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Tough penalties for organized smuggling gang

Some of the 480 bear paws seized in August 2007: the smuggling gang involved received jail sentences of up to 8 years   Click photo to enlarge © TRAFFIC
Moscow, 30 May 2008—The Primorskii regional court has handed out stiff penalties on six men—three each from China and the Russian Federation—after they were found guilty of attempting to smuggle bear paws, Amur Tiger and other wildlife parts from the Russian Far East into China.

Their arrest, in August 2007, followed a six month operation by Customs and the Frontier Service in the Russian Far East Primorskii Province which uncovered the entire smuggling chain, from source to destination.

In total around 900 bear paws of Brown and Asiatic Black Bears, 4 Amur Tiger skins, more than 60 kg of Tiger bones and 531 Saiga horns were involved. TRAFFIC and WWF experts were asked for independent evaluations of the confiscated wildlife products, and estimated the commercial value to be more than USD200,000.

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ASEAN wildlife crime task forces meet in Lao PDR

Delegates to the ASEAN-WEN meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR, discussed how to suppress illegal wildlife trade in the region. Click photo to enlarge © TRAFFIC  
Vientiane, 28 May 2008—Members of ASEAN-WEN, the world's largest wildlife law enforcement network, gathered in Vientiane this week to map out the next steps to suppress the rampant wildlife crime in Southeast Asia, which is robbing the region of its rich biodiversity and natural resources.

The meeting brought together police, Customs and Environmental Officers from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam and hosts Lao PDR to review progress in implementing the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN). Delegates from the USA, New Zealand, Interpol and the CITES Secretariat also attended.

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Well-managed wildlife trade can benefit poor communities—TRAFFIC, WWF

The marine aquarium trade provides income for poor people in coastal communities where few other livelihood options exist and earnings can be substantial. Click photo to enlarge ©Tantyo Bangun / WWF-Canon 
Bonn, Germany, 24 May 2008—Well-managed wildlife trade has the potential to deliver significant development benefits for the world’s poor, finds a new report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, and WWF.

Trading Nature: the contribution of wildlife trade management to sustainable livelihoods and the Millennium Development Goals (PDF, 3.1 MB) shows that wildlife trade offers opportunities to the poor and benefits to local communities, but these are threatened when illegal or unsustainable trade is allowed to flourish.

The legal, international trade in wild plants and animals and the products derived from them was estimated as worth close to USD300 billion in 2005, based on declared import values—and the value is rising.

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Ginseng smuggling ringleader jailed for four years

Part of the massive haul of Wild Ginseng seized in the Russian Far East Click photo to enlarge © TRAFFIC  
A former police officer and ringleader of a ginseng smuggling operation has been jailed for 4 years for his part in the illegal transportation of more than 3,000 Wild Ginseng roots from the Russian Federation to China.

The arrest came following two majors seziures of Wild Ginseng in August and October 2007 by the Russian Federation’s Far Eastern Operative Customs. A total of 29 kg of Wild Ginseng, comprising 3,142 roots, was recovered.

The verdict was handed out by Pogranichny District Court in Primorsky province of the Russian Federation on 15 May. An accomplice received a 2 year jail sentence.

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Therapy for Medicinal Plants

TRAFFIC promotes joint project "Saving Plants that Save Lives and Livelihoods" at the Ninth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Bonn, Germany, 19 May 2008—A “Saving Plants that Save Lives and Livelihoods” initiative is demonstrating how implementation of international standards can ensure the sustainability of medicinal plant supplies.

 Healing Power from Nature: a new film explains the ISSC-MAP initiative (running time 6 minutes)

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TRAFFIC opens Central African programme office

Left to right: Bihini Won Wa Musiti, Head of IUCN’s Central African Programme, Steven Broad, Executive Director, TRAFFIC, and Laurent Somé, Regional Director of WWF’s Central African Programme Click photo to enlarge © TRAFFIC
en Français

Yaoundé, Cameroon, 17 May 2008—After several years of providing remote assistance on wildlife trade priority issues to countries in Central Africa, TRAFFIC has established an operational base in the region through the opening of a programme office in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital.

Hosted by IUCN, the new TRAFFIC Central Africa programme office will focus on the trade in wild meat—a vulnerable resource in the Congo Basin, on good timber trade governance, and on closing down illegal domestic ivory markets and ivory smuggling routes.

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Monkey business threatens macaques

Immediate action is required to stop the poaching of Barbary Macaques in North Africa for the illegal pet trade to Europe Click photo to enlarge  ©Michel Gunther / WWF-Canon
Cambridge, UK, 1 May 2008—The Barbary Macaque Macaca sylvanus is declining because of habitat loss and demand for the illegal pet trade, according to a paper published in the latest issue of the TRAFFIC Bulletin, the only scientific journal to focus on wildlife trade issues.

The illegal macaque trade became apparent in the late 1990s, after zoological parks and sanctuaries in Europe noticed a significant increase in numbers of Barbary Macaques offered to zoos by ex-owners or seized by law enforcement authorities, mainly in France, Belgium, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. The trade in Barbary Macaques is illegal in Morocco without a permit, although the laws are poorly enforced. The EU has suspended imports of wild macaques since 2000.

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Brunei Darussalam hosts wildlife trade workshop

A wildlife trade workshop takes place in Brunei Darussalam this week, home to commercially important wildlife species, like the Hill Mynah. © Gernof Baurle  Click photo to enlarge
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, 29 April 2008—The Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry & Primary Resources, this week hosts Brunei Darussalam’s first Wildlife Trade Regulation training workshop as part of the country’s commitment to tackle organized poaching and trafficking of wild animals and plants in Southeast Asia.

Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Hamid bin Haji Mohd Jaafar, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, during his opening address, said that the workshop was relevant to the policies of the Government of Brunei Darussalam relating to the conservation of biodiversity, industry and sustainable use.

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Bangkok market a hub for illegal international trade in freshwater turtles and tortoises

Radiated Tortoise Astrochelys radiata was the most numerous species observed during TRAFFIC's surveys in Chatuchak Market. The species is listed in Appendix I of CITES, yet is readily available and openly sold in Thailand. © Chris R. Shepherd TRAFFIC Southeast Asia  Click photo to enlarge
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 25 April 2008—Thailand is a major hub for the international trade in illegal freshwater turtles and tortoises, finds a new report, Pet freshwater turtle and tortoise trade in Chatuchak Market, Bangkok, Thailand, launched today by TRAFFIC, the wildlife monitoring network, a joint programme of WWF and IUCN.

Surveys of Chatuchak Market (also known as the JJ or Weekend Market) by TRAFFIC investigators found that 25 out of 27 freshwater turtle and tortoise species for sale were non-native, the vast majority of them illegally imported into the country.

“Dealers stated openly that many specimens were smuggled into and out of Thailand,” said Chris R. Shepherd, Senior Programme Officer for TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. “They even offered potential buyers advice on how to smuggle reptiles through customs and onto aeroplanes.”

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