What is driving the wildlife trade?

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South-east Asia is both a centre for the consumption of wildlife products, and also a key supplier of wildlife products to the world. Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Vietnam are among the south-east Asian countries that act as major sources of wildlife in trade, the trade involving a wide variety of native species, which, in many cases, are declining as a result of unsustainable, and often illegal, harvest. In 2005, with funding support from the World Bank-Netherlands Partnership Program, TRAFFIC initiated a study to better understand the economic and social drivers of the wildlife trade in these four countries, and to assess the effectiveness of interventions that have been employed to halt illegal and unsustainable trade in their native flora and fauna. The study aimed to generate findings and recommendations that would be useful to governments, non- governmental organisations, donors and others in considering how interventions to reduce illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade might be applied more effectively in future. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/THE WORLD BANK, 2008
Paper - What is driving the wildlife trade?

A review of expert opinion on economic and social drivers of the wildlife trade and trade control efforts in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam.

This comprehensive study published in 2008, was prepared by the Rural Development, Natural Resources and Environment Sector Unit of the East Asia and Pacific Region (EASRE) in collaboration with TRAFFIC, and was funded by The World Bank- Netherlands Partnership Fund (BNPP). The conclusions point to the need to factor economic and social considerations into efforts to halt the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade. This study is believed to be the first broad spectrum effort to generate and synthesize information about economic and social dimensions of illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade in south-east Asia with the specific aim of improving the effectiveness and outcomes of policies, programmes and projects aiming to address this trade.

Executive Summary

Worldwide there is a high – and in many cases growing – demand for wild plants and animals and products made from them. Wild species are used as the source of a wide variety of goods, including foods, medicines, pets, display, fashion and cultural items, industrial resins and extracts, and household items. Use may be local to the resource itself, e.g. hunting for meat for direct consumption, or take place many thousands of miles away, the wildlife products passing along a complex processing and trade chain from harvester to end-consumer.

South-east Asia is both a centre for the consumption of wildlife products, and also a key supplier of wildlife products to the world. Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Vietnam are among the south-east Asian countries that act as major sources of wildlife in trade, the trade involving a wide variety of native species, which, in many cases, are declining as a result of unsustainable, and often illegal, harvest. In 2005, with funding support from the World Bank-Netherlands Partnership Program, TRAFFIC initiated a study to better understand the economic and social drivers of the wildlife trade in these four countries, and to assess the effectiveness of interventions that have been employed to halt illegal and unsustainable trade in their native flora and fauna.

Since empirical data are sparse and incomplete, the primary data sources for the study were a survey of expert opinion and a review of relevant literature. A detailed questionnaire was completed by 89 experts on the wildlife trade, drawn from government departments, conservation organisations, universities, scientific bodies, and independent researchers across Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and elsewhere. The responses covered around 30 plant and animal taxa that are traded in and from the four countries under a variety of market, policy and regulatory contexts. The questionnaire data were analysed at an aggregate level, to give a picture of the wildlife trade overall, and detailed case studies were produced for three species groups: Tiger Panthera tigris , agarwood Aquilaria spp. and Gyrinops spp., and tortoises and freshwater turtles (various species). Workshops and meetings with wildlife trade experts in the region were also organised to guide the project’s research and consider and further elaborate on the project findings.

The study aimed to generate findings and recommendations that would be useful to governments, non- governmental organisations, donors and others in considering how interventions to reduce illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade might be applied more effectively in future.