly sourced from Myanmar and India. However previous studies reported parts, particularly in Tachilek, also originated from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The authors urged more effective enforcement and prosecution of wildlife criminals in Myanmar and called on neighboring countries, especially China, to allocate more resources to increase existing efforts to clamp down on illegal wildlife trade.

It’s time for the relevant enforcement authorities to live up to their international commitments to address wildlife crime” Dr. Vincent Nijman, Professor of Anthropology - Oxford Brookes University

This research is just one of the recent stories coming to light that demonstrate more than ever a need for Zero Poaching if important keystone species, such as the tiger, are to survive on this planet.

In February this year, one of the most significant anti-poaching meetings ever held took place in Nepal. The ‘Symposium: Towards Zero Poaching in Asia' was hosted by the Nepal Government and among many important topics on the agenda, improvements to law enforcement was discussed.

For a full report on the findings of the study please visit TRAFFIC’s website.