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  WWF website, 26 May 05
ASEAN combats illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia

26 May 2005 Jakarta, Indonesia – In an unprecedented move against Southeast Asia’s illegal and unsustainable trade in wildlife, delegates from the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed upon a five-year action plan to combat threats to the region’s rich biological diversity.

“It is extremely encouraging to see the action plan already in place,” said James Compton, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Regional Director.

“It is an ambitious programme of work, but if the leadership shown by the ASEAN countries can be matched by some of the region’s key consumer partners in East Asia, Europe, and North America, there is incredible potential to achieve large-scale partnerships that can impact both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Asian region.”

The illegal and unsustainable trade in wild animals and plants in the region continues to drive critical threats to the survival of a large number of threatened species.

Birds and reptiles for the pet trade, luxury items made of ivory and hawksbill turtle shell products, as well as highly-valued medicines such as musk, tiger bone and ginseng are all in high demand as the economic growth in the wider Asian region has continued to increase.

Recent seizures of smuggled species listed under the UN's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in a number of countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam illustrate not only increased enforcement effort in these countries, but the persistently large volume of illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia.

The newly endorsed ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora provides a solid framework agreement for collaboration between the ten member countries.

Specifically, it addresses common issues of enhanced law enforcement networking, inter-agency co-operation, strengthened national legislation, and increasing the availability of scientific information to guide wildlife trade management by CITES authorities.

“This initiative is remarkable because of the diversity of nations involved, and the tremendous commitment and cooperation this shows to focus together on the wildlife trade," said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of the WWF Global Species Programme.

The regional Action Plan also prioritizes engagement with civil society to raise awareness of issues of legality and sustainability with industry groups, traders, and local communities involved in wildlife trade.

“Mainstreaming these issues should ensure that legal and sustainable trade is prioritized at the national levels in ASEAN member countries,” said Dr Samedi from Indonesia's CITES Management Authority, which hosted the special meeting of the ASEAN experts group.

“Cracking down on illegal trade will require cooperation not only between ASEAN countries, but will depend on strong links with the region’s major trading partners.”

ASEAN Wildlife Trade Initiative on the TRAFFIC website
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