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USAID WILDLIFE ASIA NEWS ROUND-UP

October 28 - November 3, 2017

The USAID Wildlife Asia compiles news reports on combating wildlife trafficking, and other useful information. This is circulated to subscribers weekly. To contribute to this news round-up, please contact Dararat Weerapong, Communications, Outreach and Learning Specialist: dararat.weerapong@usaidwildlifeasia.org


CONSUMER DEMAND REDUCTION/CAMPAIGNS/BUSINESS

Golden Triangle is ‘ground zero’ for wildlife trafficking: WWF
TIGERS, ELEPHANTS, bears and pangolins are four of the most widely traded species in the Golden Triangle border area where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet, according to a report by WWF. A major driver of the trade is tourists from China and Vietnam travelling to areas such as Mong La and Tachilek in Myanmar, and border areas such as Boten and the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Laos. 

Rare old photos of S’pore capture 1960s life, including sale of exotic meats
Mothership, October 31, 2017
Back when wildlife was in abundance, exotic creatures such as the pangolin and tapirs were commonly spotted in the market. Pangolins, which are endangered today, were (and still are) prized for their scales and meat.

Duke of Cambridge condemns ‘barbaric’ illegal wildlife trade
Belfast Telegraph, November 2, 2017
William was speaking at a gala dinner in central London hosted by the charity Tusk, which works to protect wildlife across Africa. He has been a royal patron of Tusk since December 2005 and praised its conservation efforts, pointing to recent commitments from the UK and China to curb the ivory trade.

Push for Australia to help save rhino by banning domestic ivory trade
Herald Sun, November 3, 2017
Wildlife campaigners are leading a renewed push to close a legal loophole which has been ­allowing ivory and rhino horns to be illegally imported into Australia.

Campaign Targets Myanmar Elephant Poaching
The Irrawaddy, November 2, 2017
A six-month campaign raising awareness of elephant poaching and wildlife smuggling will launch on Nov. 4 in response to an alarming rate of elephant poaching in Myanmar—one per week since January.

 
LAW ENFORCEMENT

Tortoise smuggler ordered to pay €100,000 damages
Xpat, October 26, 2017
A man caught smuggling 334 protected tortoises from Morocco to Belgium has been jailed for nine months and ordered to pay €100,000 in damages.

Rhino horn: Recipes for disaster
Africa Geographic, October 30, 2017
In the middle of the sixth mass extinction, when 50% of the living species are at risk of extinction due to the ever-growing, destructive human hands, six rhinoceros species are at the tip of the pyramid, and are among the most endangered species on Earth. Africa, in particular, is troubled by rampaging poaching. Countries with rhinos, NGOs, rhino owners, conservationists, ‘celebrities’ and corporate business owners are trying several schemes to save the rhinos.

Head of Wildlife Smuggling Ring Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Carvings Made from Ivory, Rhino Horn and Coral
U.S. Department of Justice, October 24, 2017 (Press Release)
Guan Zong Chen (“Graham Chen”), an Australian citizen, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, on charges that he led a conspiracy to illegally export (smuggle) $700,000 worth of endangered and protected wildlife items made from rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral from the United States to China. The guilty plea took place before U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel in Boston. Sentencing will take place on for Dec. 13, 2017. The maximum sentence for conspiracy and violation of the Lacey Act is five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 or half the gross gain of the offense per count. Smuggling carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or half the gross gain of the offense per count.

Japanese woman arrested for baby otter smuggling 
Bangkok Post, October 30, 2017
A Japanese woman aged 22 was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle 10 baby otters out of Thailand. She claimed she did so out of sympathy with the animals. 

 

POLICY, LEGAL AND POLITICAL COMMITMENT

Is Cambodia’s plan to reintroduce tigers doomed to fail?
Mongabay, November 1, 2017
As recently as 1999, Cambodia was home to one of the world’s largest tiger populations. Today the Indochinese tiger is considered functionally extinct in the country. Cambodia is now looking to emulate the profitable success of India’s tiger reserves by reintroducing the big cats to its own forests. Experts say poaching, rampant corruption and weak law enforcement could spell disaster for the endangered animals.

DENR’s Cimatu forms task force vs wildlife traffickers
Business Mirror, November 2, 2017
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has created a special task force that will go after groups and individuals involved in wildlife trafficking, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.

Ensuring the survival of elephants in Laos: A matter of economics
Phys, November 1, 2017.
Asian elephant populations in Laos, which are under a process of commodification, have dropped by half in the last 30 years. According to researchers from CNRS and the French Beauval Nature association for conservation and research, the dynamics of elephant populations depend heavily on the socio-economic practices of the country and elephant owners.

 
REGIONAL COLLABORATION AND US GOVERNMENT COORDINATION

Trump budget undercuts U.S. commitment to global wildlife conservation
Mongabay, October 30, 2017
President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would make extensive cuts to already underfunded programs to combat wildlife trafficking and to aid African and Asian nations in protecting elephants, rhinos, tigers, pangolins and other endangered wildlife. Trump’s budget proposes a 32 percent across-the-board cut in U.S. foreign assistance, affecting hundreds of sustainability, health and environmental programs. Major cuts would come to the Department of State, USAID, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs. Congress needs to approve a 2018 budget by December, and no one knows if it will approve the president’s desired deep cuts. However, hostility from the administration and many in the GOP to wildlife programs is unlikely to go away any time soon, with more and larger reductions in years to come. 

Testimony of USAID Administrator Mark Green before House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs - Accountable Soft Power in the National Interest
USAID, November 1, 2017
"…in coordination with the Department of State and interagency partners, USAID counters some of the terrible illicit activities, from trafficking in persons to trafficking in wildlife, which criminal and terrorist organizations often leverage in order to fund their operations. For many terrorist groups and transnational crime rings, trafficking in persons and wildlife is seen as a low-risk, high-reward way to generate money. Human trafficking is estimated to generate $150 billion a year, with another $19 billion generated through wildlife trafficking. USAID and our partners are on the ground in dozens of countries working to cut off these and other important financial lifelines for global terror and organized crime".
 
UK announces global conference to crack down on wildlife crime
TRAFFIC, October 30, 2017
The UK Government today officially launched London 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, which will take place on 10–11th October next year. The meeting will aim to build a strong global consensus on tackling illegal wildlife trade, which is destroying populations of threatened species and causing misery for local communities. 

 
EVENTS

Thai Environmental NGOs Network Meeting
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia
Date: November (TBC)
Venue: Bangkok
Contact: Eleanora de Guzman

USAID Wildlife Asia Team Coordination Meeting
Organizer: USAID Wildlife Asia
Date: November (TBC)
Venue: Beijing, China
Contact: Eleanora de Guzman
  • Ivory in Cambodia
  • Online Wildlife Trade in the Philippines
  • Sustainable Harvesting of Medicinal Plants in Viet Nam
  • Malaysia's Role in the Pangolin Trade
OPPORTUNITY

National Geographic’s Request for Proposals on Reducing Demand for Illegal Wildlife
RFP - National Geographic has covered the scale of transnational illegal wildlife trade, especially that of elephant ivory and rhino horn, editorially, and organizationally has partnered on studies of ivory demand. With this request for proposals, National Geographic wants to expand the scope of the work to help fill critical gaps in the science of demand reduction as well as to continue to support investigative journalism. The call is open for proposals focused on marine and terrestrial species. Preference will be given to applicants who are residents or citizens of the relevant regions for the consumption of or demand for illegal wildlife products. Application deadline is January 3, 2018. Read more.
Copyright © 2017, USAID Wildlife Asia, All rights reserved.

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