Wildlife trade awareness training for media and launch of writing contest in Myanmar
Yangon, Myanmar, 10th December 2014 – From beer bars touting wildlife whiskey to the mass sale of wild birds for merit release, journalists and editors attending a workshop on wildlife trade in Myanmar, quickly found countless stories on wildlife trade and crime to report on.
The three-day workshop organised by TRAFFIC and the British Embassy in Myanmar through the Bilateral Program Fund (BPF) introduced 21 writers and editors from 18 media organisations to global wildlife trade and the issues arising from wildlife trafficking in the country.
Participants heard presentations on the scale of trade in wild animals and plants in the region and did not take long to find examples of this themselves in and around the city during the practical session that followed.
Speakers from the Myanmar Press Council and the Forest Department’s Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division addressed participants on media legislation and reporting challenges, and wildlife legislation and enforcement efforts in the country. The Wildlife Conservation Society held a special session on Myanmar’s endemic turtles in trade, while Vietnam’s Thanh Nien News helmed sessions on how to develop wildlife story ideas and investigative reports. The workshop also included a panel discussion on the importance of reporting wildlife trade and crime.
Jeremy Eppel, Deputy Director for International Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Evidence of the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, updated the participants on the UK’s international efforts in the fight against wildlife crime.
The workshop to help raise awareness of wildlife trade among media practitioners and subsequently, the public, was identified as a need by enforcement agencies in Myanmar at a separate workshop co-organised by TRAFFIC in January 2013.
“When asked what was required to stem the illegal wildlife trade in the country, participants and trainers talked about increasing awareness amongst government agencies, the media and the public,” said TRAFFIC’s Training and Capacity Building Co-ordinator in Southeast Asia, Claire Beastall.
“Whilst the crisis affecting Myanmar’s wildlife which includes highly threatened species such as Tigers, Asiatic Black Bear and pangolins is well known amongst conservationists and specific agencies, it seems there is low awareness of the true scale of the problem or what efforts are being taken to tackle it in other sectors of society,” she said.
British Ambassador Andrew Patrick said: “For the UK, combating the illegal wildlife trade is not just an environmental issue. It is an issue that threatens national and international security – with links to organised crime and the drug trade. It is a health and social issue which can undermine sustainable development. And it is an economic issue – forming part of the unregulated, un-taxed black economy. Media reporting on this important issue will be key to tackling it and I would like to thank TRAFFIC for having run the workshop.”
To encourage continued interest in the subject, TRAFFIC and the British Embassy have launched a wildlife trade writing contest for journalists living and working in Myanmar. Entries are to be submitted by January 16th 2015 and three winners are expected to be announced the following month.
The grand prize is a visit to a national park in India where the winning journalist will have the opportunity to witness wildlife in an area where they are facing the threat of poaching to supply the illegal trade in Myanmar and beyond.
Rules and details of the contest can be viewed here: