Natives of Laos, China and other Asian nations have taken advantage of the new road infrastructure to intensify the disappearance of jungle creatures large and small. Their partners in “crimes” against nature are European nations and US consumers who buy and consume or wear large quantities of bushmeat and black market produce.
According to the United Nations, the global trade in frog meat has soared over the past 20 years. France and the United States are the two largest importers, with France importing between 2,500 and 4,000 tons annually since 1995. Indonesia exports more than 5,000 tons per year, mainly to Europe. Frog legs are also very popular in Asian cuisine.
Up until twenty-five years ago, hundreds of tigers roamed vast expanses of relatively pristine jungle in Laos. But in recent years, particularly the past decade, development, deforestation, and the boom in wildlife trafficking have reduced the Laotian tiger population to 50 or fewer individuals, according to Johnson and other scientists. The main driver of the rapid exhaustion of tigers and dozens of other species of birds, animals and reptiles is the growing wealth of neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and especially China, where a vast new market for wildlife products has arisen.
Laos is the latest front in the struggle to curb an underground global trade that kills tens of millions of wild birds, mammals and reptiles each year to supply multi-billion dollar markets around the world.
The United States and Europe are among the largest buyers of elephant ivory and parts of tigers, frogs, monkeys and game (commonly referred to as bushmeat). all over the world in Southeast Asia, the Russian Far East, Africa and even North America.Cambridgewildlife.ca
Rapid development and growing wealth create the demand for more commercial hunting and trapping; an increase in international trade; the emergence of increasingly sophisticated smuggling networks; an influx of weapons and technology; and easier access to wilderness thanks to the construction of roads by the extractive industries. The opening up of the Laotian economy, like other indigenous economies around the world, has put a price on the heads of virtually all animals, from river insects to tigers.
The overexploitation of wildlife for trade must be addressed in a respectful, sensitive, effective and fair and honest way for the local population. This is a large and delicate educational and economic challenge that has the potential to pave the way for external investment that has recently become a flood. Like other forest-dependent people, rural Laos has long relied on hunting to supplement their rice-based diet with protein. But the opening up of the economy has put a price on the heads of virtually every animal, from riverine insects to tigers. This, coupled with a lack of wildlife education and conservation, combined with an abundance of advanced weapons from years of war, has provided hunters with the incentive and tools to convert rich biodiversity into money.
This scenario has been repeated around the world many times a day and the result both on land and in the air has become poorer as these animals, plants, insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians are silent because we have chosen this consumer mentality, but we can make and we are making better choices.
Everyone can help.