Tacking Wildlife Trade in Southeast Asia

The Species

Various species including Asian songbirds; freshwater turtles and tortoises; rhino horn and elephant tusk trade. 

The challenge

Traded into extinction 
Southeast Asia’s rich biodiversity is under threat, as illegal and unsustainable trade levels are on the rise. Already, more than 160 species of terrestrial vertebrates in the region have been assessed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. TRAFFIC is focusing on Asian songbirds, freshwater turtles and tortoises, as well as the rhino horn and ivory markets, to improve research, and survey trends to better advocate for law enforcement and regulatory measures. Songbirds continue to be threatened by the still-persistent cultural tradition across Asia of keeping songbirds at home and using birds in competitions. TRAFFIC has been documenting the trade in freshwater turtles and tortoises for decades as threats increase. Separately, there has been no comprehensive study on the market in the Philippines, which has a significant domestic ivory market, for religious items. 

The goal

Research, undercover investigations and advocacy to protect wildlife 
TRAFFIC will play a critical role in multi-stakeholder meetings to mitigate the impact of the illegal wildlife trade on Asian songbirds, freshwater turtles and tortoises, as well as researching the ivory market in the Philippines. In addition to this, the international organization will carry out complete inventories of bird markets and known shops in Denpasar, Bali (a key market) and other identified trade hotspots in Bali. The team also aims to provide updated information on the trade in freshwater turtles and tortoises and fill gaps in information on the ivory trade market. 

Our Role

A collaborative campaign to raise awareness 
TRAFFIC SEA and WRS have committed to enhancing the conservation role played by regional zoos and aquariums, through jointly promoting the sustainable, ethical and legal sourcing of animals, and through increased and improved awareness-raising activities carried out in these institutions, through the “You Buy They Die” campaign which directly highlights the illegal wildlife trade and the demands that drive it. 

The Impact

The inescapable facts: data that backs advocacy 
Rampant trade and illegal activities are worsened by the lack of law enforcement and up to date data on just what is happening in the region and in Asia as a whole. TRAFFIC’s work, in collaboration with WRS, will lead to the production of various comprehensive studies that will either produce new, or updated, baseline data for species that are critically endangered and in need of urgent conservation action. In particular, TRAFFIC’s work synchronises with the Asian Species Action Partnership’s (ASAP) efforts to draw attention to species that receive little attention from the conservation community at large. The findings will give government enforcement authorities greater impetus to eliminate illegal trade in their respective countries, as well as better inform CITES processes.