The Ineffectiveness of Southeast Asian Government in Dealing With Wildlife Trade      	 	         “Passport, tickets, leop...
committed (“Illegal Wildlife Trade...”). This issue has become so crucial that the U.S. governmenthas recently helped fund...
stricter laws to resolve this issue. Local people are often unaware of the way that different speciesinteract to create th...
they have become extinct in bordering countries (Sullivan). Any species which become extinct canseverely threatened habita...
wild meat consumption adds to the problem of animal extinction. For example, freshwater turtle hasbecome very popular in S...
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The Ineffectiveness of Southeast Asian Government in Dealing With Wildlife Trade

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The Ineffectiveness of Southeast Asian Government in Dealing With Wildlife Trade

  1. 1. The Ineffectiveness of Southeast Asian Government in Dealing With Wildlife Trade “Passport, tickets, leopard cubs? That’s exactly what a United Arab Emirates man was found carrying when police arrested him at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in the early hours of the morning. The case put the illegal capture and trafficking of young wild animals for the pet trade in the limelight and the problem has since become the focus of a TRAFFIC Southeast Asia (“Live Bear and Leopard...).” Southeast Asia is the world’s most diverse region since there in an infinite number of plantsand wildlife species some of which still has not even been discovered yet. However, this has causedthe region to be the global hotspot for the poaching and trafficking of illegal wild animals. Someconsumers are unaware about the situation while others are collecting animal parts as a hobby. Therich bio- diversities of Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar and the easy access in Thailand is wherethe situation is most targeted. Illegal wildlife trade can be found throughout Southeast Asiatherefore ASEAN, an economic and social organization of ten countries in Southeast Asia, hasagreed to take action but not much has been implemented yet. As a result illegal wildlife trade willcontinuously increase until the governments of Southeast Asia has done enough in preventing thisproblem environmentally, socially and politically. The alarming number of illegal wildlife trade is closely relate to the government’s policysince the public’s behavior can only be controlled with their assistance. The governments hasrecently become devoted in finding a solution to solve the problem. Annual meetings, workshopsand training between all Southeast Asian countries has been organized and has resulted in anincrease in capacity and better coordination and collaboration of law enforcements (“IllegalWildlife Trade...”). They have enforced regional and national laws to combat the illegal wildlifetrade. One objective they plan on reaching soon is enforcing prosecution if this crime is ever 1
  2. 2. committed (“Illegal Wildlife Trade...”). This issue has become so crucial that the U.S. governmenthas recently helped fund a training workshop on the environmental law enforcement for officials fornearly a dozen Asian nations (Sullivan). For instance, Thailand’s new law which is set up with thehelp the U.S. is now allowing people to breed species of birds, mammals and reptiles so there willbe a relieve of pressure (Sullivan). The government’s dedication has resulted in creating a databasesystem which has been produce to track the source to market. The procedure includes monitoringthe chain of custody and compliance plus the place where the goods are sold (“Wildlife Trade...”).However, the governments could in fact do more to help solve this major problem because eventhough there has been an increase in animal investigation they still cannot find the entire criminalenterprise (“Illegal Wildlife Trade...”). Despite international and local laws designed to track illegal trade, live animals and animalparts are still sold in markets throughout the region. ASEAN has been able to set up laws but it stillhas not been put into major action (“Wildlife Trade...”). For example, in a market in Myanmarcalled Tachilek, a Burmese lady was selling leopard skin at the back of her store at 1,800 baht orabout $45 (Sullivan). Also Thailand’s weekend market is another example of how difficult it is tobattle this issue. No matter what specie one is looking for, from domestics dogs to rare snakes, theyare bound to find it in Bangkok’s Chatuchak market (Sullivan). Law enforcement  officers areusually trying to stop trade in the big species, such as wild cats, but are unaware that smalleranimals like otters and pangolins are also in need protection (Aditjondro). The penalties are alsominuscule therefore there is not much fear in committing such crime (Nayar). Exotic pet ownerscan easily close their eyes and sell their products since there is not much fear of getting caught. Forinstance, it is very simple to cross the borders from Burma to Thailand without having your bagschecked therefore it is not difficult to smuggle wild animals between countries. This problem willnever disappear if the maximum penalty for committing this crime will continue being about sixmonths behind bars (Sullivan). The lack of awareness has become a huge necessity to enforce 2
  3. 3. stricter laws to resolve this issue. Local people are often unaware of the way that different speciesinteract to create the environment they depend on (“Illegal Wildlife Trade...”). The locals andtourists often buy various goods and souvenirs unconscious of what they are engaging in. It istherefore vital to implement stricter laws to control this harmful behavior The governments of Southeast Asia has however been put much effort in tackling theproblem by informing the public about the wildlife problems. They have concluded that issue canbe addressed by simple communication protocols and informing the public (“Wildlife Trade...”).The awareness campaigns of TRAFFIC affected about half a million people who now agree tonever purchase animal base products (“Wildlife Trade...”). In addition, most countries in the regionhave set up national parks with the encouragement of the government. Thailand’s authorities, forexample, have built and set up national parks so animals can be protected and help preserve whatsleft of the wildlife. Animals like tigers, leopards and elephants can be found in these parks(Sullivan). The parks were also made to show the public about the necessities of why wild animalsshould be in their natural habitat (Sullivan). In addition, all ASEAN members have agreed toenforce CITES resolutions which ensures that international trade does not threaten the animals andplants (Nayar). ASEANWEN is another part of ASEAN that deals with wildlife trade. Theycooperate among all sectors and agencies, enforcement laws, encourage strong and appropriatesentencing and lastly increase public awareness (“Illegal Wildlife Trade...”). The governments ofSoutheast Asia has put a lot of effort in addressing the issue to the public. Throughout the region, animals are still continuously being sold by people who areinsensitive about wild animals. Illegal wildlife trade is affecting the environment since each specieplays an important role in the animal kingdom. More than 40 per cent of the animal and plantspecies in Southeast Asia could be wiped out in this century, with at least half of them as part of theglobal extinctions (“Wildlife Trade...”). The Asian rhinos now can only be found in Indonesia as 3
  4. 4. they have become extinct in bordering countries (Sullivan). Any species which become extinct canseverely threatened habitat therefore any removal of wild specimens poses a significant threat. Allanimals should be well taken care of. A significant proportion of orang-utans, tigers and bears in theregion are all victims of this trade. Everyday hundreds of them die just in the collection andshipping process (Sullivan). In markets where wild animal are sold, not much care has beenimplemented since almost all of them have been kept in small cages or drugged while being shippedacross borders (Nayar). Many people believes that animals do have feelings like humans thereforethey do not give equal respect (Nayar). Animals do not have a voice but people can help stand upfor them. The conditions each animal has to go through is so appalling, the government should takeimmediate action to deal with this problem. Illegal wildlife trade industry is worth many billions of dollars a year and is continuouslyincreasing because of the growing demand of wild animals (Sillivan). Therefore, a large number ofpeople in Southeast Asia are making a living off this business (“Wildlife Trade...”). More than 35million different rare species were exported from Southeast Asia between 1998 and 2007. The useof wild animals has not only become part of the people’s lives in this region but all around theworld. Despite the bans, animals are generally used as part of traditional chinese medicine (Nayar).From tiger bones to rhinoceros horns, vendors can be found selling them especially countries in themainland. The vendors however are conscious of the extinction rate (“Wildlife Trade...”). Alsomany people love having exotic pets and animal parts but they do not know that these animalsbelong in the wild not in their homes. Fur coats, souvenir and furniture decorations purchases areprolonging the end of illegal wildlife trade (Nayar). There are specialist collectors who sought outto find the rarest species including ivory from elephant’s tusk and the fur of rare animals such aschinchillas (“Wildlife Trade”). This particular problem is difficult to solve since sellers in Indonesiado not openly reveal their stock of illegal wild animals therefore authorities should pay moreattention to the rampant trade (Aditjondro). Eating and trying strange meat has become a hobby but 4
  5. 5. wild meat consumption adds to the problem of animal extinction. For example, freshwater turtle hasbecome very popular in Southeast Asia that only one third of the population is left.(“WildlifeTrade”). About 13,000 metric tons of freshwater turtles are shipped to China every year fromVietnam (“Illegal Wildlife Trade...”). Another way people use wild animal is wildlife-basedaphrodisiacs. In 2007 and 2008, tiger and bear products were found in Vietnam by uncoveredinvestigators (“Illegal Wildlife Trade...”). Foreigners are usually caught in the act of buying illegalproducts just because they look exotic (“Wildlife Trade”). Is there really a need to collect or displayall these wild animals? Is there an alternative for most of these things? The governments of Southeast Asia must take a more aggressive approach in handling thewildlife trade environmentally, socially and politically or else the problem will increase. If thegovernments are able to take control of the issue by simply just enforcing stricter laws, andcommunication to the public, including consumer and vendors, about the issue then only they willbe able to put an end to this problem. The issue needs to be addressed immediately as the rarespecies of animals are in danger of becoming extinct. As governments become more aware of theimportance of biodiversity due to of the threats posed by the illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia,this issue will remain a major factor in improving the quality of people’s lives and providingopportunities for future generations. 5

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