What’s Driving The Wildlife Trade?
Globally, there is strong demand for products derived from wild plants and animals. Southeast Asia is an epicenter of supply and consumption for wildlife-based trade. This survey of 89 experts provides case studies on tigers, agarwood, and turtles and tortoises, including recommendations to reduce the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade.
Focusing on Vietnam and Cambodia, experts claim that these countries currently face “an empty forest syndrome” where species are “getting vacuumed out of some areas where they were common.” Primates face perhaps the greatest threat, with 79% of primates in South and Southeast Asia facing extinction.
Major issues emerging from the study include:
- Gaps in information about the wildlife trade.
- Impacts of illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade.
- Livelihoods as drivers.
- Markets and prices as drivers.
- Laws and regulations as drivers.
- Awareness as a driver.
- Resource management as a driver.
- The evidence base for wildlife trade interventions needs to be strengthened.
- Wealth is a stronger driver of illegal trade in southeast Asia than poverty.
- Wildlife trade interventions need to take into account the broader conditions and trends that act to drive illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade.
- Laws and regulations must be effectively implemented and enforced; wider issues of governance must be addressed.
- Non-regulatory approaches to illegal trade are under-used.
- Awareness efforts to reduce illegal trade need to be targeted to specific audiences and evaluated over time.
- Coordinated campaigns of interventions are required to address illegal trade in a comprehensive manner.
- Increased policy attention is required if wildlife trade is to be brought to lower levels and conducted according to national and international controls.