The sad face of wildlife kept as pets in Thailand.

News about wild animals, both good and bad, made the headlines from time to time in 2016, and both the authorities and academics have shared a common concern on illegal wildlife trade, especially as more people are interested in keeping wild animals as pets.

Also, a large number of deaths among rare animals and threat to the survival of several species from the loss of habitat, pollution and illegal hunting have been a great concern over the past year.

The black market for wild animals has been a huge problem this year, as it is very difficult for officers to track down the sellers and arrest them.

The authorities are keen to crack down on illegal wildlife trade in any form. The major success this year was the suppression of tiger trade and successfully raiding and rescuing tigers from the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi.

Dealing with wild-animal trade for pets is a huge challenge. The Chatuchak pet market has been raided on several occasions to arrest the sellers, but now, in this digital age, the wild-animal black market has already moved online and is making the work harder.

Despite the difficulty in tracking down and arresting online offenders,  the police had successfully investigated the sale of wildlife online, arrested a trafficker last Friday and rescued two baby orangutans, which were smuggled from Indonesia.

The biggest problem for the country’s wildlife situation this year was the rising popularity of wild animals as pets.

This craze has increased the demand for cute wild animals such as otters, loris or hornbills, and has encouraged smugglers to capture these animals and sell them online. Unfortunately, the authorities do not have enough manpower to check on this crime on the Net.

It is not just the sale of wild animals as pets but also the demand for animal parts in traditional medicine and aphrodisiac in East Asian countries that led to a significant drop in the numbers of rare animals this year.

In recent years, the number of helmeted hornbills in the wild have dropped greatly due to a huge demand for its beak in China, which has led to a mass hunting of this rare bird species. Things are so bad that this species was ranked as critically endangered this year.

The tactic now is to campaign and make people aware that owning wild animals as pets or buying products from wild animals is wrong. However, cooperation from people is necessary in order to protect these endangered animals.

This year, Thailand witnessed several tragedies, such as the mass death of giant freshwater stingrays in the Mae Klong River(reported earlier in the year), the unsuccessful mating of the last pair of Gurney’s Pitta bird in Thailand or the death of the last dugong in the Gulf of Thailand – all due to human activities.

On the bright side,  sarus cranes have been successfully reintroduced into the wild in Buriram, after this rare bird species had more or less vanished from nature for decades.

Sarus cranes back in Buriram.

The number of rare animals in many national parks have also increased such as gaurs in Kui Buri National Park and tigers in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary – all an indication that the preservation efforts by officers have proved to be a success.

Next year, the Department the protection of wild animals will be increased by drafting a new amendment to the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act to include restrictions on the ownership and breeding of wild animals.

(Source:The Nation, Thailand)

By Juninho