Target: President Thein Sein of Myanmar
Goal: Tighten restrictions on the sale and purchase of big cat parts
The trade in body parts of tigers and other big cats in parts of Burma has increased in recent years, concentrated largely in the City of Mong La, according to a study published in the Biological Conservation journal. The study lends merit to previous suspicions among conservationists that the Chinese border town is rapidly becoming a nightmare for tigers and activists and remains virtually unchecked by the government of Myanmar.
Meanwhile, in Tachilek—a Burmese town bordering Thailand—the sale of endangered cats is decreasing markedly, possibly illuminating not only the improvement Thailand’s restrictions have had on wildlife trafficking, but also the role Burma must begin to play in animal conservation within the country. Since restrictions at the Chinese border are numbered and poorly enforced, it is up to Burma—which has agreed not to sell or buy such products—to stop big cat sales at its own borders.
Tiger parts were found in 80 percent of the shops surveyed in Mong La, representing no less than 200 tigers, as well as parts from at least 480 clouded leopards. Under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), Burma has banned the purchase and sale of endangered species, including big cats, but the rise shows a clear lack of enforcement on the part of the Burmese government. According to the country’s authorities, the town’s rule has fallen into the hands of armed forces following a peace deal.
Thomas Grey of the World Wildlife Fund says that meat from the endangered animals and tiger bone wine are regularly consumed in Mong La by Chinese tourists, while tiger skins often pass through the town on their way into China through Myanmar’s porous borders as souvenirs. What is needed, says Grey, is better enforcement at the border to keep the demand of Chinese tourists from being supplied and to stop any products that enter the town from leaving it.
While efforts must also be made in China to stem the fulfillment of such deplorable demands for the meat of endangered animals, countries along its borders must band together to stop the supply chain if they wish to enact real change.
Sign this petition urging the Burmese government to tighten its restrictions on the banned meat of endangered big cats.
Dear President Thein Sein,
The purchase and sale of illegal big cat products in Mong La has seen a sizable increase in recent years. Chinese tourists in Burma are largely to blame for the increased demand, but Burma has a responsibility to stem the supply of these endangered species, many of which are shipped in from as far away as Africa before being sold within the country.
Burma has made an agreement with CITES to ban the trade of big cats and allowing tigers and other endangered species to be sold and passed through its borders is in violation of its commitment.
I urge you to tighten restrictions on the sale and purchase of big cats in Myanmar and to punish those caught engaging in such egregious acts.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Spencer Wright via Wikimedia Commons