Many of the trafficked animals are listed on the IUCN's (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) "Red List" of critically endangered species. "Burma is being raped in terms of its natural resources -- trees, plants and animals. They've got to get a hold of the situation quickly before it becomes a barren ground," said Steven Galster, director of the Wildlife Alliance.Though Myanmar originally signed up to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1997, wildlife traffickers and gangs have benefited from the sometimes lax enforcement by the country's ruling junta. "These gangs are very big and have members stretching from Indonesia and Malaysia to Thailand and right up into China. They tend to be armed and there's still political influence in countries like China and Myanmar," said Aroon Promphan, a captain in Thailand's special wildlife crime police division.
Chinese authorities have escalated their efforts in recent years to stop the illicit trafficking, causing the trade to spill over beyond the country's borders. As Galster noted, while the government has made progress in raising awareness about the environmental consequences of illegal animal trading: "The problem is you've got 1.3 billion people and so it only takes a tiny percent of that population to be eating an endangered species to have a major impact."
Via ::Reuters: Myanmar wildlife pays the price for Chinese demand (news website)
See also: ::DNA Kit to Fight Illegal Animal Trading, ::China's Tiger Trade Ban: It's Grrreat! But Will It Last?
Image courtesy of Reuters