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

  • All Covid restrictions for inbound travellers lifted

    Cambodia has apparently taken the final step towards full reopening of the country without Covid-19 restrictions by removing all requirements for inbound travellers, who until now had to show health certificates indicating that they have tested Covid-19 negative in the past 72 hours as well as

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Cambodia stands firm on 5PC: No invite for Myanmar to ASEAN Summit this year

    Cambodia has not invited Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC), to the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit and related meetings scheduled for next month in Phnom Penh. The government will instead invite a non-political representative from Myanmar

  • Mushrooming borey projects and home financing – a cause for concern?

    A spurt in housing developments is typically a sign of a growing economy but underneath all that might lay some anxiety of credit growth as developers offer financing to buyers at higher rates, an activity the central bank identifies as ‘shadow banking’ Earlier this year,

  • Thai Senate delegates in Cambodia to discuss anti-graft co-op

    A delegation from Thailand's Senate was in Phnom Penh on September 28 to meet their Cambodian counterparts to discuss strategies for fighting corruption and enhancing cooperation. The Thai delegates were from its Senate’s Committee on Studying and Inspecting Corruption, Misconduct and Strengthening Good Governance. They

  • Scholarship winner tells secrets to success

    Chhim Chaknineath was awarded the Chevening Scholarship for one year of postgraduate study in the UK for the academic year 2022-2023 along with a group of 10 other outstanding students who applied. She spent more than a year researching and studying – as well as consulting with