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Wildlife Trafficking
July 31, 2007

Lao wildlife still threatened
Lao wildlife is seriously under threat from illegal traders, highlighted by the recent confiscation by wildlife officials of a baby langur while the animal was being transported to be sold in Thailand, Vientianne Times reported.

According to staff at the World Conservation Society (WCS), an illegal wildlife trader brought the langur from Borikhamxay province to sell through Vientiane to Thai buyers.

WCS staff said the trader, at Tong Na Ti Market in Pakkading district, Borikhamxay province, was apprehended on June 24 at a roadblock set up by local staff.

She had received the langur from another seller from Khamkeuth district in Borikhamxay, in exchange for a bag of rambutans, worth around 50,000 kip (US$5), WCS staff said.

The trader told the police officers who apprehended her that a monk in Thailand had requested a baby langur, and had offered 285,000 kip (about US$30) in exchange for such an animal.

According to police reports, the person who sold the baby langur to the rambutan trader at Tongnamy market is an animal hunter in Khamkeuth district.

‘Langur' is a general name given to numerous species of Asian monkeys, but this particular animal was of a species that is only found in Laos, according to the WCS.

The Laos Langur is thought to exist in just two areas in the country – the Nam Kading National Protected Area in Borikhamxay province, and the Phou Hinboun National Protected Area, in Khammuan province.

WCS staff members believe the baby langur's mother was killed by the hunter while she was carrying the baby on her back in a tree. The hunter then probably cooked the adult langur for his family, and took the baby langur to sale in Thongnamy market.

Neither the hunter nor the illegal wildlife trader were punished because this was the first time that they had been caught with illegal wildlife, the WCS press release stated. They were instead educated by police and required to sign a pledge never to buy or sell wildlife again.

The baby langur, a female about three months old, was taken to WCS office in Vientiane , where staff members are qualified to care for such animals.

The WCS press release said the staff contacted the Primate Rescue Centre in Vietnam and the Bronx Zoo in New York to learn how to care for it; little is known about what these animals eat in the wild.

It is believed that langurs eat only special leaves, and often die in captivity because they don't have access to their usual diet, WCS staff said.

The baby langur died after about 15 days in the WSC office, and its corpse will now be one of only five specimens in known collections around the world.

According to the WCS press release, wildlife law enforcement is part of the Integrated Ecosystem and Wildlife Management Project, a cooperative project between WCS and the Borikhamxay Agriculture and Forestry office.

The goal of the project is the conservation of the province's wildlife and protected areas. Vientianne Times

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