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Wednesday
Oct152008

Tiger and other cat parts on open sale in Myanmar

TRAFFIC surveys found parts of Tigers and other wild cat species openly on sale in Myanmar, with some dealers claiming their Tiger parts originated in India Click photo to enlarge © Chris Shepherd / TRAFFIC Southeast Asia   Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 15 October 2008—Skin and bones, canines and claws from almost 1,200 wild cats were observed in Myanmar’s wildlife markets during 12 surveys undertaken by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. They included parts of at least 107 Tigers and all eight cat species native to Myanmar.

Irregular surveys over the last 15 years have recorded a total of 1,320 wild cat parts, representing a minimum of 1,158 individual animals.

“Although almost 1,200 cats were recorded, this can only be the tip of the iceberg,” said Chris Shepherd, Programme Co-ordinator for TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia office.

“The cat parts were openly displayed for sale and the dealers quite frank about the illegality of the trade, which suggests a serious lack of law enforcement.”

People from neighbouring countries are the main buyers of these parts, as reflected by the locations of the markets—three of the four markets surveyed were located on international borders with China and Thailand. Prices were quoted in Thai or Chinese currency, or even US Dollars.

“The sale of endangered cat parts, including Tigers of which only about 4,000 remain, is an appalling and brazen violation of the law in Myanmar and should not be tolerated,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF International’s Species Programme.

“Most of these species have very low population numbers and will not be able to withstand the amount of poaching that is feeding this trade.”

National legislation in Myanmar is imprecise as to how many cat species are totally protected, but at least five are. Native cats comprise Tiger, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Marbled Cat, Asiatic Golden Cat, Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat and Jungle Cat. Five of them are listed in Appendix I of CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which bans international trade. Myanmar has been a signatory to CITES since 1997.

“Myanmar has an amazing wealth and variety of wildlife. However, immediate action to close down these markets and prosecute those engaged in the trade of protected wildlife is essential,” said Shepherd, adding that national legislation needed to be tightened and better cross-border co-operation with neighbouring countries, particularly Thailand and China was needed.

Myanmar is a member of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), a partnership that seeks to end illegal cross-border wildlife trade in the region.

The findings are published today in The trade in wild cats and wild cat parts in Myanmar (PDF, 1.1 MB)

For further information:
Chris R. Shepherd, Senior Programme Officer for TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (in Malaysia) tel: +603 78803940, cell: +6 012 234 0790, E-mail: cstsea@po.jaring.my

Richard Thomas, Communications Co-ordinator, TRAFFIC. Tel: +44 1223 279068, mob + 44 752 6646 216. E-mail: richard.thomas@traffic.org

Sarah Janicke, Species Communications Manager, WWF, Tel: +41 22 3649250, Mobile: +41 79 528 8641, E-mail: sjanicke@wwfint.org

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