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Latest news from TRAFFIC


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 More than 99 percent of these souvenirs have been withdrawn or confiscated according to TRAFFIC, wildlife trade monitoring network.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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Massive ivory seizure in Viet Nam

Part of the haul of 6.2 tonnes of ivory seized at the port of Hai Phong, Viet Nam Click photo to enlarge (c) Hai Phong Customs, Viet Nam  Hanoi, Viet Nam, 9 March 2009—Customs officers in Viet Nam’s northern port of Hai Phong have seized a huge consignment of more than 6 tonnes of elephant ivory, according to government sources. Vietnamese officials have described the seizure as “the biggest ivory haul ever in Vietnam.”

The ivory was apparently smuggled from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania to Malaysia, before arriving in Hai Phong aboard a Malaysian-flagged vessel. The illicit cargo was found hidden in boxes of plastic waste declared to be for recycling.

Last month, a TRAFFIC report revealed record prices for illegal ivory in Viet Nam, but it is not yet clear whether the tusks seized were to be sold in Viet Nam or were being smuggled in for onward movement.

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Boost for future Tigers

USD2.8 million has been committed to a new conservation initiative, Tiger Futures Click photo to enlarge © Roger Hooper / WWF-Canon   Cambridge, UK, 6 March 2009—The World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have announced the commitment of USD2.8 million to support Tiger Futures, a new project dedicated to conserving wild populations of Tigers. TRAFFIC is a partner in the project, which will be led by WCS.

Tiger Futures will complement World Bank initiatives to involve all Tiger range States in high-level discussions on tiger conservation. Building consensus to conserve Tigers is seen as essential to securing their sustainable, long-term future.

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Malaysian judiciary brush up on wildlife crime and punishment

Marine turtles are targetted by poachers in Malaysian waters Click photo to enlarge © WWF-Canon / Roger LeGUEN   Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 3 March 2009—The ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and the Federal Courts of Malaysia have organized a national judiciary workshop on wildlife crime and prosecution being held in Kuala Lumpur on March 3 and 4, 2009.

The workshop is co-sponsored by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and supported by the Federal Courts of Malaysia.

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Sweden stamps out illegal caviar

Better awareness and enforcement of regulations has led to a significant decline in illegal caviar trade in Sweden © Crawford Allen / TRAFFIC Cambridge, UK, 3 March 2009—Enforcement action against illegal caviar traders in Sweden is paying dividends, with just two tins of illicit caviar discovered by County regulators between 2006 and 2008, and the conviction in December 2008 of the two retailers for illegally selling caviar. They were fined a total of SEK22,200 (USD2,500).

The clampdown on illegal caviar in Sweden began in 2005, mainly in Uppsala and Stockholm. In November, 21 tins of osetra, sevruga and beluga caviar were confiscated in Uppsala. In court, it was revealed the caviar had come from Estonia via Finland and was half the normal price and lacked appropriate documentation.

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