Google

ASEANAFFAIRS
Sign up | Log in

    ASEAN PROFILES

  ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS

Home  >>   Daily News  >>   Myanmar News  >> Trade  >> Myanmar must stand tall on illegal wildlife trade
NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   21 June 2013  

Myanmar must stand tall on illegal wildlife trade

by Kala Mulqueeny & William Schaedla

CONTRIBUTOR - Earlier this month, leading government, industry and civil society leaders descended upon Naypyitaw for the 22nd World Economic Forum on East Asia. With Myanmar poised to take over as chair of ASEAN in 2014 leading up to the charted 2015 realization of the ASEAN Economic Community, the gathering marked a new milestone in Myanmar’s political and regional leadership. But one key issue was not squarely tabled.

As Chair of ASEAN, Myanmar would be well served to address the illegal wildlife trade. It is not only an environmental issue, but has economic, security, and health implications.

This year, the United Nations called illegal wildlife trafficking a serious transnational criminal activity because it has fueled and funded conflicts, terrorism and other illicit activity. Myanmar should focus on this issue or its omission will have grave costs.

Myanmar has some of the world’s greatest biodiversity. Its Northern Forest Complex is the home to elephants, bears, leopards, and hundreds of species of birds. At the core of the forest lies an 8,500 square mile tract—Myanmar’s Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the world’s largest tiger reserve, a place biologically critical in a world where only about 3,000 wild tigers remain. Myanmar also has the most elephants in Southeast Asia.

To protect this biodiversity, Myanmar has an elaborate system of forest laws, which pre-date the military government, and a new government commitment to ban all timber exports starting next year.

In 1994, Myanmar also enacted the Protection of Wildlife and Wild Plants and Conservation of Natural Areas Law, which forbids the possession, sale or export of endangered animals or their parts, making such acts punishable by a fine of 30,000 to 50,000 kyat (US$1,000 – $1,667) and /or imprisonment of up to 7 years. Three years later, Myanmar signed the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). In 2010, Myanmar chaired the 5th Annual Meeting of ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Networks, and in 2011 created a national inter-agency Wildlife Enforcement Law Enforcement Task Force.

However, reports suggest significant trade in elephants, Asiatic bears, sun bears, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, cloud leopards, turtles, tortoises, and pangolins from Myanmar to its neighbors. Bears are hunted for their gall bladder and bile, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Big cats’ parts such as whole skins, paws, bones and penises are used for religious amulets, decorative pieces, aphrodisiacs and traditional Chinese medicine.

Moreover, what makes Myanmar a potential hub for regional trade also makes it ideally located as a transit point for the illegal wildlife trade. Myanmar shares porous borders with China, Bangladesh, India, Laos and Thailand. For example, one study by TRAFFIC, a worldwide non-government organization dedicated to monitoring the illegal wildlife trade, found that widespread distribution of big cat parts occurred through markets in Mong La, near the China border and Tachilek, on the Thai border. According to TRAFFIC, in just a 12-day period, researchers found parts from at least 215 bears being openly traded in Myanmar border markets near China and Thailand. Thus despite its wildlife laws, enforcement is at most ad hoc, and of low priority in areas where armed groups control.

Why is this a problem? From other countries, we know that wildlife crime destroys biodiversity and the services that healthy ecosystems provide. Illegal wildlife trade deprives governments direct revenue from sales of state-managed natural resources and avoids indirect revenue from taxes on private sector exports. It prevents local communities obtaining sustainable livelihoods, with small-scale local poachers receiving but a fraction of the value end-users pay. It can undermine national security because insurgent groups often support their activities via sales of contraband that includes wildlife. It also poses serious threats to health as the transport of wildlife products can spread disease.

These challenges are not unique to Myanmar but occur across Southeast Asia. Thailand and Vietnam, for example, came under scrutiny in March this year at the 16th CITES meeting in Bangkok. Thailand was criticized for failing to properly regulate its national ivory trade, with legal loopholes allowing imported foreign ivory to be passed off as a legal domestic product. Vietnam was told that rhino horn smuggling was increasing across its borders.

These issues are of serious international importance. African countries spend millions of dollars annually on protection efforts, while clashes with heavily armed militant groups cost dozens of rangers their lives each year. But both Thailand and Vietnam are now taking strong measures to address the crisis.

With greater openness, escalating regional demand from China and other ASEAN countries, and realization of the ASEAN Economic Community, the situation is likely to accelerate. Under moves toward economic integration, any inconsistencies in national laws or enforcement will see wildlife criminals moving to exploit the weakest nations in the bloc.

To address a similar possibility, the European Union established a common CITES framework that encompasses all its member states when it was first formed. ASEAN would benefit by adopting a similarly consistent approach to wildlife laws and enforcement.

Thus, as Myanmar assumes the ASEAN chairmanship in 2014 and plays a key role in leading the 10-member group toward the ASEAN Economic Community, it should consider the challenges that greater openness can bring, and should steer ASEAN to adopt a strong framework to stop the illegal wildlife trade and ensure it is enforced.

 


Reach Southeast Asia!
10- Nations, 560- Million Consumers
And $1 -Trillion Market
We are the Voice of Southeast Asia Media Kit
The only Media Dedicated to Southeast Asia Advertising Rates for Magazine
Online Ad Rates
Contact: marketing@aseanaffairs.com

Comment on this Article. Send them to  your.views@aseanaffairs.com

Letters that do not contain full contact information cannot be published.
Letters become the property of AseanAffairs and may be republished in any format.
They typically run 150 words or less and may be edited
 
or
submit your comment in the box below



 
Today's  Stories    21 June 2013 Subsribe Now !
• AIT to promote Habitech Building Technology in Africa Subcribe: Asean Affairs Global Magazine
• Marking ASEAN Dengue Day Asean Affairs Premium
• Thailand and the Philippines to Sign Three Important Documents
Research Reports
on Thailand 2007-2008

•Textiles and Garments Industry

•Coffee industry

•Leather and footwear industry

•Shrimp industry

• 101,000 Singapore millionaires in 2012
• Port project all at sea: Vinalines to pull out
• Myanmar must stand tall on illegal wildlife trade
Asean Analysis            21 June 2013 Advertise Your Brand
• Asean Analysis- June 21, 2013
Kerry, Wheels Up to Asia…Wait, the Middle East and Brunei
• Asean Analysis- June 21, 2013
Still Window-dressing’: Civil Society Launches Third Performance Report on the AICHR
• Asean Weekly: The Biweekly Update
Asean Stock Watch     20 June 2013
• Asean Stock Watch-June 20, 2013  

ASEAN NEWS UPDATES      Updated: 04 January 2011

 • Women Shariah scholars see gender gap closing
• Bank Indonesia may hold key rate as inflation hits 7 percent
• Bursa Malaysia to revamp business rules
• Private property prices hit new high in Singapore • Bangkok moves on mass transport
• Thai retailers are upbeat
• Rice exports likely to decline • Vietnamese PM projects 10-year socioeconomic plan

ASEAN  ANALYSIS

This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

 

Name

Name


Email

Email



1.  Verifier

1. Verifier

For security purposes, we ask that you enter the security code that is shown in the graphic. Please enter the code exactly as it is shown in the graphic.
Your Code
Enter Code

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Special Feature | Features | News | Magazine | Events | TV | Press Release | Advertise With us

Our Products | Work with us | Terms of Use | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Refund Policy | Shipping/Delivery Policy | DISCLAIMER |

Version 5.0
Copyright © 2007-2015 TIME INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT ENTERPRISES CO., LTD. All rights reserved.
Bangkok, Thailand
asean@aseanaffairs.com