Latest news from TRAFFIC


Illegal trade devastates Sumatran orang-utan population

A Sumatran orang-utan confiscated in Aceh stares through the bars of its cage Click photo to enlarge © Chris R. Shepherd/TRAFFIC Southeast Asia  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Lack of law enforcement against illegal trade in Indonesia threatens the survival of orang-utans and gibbons on Sumatra, a new study by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC shows.

Despite considerable investment in wildlife conservation, numbers of the critically endangered orang-utans captured mainly for the pet trade exceeded the levels of the 1970s. A lack of adequate law enforcement is to blame, TRAFFIC says.

Records of orang-utans and gibbons put into rehabilitation centers serves as an indicator of how many of these animals were illegally held. Meanwhile numbers continue to decline in the wild, with the most recent estimate of just 7,300 Sumatran Orangutans surviving.

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ASEAN Countries Make Major Progress on Wildlife, Habitat Conservation

James Compton & Samir Sinha - TRAFFIC, presenting "What's Driving the Wildlife Trade?" study at International workshop in Pattaya. Click photo to enlargePattaya, Thailand, April 14, 2009 – In a major step forward, the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) conference concluded on April 12 with strong commitments by Asian governments and international partners to coordinate enforcement efforts in a concerted effort to halt wildlife crime and habitat depletion.

The agreement came at a meeting, “A Forgotten Crisis: Arresting Wildlife Depletion through Strengthened Partnerships and Regional  Cooperation,” that was held April 10-12 in Pattaya, Thailand.

ASEAN-WEN is the region’s largest environmental law-enforcement network. It links scores of environmental agencies, police organizations, customs bureaus and members of the judiciary from all 10 ASEAN member countries to share intelligence, conduct investigations, and train officers to combat wildlife trafficking and implement international and national laws regulating wildlife trade.

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Amur Leopard skin seized by Russian Police

The Amur Leopard skin seized by Russian police in Primorsky province; no more than 20 adult Amur Leopards are believed to exist, and this individual had apprently been shot. Click photo to enlarge © S. Aramilev / WWF Russia   Moscow, Russia, 7 April 2009—Police officers inspecting a car in Primorsky province in the Russian Far East have discovered the skin of an Amur Leopard, one of the world’s rarest animals.

Only an estimated 14 to 20 adult Amur Leopards and 5 or 6 cubs survive in an area of just 2,500 km² in Russia’s south-western Primorye region according to the IUCN Redlist. The subspecies is extinct in China and the Korean Peninsula.

The skin’s identity was confirmed by experts from the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine of the Primorsky State Agricultural Academy, experts from Primorsky province Hunting Department and WWF Russia.

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Kan EL-Roy Johnson (1966–2009)

Kan EL-Roy Johnson (1966–2009)  Click photo to enlarge   en Français

Douala, Cameroon, 6 April 2009—With the death of Kan El-Roy Johnson in March this year in Cameroon, TRAFFIC lost a valued colleague, whose time with us was all too brief.

Kan joined TRAFFIC in November 2008, and in the short time he was with us, had an enormous influence on TRAFFIC’s communications in the Central African region. For the first time, TRAFFIC was enabled to reach out to Francophone Africa from within the continent, particularly in Kan’s native Cameroon.

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Wild Boar meat seized in Malaysia

Malaysian authorities have seized a lorry-load of Wild Boar meat, believed to be from animals illegally trapped in Pahang State Click photo to enlarge   Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 3 April 2009—Four tonnes of Wild Boar carcasses have been seized from a lorry believed to be smuggling the meat from Malaysia to Thailand.

The carcasses which had been disemboweled, decapitated and cut in half, were found piled high in the back of the lorry which authorities flagged down on the evening of 1 April along a major highway in the Peninsular Malaysian state of Pahang.

News reports quoted State Wildlife and National Parks Department assistant director Ahmad Ikhwan Zainuddin saying the meat from about 150 head of Wild Boar was still fresh and could have been taken from the freezer for processing before it was transported.

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Turtles no longer turn to souvenirs in Dominican Republic

Illegal Hawksbill Turtle items recently confiscated by Dominican Republic authorities. A government-led crackdown has resulted in a 99% reduction in the availability of such tourist souvenirs Click photo to enlarge © Adrian Reuter / TRAFFIC North America   Gland, Switzerland/Washington, US—Critically Endangered Hawksbill Turtles are no longer being sold as tourist souvenirs in the Dominican Republic after a powerful government campaign cracked down on shops illegally trading such items. More than 99 percent of these souvenirs have been withdrawn or confiscated according to TRAFFIC, wildlife trade monitoring network.

A 2006 survey carried out by TRAFFIC found more than 23,000 items made from Hawksbill Turtles for sale. A February revisit of the same locations revealed a dramatic reduction with only 135 shell items.

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Pink or red?—experts debate corals’ future

Red coral items command high prices, but over-exploitation is placing many coral colonies at risk Click photo to enlarge © Crawford Allen / TRAFFIC   Hong Kong, China, 23 March, 2009—coral experts met last week in Hong Kong to discuss ways to stop the over-exploitation of pink and red corals in the world’s oceans.

Millions of items and thousands of kilograms of red and pink coral—those in the genus Corallium—are traded internationally each year as jewellery and in other collectables.

“Commercial harvest has been so extensive that it has decreased the genetic diversity in some populations of Corallium,” said Ernie Cooper of TRAFFIC North America.

“It has removed the large mature colonies, which may be hundreds of years old, and created populations dominated by small, immature colonies.”

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Metal detectors uncover hidden traps

Bandhavgarh forest guards receive training in the use of metal detectors to locate snares set for Tigers Click photo to enlarge © Samir Sinha / TRAFFIC India   New Delhi, India, 19 March 2009—A TRAFFIC India programme in co-operation with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is using a novel method to locate snares set to catch Tigers and other animals.

“Metal snares are often used to catch Tigers and other big cats, but they are almost impossible to find because they are cleverly camouflaged,” said Samir Sinha, Director of TRAFFIC India.

“However, by using Deep Search Metal Detectors, forest guards can now find even the most cleverly hidden traps,” he explained.

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Merbau records flawed

Merbau is a popular material for flooring, but there are concerns over the legality and sustainability of supplies © Greenpeace China Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 12 March 2009⎯Poor record keeping and illegal logging is raising concerns of over-exploitation of Merbau, finds a new report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

Merbau, a tropical hardwood, is popular in Europe and elsewhere as a flooring material. Roughly 30,000 cubic metres of Merbau timber entered the EU in 2005, half of it direct from Indonesia, the remainder from Malaysia and, after processing, from China.

Indonesia banned exports of round logs, including Merbau, in 2002 and does not issue export declaration forms, meaning all Merbau exports since then can be considered illegal.

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