Published 23rd September 2016
Johannesburg, South Africa, 23rd September 2016—The role of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) in the international trafficking of protected wildlife will be under scrutiny today in the lead up to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting that gets fully underway this Saturday.
Lalita Gomez, Boyd T.C. Leupen, Sarah Heinrich
During the CITES Standing Committee today, government representative members will examine a report written by the CITES Secretariat following a Mission to Lao PDR in July this year which is heavily critical of the way the country is failing to meet its requirements under CITES.
Their report highlights critical gaps in legislative coverage, a lack of law enforcement effort and a need to work with neighbouring countries to address transboundary trafficking of species along with a range of recommended actions.
The CITES Mission report also raises concerns “that rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and other wildlife specimens are smuggled through Laos to other countries in Asia…the country is targeted by organized crime groups as a transit point.”
Illustrating Lao PDR’s poor record in addressing wildlife crime, TRAFFIC today released two reports into the country’s role in the trafficking of pangolins and the Helmeted Hornbill.
According to TRAFFIC’s new report Observations of the illegal pangolin trade in Lao PDR, between April and July 2016 opportunistic surveys in seven northern regions of Lao PDR s found an estimated 2734 pangolins scales while 43 reported pangolin seizures involving an estimated 5678 pangolins implicating Laos were recorded between 2010 and 2015.
Pangolins are being heavily exploited in Asia and increasingly in Africa both for their meat and their scales, which are used in traditional medicine. All eight species - four each in African and Asia - are being considered for increased protection at the forthcoming CITES meeting because of the impacts of illegal trade.
The failure of law enforcement was also highlighted in the CITES Mission report, which notes “authorities stated that no arrests or prosecutions related to illegal trade in rhino horn, elephant ivory and other wildlife specimens have occurred in the country since 2012,” and that “significant loopholes” still exist in national legislation.
pangolin scales were found in 13 locations across 7 cities
was the average price for one small pangolin scale
seizures involving an estimated 5,678 pangolins were reported in Lao between 2010–2015
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