While attending the World Environment Day ceremony in Nay Pyi Taw on June 6, President U Htin Kyaw warned bystanders of the Conservation Department “You must take action to stop it. You really need to do it.”
“Wildlife poaching and smuggling could damage the ecosystem and fuel gang crimes,” the president said.
“Until the past decade, we knew very little about the effects of illegal trading of wildlife on the environment, business sector and social community.
“But today, due to advances in technology and knowledge, we can assess the situation. And, as it is a worrisome situation, we need to conduct preventative measure effectively,” he said.
Illegal wildlife trading proliferates across Myanmar’s borders. Mong La in Shan State is known as a transit haven for poachers, and a hot spot for trading in endangered pangolins. Reports suggest there is also significant trade in elephants, Asiatic bears, sun bears, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, cloud leopards, turtles and tortoises from Myanmar to its neighbours.
“In Asia’s smuggling market, a kilogram of ivory is priced at US$220, while a kilogram of rhinoceros horns is about $60,000. They are more expensive than gold and platinum,” U Htin Kyaw said.
“The amount of money spent on transactions involving wildlife across the world is $20 billion a year. It is the fourth-biggest trafficking business after the trade of drugs, weapons and persons.”
In 1994 Myanmar enacted the Protection of Wildlife and Wild Plants and Conservation of Natural Areas Law, which forbids the possession, sale or export of endangered animals or their parts and carries fines of K30,000 to K50,000 or imprisonment of up to seven years.
Myanmar is also a signatory of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species.
This article originally appeared on the Myanmar Times.