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Latest news from TRAFFIC


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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TRAFFIC Canada and Environment Canada WED

Albin Tremblay, Chief Enforcement Officer Enforcement Branch, Environment Canada and Ernie Cooper, , Canadian National Representative, for TRAFFIC North America sign an MoU between their respective organizations Click photo to enlarge © Environment CanadaVancouver, Canada, 27 February 2009—TRAFFIC Canada and Environment Canada’s Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (WED) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on co-operation between the two organizations on furthering the implementation and enforcement of wildlife trade regulations in Canada.

It is the first such agreement between the WED and a non-governmental organization (NGO) and the signing was witnessed by delegates to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) e-commerce meeting that included representatives from CITES Parties, the CITES secretariat, INTERPOL, World Customs Organization, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

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Internet wildlife trading comes under the spotlight

An internet auction site advertising Tiger bone wine Click photo to enlarge   Vancouver, Canada, 24 February 2009—Parties to CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Wild Species of Fauna and Flora, meet today to discuss the growing use of the internet for trading wildlife.

In 2004, TRAFFIC first drew attention to the use of internet auction sites for trading ivory in the United States through its seminal report Tackling the ivories: The status of the US trade in elephant and hippo ivory (PDF, 1.1 MB)

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Box turtles knocked out by excessive trade

Being driven to extinction in Indonesia by unregulated trade: the Southeast Asia Box Turtle Click photo to enlarge
© Chris R Shepherd / TRAFFIC
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 23 February 2009—Unregulated trade—at 10 to 100 times legal levels—has caused Southeast Asian Box Turtles almost to vanish from parts of Indonesia, where once they were common, according to a new report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

The turtles are used for meat and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, with major markets in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, mostly supplied from Indonesia. Animals are also exported as pets, mainly to the US, Europe and Japan.

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Canadian firm convicted of trading in Tiger parts

Medicines containing Tiger derivatives are banned Click photo to enlarge © TRAFFIC Cambridge, UK, 19 February 2009—A traditional Asian medicine firm based in Canada has been convicted of possessing and attempting to sell medicines containing parts from Tigers and other protected species.

Wing Quon Enterprises Ltd. pleaded guilty on 17 February in a Richmond Provincial Court to possession for the purpose of dealing in Tiger parts and was fined CAN45,000 (USD36,000).

CAN40,000 (USD32,000) of this was awarded by the court to TRAFFIC, to help further its efforts to ensure that wildlife trade is not detrimental to the conservation of nature.

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