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  • Writer's picturejohnfmcevoy

New Publication: Joining the Dots in Myanmar's Wildlife Trade

In some previous work we carried out a survey of hunters and wildlife markets across Myanmar and found evidence of widespread hunting and sale of species across taxa, including critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, and near threatened species. As part of an ongoing project to understand and map the illegal wildlife trade within Myanmar, we conducted a review of available literature which has just been published.

Myanmar sits at a junction between important bioregions and acts as both a source and a conduit for illegal wildlife trade across Asia. Interplays between internal demand for wildmeat and external demands for wildlife products from neighbouring China and Thailand shape the illegal wildlife market in Myanmar. While some information on trade, market locations, and key border crossings exists, this is frequently limited to target species and this information has not been brought together in one place.

A map showing where in Myanmar research has been done on the wildlife trade. Market surveys are particularly skewed towards important border crossings

There area a small number of groups doing some really excellent work on this issue in Myanmar (e.g. WWF, The Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group) and as such the literature is unavoidably skewed towards the few places where detailed work has been done. We found that a small number of wildlife markets along Myanmar’s Eastern border have been the focus of much of the work that has been done. Almost a quarter (24%) of all studies focus on just 2 markets, Mong La on the Chinese border and Tachilek on the Thai border. Domestic trade and consumption is less well known and links between internal markets and border markets are unclear. For example, we found 31 market surveys carried out at three major border markets (Mong La, Tachilek and Three Pagodas Pass) and 37 market surveys across the rest of the country combined. Interview surveys were more evenly distributed but still biased towards border regions.

A small sample of wildlife goods available at a local market

We recommend the establishment of a national wildlife crime database to improve data sharing, providing an integrated national-level perspective on the illegal wildlife trade within Myanmar and across its borders. While data sharing is crucial, without the capability and will to enforce legislation, the illegal wildlife trade in Myanmar represents a major threat to the biodiversity of the region the continued survival of several endangered species.

To read the full paper click here

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