More than 5,000 species are endangered in Asia, around 800 in the Greater Mekong region alone. Plants and wildlife are used to produce traditional medicines, clothes and accessories. Hunting and poaching are practiced in about 70 pe cent of sanctuaries. In Southeast Asia and the Pacific regions, the illegal trade in wildlife is worth about US$ 19.2 billion a year.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar is home to 331 endangered species, this according to the latest report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including birds, orangutans, elephants, deer, freshwater turtles, pangolins and tigers.
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the IUCN presented its report, Larger than Tigers, in Yangon on Tuesday, documenting the risks faced by more than 5,000 species in Asia, about 800 of them in the Greater Mekong region, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to the report, the biodiversity of the Greater Mekong is under threat because of habitat loss and exploitation. Local plants and wildlife are exploited to make traditional herbal medicines, clothes and accessories, for food and for pets.
It notes hunting and poaching was found in about 70 per cent of sanctuaries, and that the annual illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region is worth about US$ 19.2 billion.
In May, Myanmar’s Parliament passed the Protection of Biodiversity and Conservation Areas Law, which prescribes harsh penalties for hunting and illegal wildlife trading as defined by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Violators can face up to ten years in jail.
In October, the Yangon Region government also imposed a ban on selling items made with wildlife parts at souvenir shops or selling wildlife curries at restaurants. However, due to strong financial incentives, the illegal wildlife trade remains rampant.
The World Wildlife Fund (Myanmar) has also warned that Myanmar’s elephant population could disappear in the next decade if the government fails to effectively prevent poaching.