June 05, 2018

Don’t hunt or trade in prohibited wildlife, plants: PM

By:  By:  Souksakhone Vaenkeo, Vientiane Times, June 2, 2018

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has warned individuals and groups not to hunt or trade in prohibited and endangered wildlife and plant species, saying that violators will face strong measures.

The premier recently issued a four-page order instructing the relevant sectors to step up efforts to regulate and inspect prohibited wildlife and plant species.

He warned all parties to stop hunting wildlife and plant species named as prohibited in List I – the most rigorously prohibited out of three lists.

The import, export, transit, and trade of both living and dead species of these plants and animals, as well as their organs, is prohibited.

The prohibition is in line with the Law on Wildlife and Aquatic Animals, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Laos is a party.

Authorities in charge were told to take action to inspect any shops and other premises selling prohibited wildlife species or their organs in order to curb the trade.

In addition, the premier instructed the relevant departments to strictly regulate wildlife species prohibited in List II in accordance with the law and the CITES.

The premier also warned against the setting up of farms to rear the endangered species identified in List I for commercial purposes. Any existing commercial farm must be turned into an open farm (or Safari) or a zoo, to be used for ecotourism purposes or research activities.

Anyone wanting to set up a farm for wildlife identified in lists II or III must seek approval from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Director of the ministry’s Wildlife Management Division, Department of Forestry, Mr Sengrath Phirasack, welcomed the order, saying the measures were comprehensive and clear and would ease the division’s work.

“The law [Law on Wildlife and Aquatic Animals] is too general. This order interprets the law in detail,” he said.

He admitted it was necessary to continue campaigns to raise public awareness on the issue so that people knew which wildlife and plant species were endangered and that their hunting and trade was consequently prohibited.

Hunting is an income-generating activity for many people in some localities, and officials said these groups sometimes hunted prohibited animals because they were not aware they were classified as such.

Mr Thongloun told the ministry, in collaboration with the relevant departments, to carry out a survey and register the wildlife that local people had raised.

The authorities were also instructed to register wildlife organs and products made of elephant ivory and bone, as well as rhino horns that were in the possession of individuals, legal entities or organisations. But the Prime Ministerial Order does not say what to do with wildlife and their products found during the course of the survey.

The authorities were asked to inspect, seize and destroy hunting equipment. The sale of such equipment is also not permitted.

Mr Thongloun called for strict inspections and patrols along border areas, at border checkpoints, and in special economic zones to ensure there is no any wrongdoing in this regard.

Anyone found guilty must be prosecuted and penalised in line with the law.

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