October 2006- The Tibet Express, the railway that connects China and Tibet, is fostering illegal commerce and promoting the extinction of endangered species through providing smugglers with faster and safer access to rich clients in Beijing who are interested in buying poached animal products. The railroad was constructed for the purpose of making the transport of goods easier and thus creating closer economic links between China and Tibet; unfortunately, this benefit also applies to gray market activity.
Smugglers are now able to transport poached snow leopard and tiger pelts from the mountains of Nepal to wealthy buyers on the streets of Beijing in a much more efficient manner. In an investigation conducted by the Sunday Telegraph in China, it was found that poachers can fill orders for tiger skins in only ten days. Before the advent of the railroad, the journey was much longer and more dangerous and therefore deterred smuggling. Authorities often turn a blind eye to these activities, making laws against smuggling largely ineffective.
To read more, see Tibet Express Puts Leopards on Fast Track to Extinction on the Carnivore Conservation Portal.