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Asia's biodiversity vanishing into the marketplace

o reduce the illegal trade in their cities. Assisted by the NGO TRAFFIC, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur's airports have stepped up efforts to prevent transit of illegal wildlife.

The Malaysian state of Sarawak has taken it further. In 1998, the Government of Sarawak (Malaysia) banned all commercial wildlife trade throughout the state. To enforce this new policy, major legal changes were made to the existing Wild Life Protection Ordinance (1998), and gun owners were also restricted to cartridges purchases of 10/gun owner/month. Mass publicity, conservation education and enforcement programmes were then carried out repeatedly in the rural and urban areas. Within five years, all visible commercial wildlife trade disappeared from the major markets in the cities and smaller towns.

"The Sarawak case shows that it can be done," said Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Director of the Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Commercial wildlife trade can be curtailed through the combination of education programs, strong laws, and effective enforcement. In the last six months alone the Sarawak government has seized 457.1 kg of wild meat and 165 live animals--birds, primates, reptiles and fish--through its newly strengthened enforcement operations."

In addition to reducing the loss of the world's biodiversity, COP-7 will also address priority issues such as the biodiversity of mountain ecosystems, the role of protected areas in conserving biodiversity, and the transfer of technology and technology cooperation.

With the CBD's increasing emphasis on balancing protection with sustainable use of natural resources, the trade in wildlife must been seen for what it is: an unsustainable practice that is rapidly depleting Asia's forests, rivers and oceans.


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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
9-Feb-2004


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