Laos to discuss phasing out tiger farms after criticism at CITES

Posted on September, 23 2016

Country must take decisive action to close them down
During today's CITES Standing Committee meeting, Laos announced its intention to discuss ways of phasing out its tiger and bear farms.

The decision comes after Laos received criticism from CITES about the lack of action to date to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade.

“Laos’ announcement that it is discussing ways to phase out its tiger farms is a welcome first step that needs to be followed with decisive action," said Heather Sohl, WWF-UK’s chief advisor on wildlife comments.

"WWF is calling for urgent action to close tiger farms across Asia. These facilities fuel the illegal tiger trade and pose a serious threat to wild populations. Laos can show leadership if these discussions result in the timely closure of its tiger farms and eradication of all illegal wildlife trade."

"We look forward to working with the government to develop a clear approach and timeframe to a complete tiger farm phase out," added Sohl.

In two new reports by TRAFFIC and a further report by CITES it is evident Laos must take action to halt the high levels of illegal wildlife trade across the country.

Amongst its recommendations the CITES report highlights critical gaps in legislative coverage, a lack of law enforcement effort and a need to work with neighbouring countries to address transboundary trafficking of species.

It also raises concerns 'that rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and other wildlife specimens are smuggled through Laos to other countries in Asia…the country is targeted by organized crime groups as a transit point'.

It is encouraging that the new Prime Minister of Laos is taking steps to tackle some critical issues. These include measures to stop illegal logging and timber trade, address bear and tiger farms, as well as improved ranger training and developing new technology for reporting illegal wildlife trade.

Given Laos’ difficult history with tackling the illegal wildlife trade, WWF is looking forward to working closely with the Government on promising developments that we hope will result in substantial change.
Tiger portrait
© David Lawson/WWF-UK