Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tiger, pangolin farming in Myanmar risks ‘boosting international demand’




Tiger, pangolin farming in Myanmar risks ‘boosting international demand’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Tigers, thought to number just 22 in Myanmar, appear on the list alongside pangolins, elephants and various species of vulture as well as the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) dolphin, of which only a few dozen remain in the wild in the country. AFP

Tiger, pangolin farming in Myanmar risks ‘boosting international demand’

Conservationists have warned that a sudden change in Myanmar’s law allowing the commercial farming of tigers, pangolins and other endangered species risks further fuelling demand in China for rare wildlife products.

The Southeast Asian nation is already a hub for the illegal trafficking of wildlife, a trade driven by demand from neighbouring China and worth an estimated $20 billion worldwide.

Last month, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation’s Forest Department quietly gave the green light to private zoos to apply for licences to breed 90 species, more than 20 of which are endangered or critically endangered.

It was an unexpected move that caught conservation groups off-guard but was explained by the department as a way to help reduce poaching of wild species and illegal breeding.

Tigers – thought to number just 22 in Myanmar – appear on the list alongside pangolins, elephants and various species of vulture as well as the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) dolphin, of which only a few dozen remain in the wild in the country.

The critically endangered Siamese crocodile can now even be bred for its meat and skin.

But conservationists say commercial farming in the long-term legitimises the use of endangered species and fuels market demand.

Conservation groups WWF and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) said in a joint statement: “Commercial trade has been shown to increase illegal trade in wildlife by creating a parallel market and boosting overall demand for wild animal products.”

Experts also fear Myanmar’s lack of capacity to regulate the trade raises the risk of disease spillover to humans from animals and even the “next Covid-19”.

John Goodrich from global wild cat conservation organisation Panthera warned farming can also “provide a means for laundering wild specimens”, complicating efforts to police the trade.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) does allow captive breeding of certain endangered species, but only under strict regulation.

But Myanmar’s ability to police the trade is disputed, say environmental groups, who fear the country risks following in the footsteps of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, which have lost much of their wildlife.

The Forest Department said the new list was drawn up “in full adherence with the law” and after consultation with “conservation groups, academics, and experts in the field”.

Conservationists fear the rule change risks undermining all the progress Myanmar had made in recent years to end the illegal wildlife trade.

Rare footage caught by FFI camera traps showed the “treasure trove” of species in Myanmar’s forests, the group said.

“We must do everything we can to protect them.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there