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August 5-11, 2017

The USAID Wildlife Asia compiles news reports on combating wildlife trafficking, and other useful information. This is circulated to team members every Friday. To contribute to this news roundup, please send it to:


Weaning Itself From Elephant Ivory, China Turns to Mammoths
New York Times, August 6, 2017
Environmentalists worried about the fate of Africa’s dwindling elephant population cheered when China announced a ban on the sale of commercial ivory last year, but an increasingly popular substitute is raising concerns of its own. To sustain a carving and collecting tradition that is centuries old, many Chinese artisans have turned not to ivory from elephants but from the tusks of extinct mammoths harvested from an unlikely place: the melting permafrost of Russia’s Arctic. 

Online retailers in Japan not doing enough to stop illegal ivory trade: report
The Japan Times, August 9, 2017
In a recent report on the online trade of ivory in Japan, environmental conservation group Traffic concluded that operators of e-commerce websites are not doing enough to crack down on illegal sales of items made from elephant tusks, urging the government to strengthen restrictions.
MandaLao: Is this Laos' most responsible elephant retreat?
CNN, August 9, 2017
A trip to MandaLao elephant camp is a different experience to visiting a typical elephant camp in Laos or Thailand. There are no elephant rides. No circus tricks. No evening elephant dances. It's a stark contrast to the rest of Southeast Asia, where 75% of 3,000 elephants surveyed in tourist venues between late 2014 and mid-2016 were living in unacceptable conditions, according to a World Animal Protection report.
China buys out a mammoth source of Lao pride
Asia Times, August 6, 2017
There is growing evidence that China is fast buying the last of Laos’ elephants, with the porous northern borders of Luang Nam Tha, in particular the former casino town of Boten, emerging as gateways for the unregulated and often illegal trade of domesticated and possibly wild elephants. Chinese buyers are reportedly paying as much as US$25,000 per elephant for use in Chinese circuses, zoos and conservation parks as show animals, according to wildlife investigators and conservationists who track the mostly underground trade.


N$20,000 fine for ivory smugglers
New Era, August 7, 2017
Windhoek-Chinese nationals Xinxi Xue and Ruhe Zhang were fined N$20,000 each by the court last week for their attempt to smuggle ivory to China.

Africa’s Tragedy is Malaysia’s Tragedy
Clean Malaysia, August 9, 2017
It’s not that there were any more proof needed that much of Africa’s wildlife is being decimated at appalling rates, but it has been provided again nonetheless. That evidence came in the form of 23 elephant tusks and 300kg of pangolin scales. They belong to the latest shipments of illicit animal parts that Malaysian authorities have managed to seize at Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s warehouse before they could be moved to their likely intended destination: China. The shipments, which would have been worth nearly $1 million on the black market in total, were into Malaysia from Africa. 

3 Arrested for exporting endangered pangolin scales
Graphic, August 5, 2017
Three members of a syndicate that allegedly exported 400 kg of the endangered pangolin scales, worth $1.2 million, to Malaysia have been arrested in Accra. 

Vietnamese man with rhino horn arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport
The Nation, August 10, 2017
Officials at Suvarnabhumi Airport's wildlife checkpoint apprehended a Vietnamese passenger who was bound for Luang Prabang in northern Laos along with a rhino horn which had been cut into five pieces 

Thai poachers hunt more than just animals, they're also after rare trees
(Interviewed Tim Redford, Freeland)
Newsweek, August 5, 2017
Wildlife ranger Salak Chairacha heads into Thailand's Thap Lan national park in November 2016 to go on patrol searching for evidence of illegal Siamese rosewood loggers. 

Bangkok snake restaurant raided, owner charged
The Nation, August 10, 2017
Snake is off the menu at a Bangkok restaurant after a mass raid on Wednesday night sparked by complaints that wildlife was being consumed there. A 20-strong team of police officers and officials from the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department’s “Wild Hawk” task force stormed the restaurant – Luang Toto on Srivara Road in Wang Thong Lang district – in time to find two plates of chopped snake freshly served to diners’ tables.

Customs seize 8,000kg of pangolin scales worth RM100mil
The Star, August 11, 2017
Some 8,000kg of pangolin scales worth a whopping RM100mil in illicit trade were seized by Customs at the Sepanggar Bay container port here. Sabah Customs and Excise Department director Datuk Janathan Kandok said the pangolin scales were found in 266 gunny sacks owned by a private company that was meant for export on July 29.  



UK named as world's largest legal ivory exporter
The Guardian, August 10, 2017
Britain was the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory between 2010 and 2015, a breakdown of records held by the Convention on international trade in endangered species (Cites) has revealed.

[VIDEO] How 520 Elephants Were Tranquilized, Hoisted by Cranes and Transported to New Homes to Save Their Lives
Malaysia Digest, August 10, 2017
Malawi has gallantly fought against elephant poaching for the last two years via a two-year project that involved moving 520 sedated elephants to a reserve that finally came to a successful end last Thursday.


Rhino horn trade will threaten its existence: US wildlife advocate
Business Standard, August 9, 2017
Allowing trade in rhino horns in South Africa will undercut enforcement efforts in rest of Africa, China, Vietnam and other Asian countries. It is a major setback in tackling trafficking in wildlife, a renowned wildlife advocate has said. "We see this as very dangerous and threatening the future existence of rhinos in many countries," US-based global advocacy Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Vice President for International Policy Susan Lieberman told IANS in an e-mail interview.

New installation raises awareness of wildlife trafficking at Johannesburg
International Airport Review, August 10, 2017
The USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership worked with South African Airways to unveil a life-size wildlife trafficking awareness installation at the staff lounge in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport.

US-China Cooperation on Wildlife Smuggling: An Opportunity
Huffington Post, August 10, 2017
Earlier this spring, while a band of poachers carried out an audacious attack on a white rhinoceros in a French zoo, escaping with one of the animal’s horns, European authorities broke up a criminal network attempting to smuggle an endangered eel species out of the EU. Despite international authorities publicly identifying China as a key destination for such goods, demand continues to ensure that eels, ivory, tiger bones and myriad other illicit wildlife products make their way to Chinese markets, perhaps the largest in the world. These accounts may leave many tempted to shake heads and wag fingers in China’s direction, but the United States would do well to recognize anti-wildlife smuggling as an opportunity for mutual cooperation in an otherwise contentious bilateral relationship.

ASEAN at 50: Walking a Tightrope?
Asian Foundation, August 9, 2017
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the ASEAN and, in this past May, the 40th anniversary of the United States being a dialogue partner with ASEAN. The U.S. and ASEAN nations coordinate on issues ranging from maritime security, counter-terrorism and anti-trafficking of humans, narcotics, and wildlife, to disaster risk management, governance, and nuclear non-proliferation.


USAID Wildlife Asia work-planning workshop
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia
Date: August 14-18
Venue: Novotel Hotel, Rayong, Thailand
Contact: Robert

Asian Judges Network on the Environment  Workshop
Date: August 21-25
Venue: Cambodia
Contact: Brian

Thai-Cambodia enforcement officers training on trans-national crime
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia
Date: August 28 – September 6
Venue: Bangkok
Contact: Sal

Media workshop on combating wildlife trafficking
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia
Date: September 12-15
Venue: Bangkok
Contact: Dararat

The 4th Regional Dialogue on Combating Trafficking of Wild Fauna and Flora
Organizers: Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, USAID Wildlife Asia and partners
Date: September 12-14
Venue: Miracle Grand Convention Hotel, Bangkok
Contact: Bussara, Pakprim  

Meeting of four USAID wildlife related projects
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia
Date: September 11-12
Venue: Bangkok
Contact: Robert

Joint training for custom Officers
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia and UNODC
Date: September 26-29
Venue: Vietnam
Contact: Sal

SBCC Workshop of Thai NGOs
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia
Date: October (date TBC)
Venue: Bangkok
Contact: Nora

Joint training for custom Officers
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia and UNODC
Date: October 2-5
Venue: Laos
Contact: Sal

  1. Kitade, T. (2017). TRAFFIC Briefing: An updated review of online ivory trade in Japan. 9pp.
  2. Olmedo, A., Sharif, V., and Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2017). “Evaluating the Design of Behavior Change Interventions: A Case Study of Rhino Horn in Vietnam”, in Conservation Letters. First published August 2017.
  3. Report on the Working Group 3: Discussion on Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the 9th AIPA Caucus, Jakarta, Indonesia, July 17-10, 2017.  
Copyright © 2017, USAID Wildlife Asia, All rights reserved.

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