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Monday, March 17, 2008

Deadly Trade
For those of us who work in the conservation arena, having an optimistic outlook is essential. Without keeping the faith that there is hope in our efforts to save endangered species and habitats, success will never be possible. However, maintaining optimism despite the daunting challenges facing wildlife can be difficult. This is perhaps best illustrated by the torrent of disturbing reports of wildlife trade that continue to flow from Southeast Asia. On a nearly daily basis reports from the region catalog the consumption of wildlife ranging from seahorses, snakes, and pangolins to bears, primates, and some of the earth's rarest big cats.

One recent report from a National Geographic journalist illustrates the extent of the problem. In just one town on the Burma-China border, illegal trade takes place openly through the brutal exploitation of living wildlife as well as through the sale of every wildlife body part imaginable. Read the story here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/02/080228-wildlife-trade.html

Clouded leopard are being increasingly affected by trade. Now that larger cats, such as tigers and leopards, have been hunted out of most of their range, clouded leopards are increasingly targets for traders in pelts and bones. The rapidly rising standard of living in China has resulted in millions of people with new discretionary income for the purchase of luxury items such as furs or traditional tonics made from wildlife body parts. Stemming this trade will require a phenomenal effort bringing international commitment to law enforcement, education, and providing alternative economic opportunities to impoverished communities sharing space with wildlife.

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