Greatest threat to Asia's wildlife is hunting, scientists say

ill be left are silent forests, empty of the birds and mammals that are critical to the health of the forest," added Dr. Madhu Rao, co-organizer of the workshop.

Throughout the 1980's and 1990's many conservationists and development experts argued that sustainable use of wildlife would lead to its conservation. But recent data show that Wildlife trade is rampant, and often uncontrolled, across South and Southeast Asia. That hunting and wildlife trade can lead to extinction of wildlife species is a real, not a theoretical problem.

Some examples: hunting has put half of Asia's turtles on the endangered species list, and threatens tigers and their prey across the continent. Over a million kilograms (more than 2 million pounds) of snakes are imported to Shanghai, China, each year serving as a luxury food item for that city's burgeoning middle class. The international trade in birds is astonishing in its scale, with over 350,000 sold in a Jakarta, Indonesia market annually, and 276 species sold annually in Bangkok's Weekend Market.

For those people in Asia who still rely on wildlife for their daily protein, uncontrolled trade is threatening their livelihoods, according to WCS. Trans-boundary trade in wildlife threatens food security in parts of the Lao People's Democratic Republic. In a single province in Laos, $3.6 million of wildlife is exported annually, including pangolins, cats, bears and primates (Lao PDR GNP is U.S. $1 billion).

Immediate action is needed to ensure the survival of Asia's wildlife, and Asia' forests. Wildlife Conservation Society workshop participants made three core recommendations:

  • Every country in the region (except Lao PDR) is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Governments must renew their commitment to meeting their treaty obligations under CITES.

  • Commercial trade of wildlife must be severely restricted or eliminated across much of the region, t

Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

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