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Survey targets animal trafficking

Survey targets animal trafficking

5-story-1.jpg
5-story-1.jpg

The illegal wildlife trade has been given global focus by the World

Conservation Congress, which says trafficking is a major contributor to

a recent plunge in rare species

TRACEY SHELTON

According to a global survey, 80 percent of primates, such as this

Yellow-cheeked Gibbon, are now facing extinction.

CAMBODIA's wildlife is being wiped out, according to a global conservation survey, which has declared that a quarter of the world's wild mammal species are now at risk of extinction.

The new assessment, which was made public at the quadrennial World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Monday and took 1,700 experts in 130 countries five years to complete, targeted Vietnam and Cambodia, saying they face "an empty forest syndrome", where even populous species are "getting vacuumed out of some areas where they were common".

Conservation International President Russ Mittermeier, one of the paper's co-authors, said in an interview Monday that the situation was "not that surprising", given the "high population pressures, the level of habitat destruction, and the fairly extreme hunting" of animals for food and medicinal purposes in the region.

Trafficking 'biggest threat'

According to the survey, primates were facing the greatest threat, with 79 percent in South and Southeast Asia now facing extinction.

Local conservation experts have been quick to point the finger at illegal trafficking.

"The wildlife trade is second only to the drug trade in terms of how much money it generates in Southeast Asia," David Emmett, regional director of the Indo-Burma program at Conservation International told the Post Tuesday.

"Most of the animals are killed in Cambodia and walked over the border to Vietnam, where they go on to be sold in China."

Emmett said that the IUCN Redlist had recently changed the classification of two Cambodian species from "common" to "endangered". The Pangolin, a scaly anteater, and the hairy-nosed otter, native to the Tonle Sap, are being hunted because of their large demand in China, where they are used for medicinal purposes and traditional clothing.

Chheang Dany, deputy director of the wildlife office at Forestry Administration, said that it was indiscriminate poaching that was of the most concern. 

"Hunters do not distinguish what type of animals they do or do not kill. They will just kill anything," he said.

"In other countries they have breeding farms to help save these kinds of wild species, and they can protect them, but here we have no such thing."

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY THE WASHINGTON POST

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