Police Crack Down on Illegal Animal Trade in London

Operation Charm, an effort to target the illegal trade in traditional Chinese medicines that contain ingredients derived from endangered species, is seeing results in London. Since its launch 10 years ago, it has seized more than 30,000 products that incorporate endangered animal parts. The Chinese population in London is supportive of this campaign and condemns the use of endangered species in medicines.

Earlier this month, a rare fur dealer in Camden Town, an area of North London, was found selling coats made from tiger, leopard, and snow leopard furs. He was taken into custody and released on bail.

For more information on the raid in Camden, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/6112688.stm

For more information on Operation Charm, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6155244.stm and http://www.operationcharm.org/


Faisal Saleh Hayat Meets Leo the Snow Leopard

August 1, 2007- Pakistan’s Federal Minister for the Environment Faisal Saleh Hayat, after spending much of last week in the US capital and taking care to stay away from the Pakistani press based here, has surfaced in the Bronx zoo, where, according to an official press release, he met Leo the snow leopard.

While nothing is known about Leo’s reaction, the minister is said to have been “delighted”. Leo was gifted to the Bronx zoo last year. He has not been short of distinguished visitors from the home country, having been visited by Begum Pervez Musharraf a month after his arrival and the minister of state for the environment, Malik Amin Aslam, not much later.

Leo, who was found in the care of a shepherd in the Northern Areas’ Natar Valley, was flown to New York in August 2006 under an agreement signed between the Northern Areas administration and the Wildlife Conservation Society of USA. He may be returned to Pakistan a few years from now, hopefully with a she snow leopard.

Source: The Daily Times

Ecotourism Supports Ladakh Residents

In the remote Ladakh region of India, the “Himalayan Homestays” program offers an alternate source of income to residents whose livestock is sometimes threatened by snow leopard predation. Himalayan Homestays give tourists the opportunity to experience firsthand the traditional lifestyle of the villagers in Ladakh, while the income they generate relieves the financial stress of livestock loss and therefore decreases the incentive for villagers to kill snow leopards.

The Mountain Institute and Snow Leopard Conservancy, both organizational members of the Snow Leopard Network, implemented this program to great success five years ago. Since then, it has become the local model for eco-tourism. In addition to providing a bed and meals, guides are available to lead hikes and point out snow leopard signs.

For more information, see Eco-tourists take to village life in India’s ‘Little Tibet’ or check out the Himalayan Homestays web site.

China, India and Nepal work together to address illegal trans-boundary wildlife trade

From the TRAFFIC Newsroom:

China, India and Nepal are all Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and all three have legal and institutional instruments in place to address wildlife trade issues. However, illegal wildlife trade has become more organized, demand has increased for wildlife and their products and smugglers have more sophisticated systems for transporting consignments. In order to combat this worrying trend driven by increased, international demand, it is now urgent for all three countries to step up efforts such as enforcement at cross-national borders, regional level advocacy, policy analysis as well as collaboration with non-conventional stakeholders such as transport companies.

During the one-day workshop last week, delegates from India, Nepal and China each gave an overview of wildlife trade related issues in their countries. In addition, NGOs working in China – including TRAFFIC, CI, IFAW and WCS – discussed their wildlife trade programmes in China. TRAFFIC introduced the Asian big cats initiative in the region with focus on strengthening enforcement capacity and trans-boundary collaborations. Continuing trade in Asian big cats and their parts, particularly trade in Tiger and Tiger parts, was noted being of a particular concern, feeding into the markets of traditional Chinese medicine and skin trade. Examples of other species of concern from the region noted included rhinos, elephants, and Tibetan Antelope.

“There is a lot of work that needs doing in order to curb down the illegal trade, increase trans-boundary co-operation, improve the law enforcement efforts and establish active networks for communication and information sharing,” said Dr Craig Kirkpatrick, Director of TRAFFIC in East Asia.

“However, to hear so many diverse views on wildlife trade shared openly in a multi-lateral forum is an extremely positive step to right direction and demonstrates political will and collaborative approach shared by all three key countries. China, India and Nepal are now in a position to urgently and effectively address the growing concern of illegal wildlife trade, which continues to filter through this key wildlife trade hotspot of Asia”

For further information:
Caroline Liou, TRAFFIC East Asia – China Programme. Tel: +86 10-6522-7100 ext. 3239, +86 1370-120-4254 email:

Maija Sirola, TRAFFIC International (UK). TEl. +44 (0)1223 277427 email: maija.sirola@trafficint.org

1The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), was established in 1973 to regulate the international trade in wildlife. This treaty uses a system of permits to control trade in some 30 000 wild species internationally, to prohibit commercial trade in the rarest and regulate trade in others, to ensure that the trade is sustainable and does not lead to the species becoming threatened. See

2TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of WWF and IUCN-the World Conservation Union. See www.traffic.org


Insurgency benefits Kashmir wildlife

Many species of Kashmiri animals have greatly benefited from the paramilitary activity that has been taking place in the region since the late 1980’s, with populations rising 20-60 per cent.

There are two reasons for this increase in population. Firstly, local residents were required to turn in their arms when conflict broke out, leaving potential poachers weaponless and thus unable to illegally hunt. Secondly, very few people now venture into the forest for fear of encountering conflicting insurgents. As a result of this, local wildlife populations have been relatively isolated from human interference.

Snow leopard and leopard populations have increased in this region, in addition to bears, two species of deer and many birds.

For more information, see the BBC article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6169969.stm.


Unprecedented Loss of Mongolia’s Mammals

The first official Red List of threatened species in Mongolia was presented at a Zoological Society of London lecture on Tuesday, 12 December. The list includes snow leopards as well bears, marmots, many wild ungulates, and even fish.

Populations of Mongolia’s threatened species have been declining since the breakup of the Soviet Union due to decreased law enforcement mechanisms and widespread financial hardship. Mining and logging also have a significant impact.

However, there is hope for the recovery of Mongolia’s wildlife. The Zoological Society of London meeting produced action plans for the conservation of all the species. Similar policies have been successful before, as in the case of the 250 member Przewakski’s horse population, which is thriving after being classified as extinct in 1996 and subsequently reintroduced into the wild.

For more information, see Unprecedented Loss of Mongolia’s Mammals on the Zoological Society of London web site.

Scientists Begin Radio Collaring Study

November 2006- Snow Leopard Trust scientists are currently conducting a radio collaring study of Snow Leopards in the Chitral Gol National Park area in Pakistan.  Five radio collars will be placed on snow leopards over the next couple months, enabling their exact positions and patterns of movement to be monitored. This project is being carried out by Dr. Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network, Dr. Javed Khan, SLN member, and Dr. Jaffar, who is also a member of the SLN. This project is taking place in cooperation with several other conservation organizations including WWF Pakistan and Pakistan‘s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) Wildlife Department.

This study is instrument in answering lingering questions about snow leopards’ habits and identifying new methods of easing the financial burden on local people whose livestock are at risk from snow leopard predation.

For more information, see the WWF Pakistan web site at http://www.wwfpak.org/16-11-06snowleopard_radio.php



This story was published in the Hanford Courant and called to our attention by
Professor Richard Benfield:
October 2006- Afghanistan has already seen some of its cultural treasures, such as the
Buddhas of Bamiyan, destroyed by the Taliban. And it has watched as
ancient artifacts have been looted from the country since the U.S.
invasion in 2001.
Now, it's in danger of seeing an endangered species -- the snow leopard
-- hunted into extinction.
High in the Pamir Mountains in northeastern Afghanistan, men like
Attaullah hunt down the animal. He'll not only sell off its valuable
pelt but also the cat's paws, bones and internal organs, which are
highly prized for use in traditional Chinese medicines.
While no one is exactly sure how many of the creatures remain in the
wild, organizations such as the Snow Leopard Conservancy estimate that
between 4,500 and 7,500 remain in 12 countries in Central Asia,
including Afghanistan.
Some of the cats are thought to have been killed by U.S. bombs during
the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. But it's hunters like Ataullah, who
like many Afghans uses only one name, who are the cat's main threat
“Going after a snow leopard is the ultimate for any hunter,'' said
Ataullah, 44. “Sometimes we won't find one for three months. It depends
on the luck of the individual.''
A ban on hunting the animal imposed by President Hamed Karzai appears to
have had little effect so far.
“If the hunting of certain rare animals like the snow leopard ...
continues, they will rapidly be wiped out,'' warned Dost Mohammad Amin,
the deputy head of the Afghan Environment Protection Department.
It's easy to understand why hunters like Ataullah go after their prey.
He said he expects to get $100 for the cat's body parts and an
additional $900 for its pelt. For that kind of money, hunters are
prepared to invest time, money and effort in securing a kill.
“Sometimes we'll wait a month to go after a good specimen, because
valuable animals are scarce and it's very hard to hunt them,'' Attaullah
said. “We start out in July when the roads become clear of snow. We
have special hunting rifles that we've bought in Pakistan and we wait
for the animal we want.''
Attaullah contends that the amount of money he can earn with just one
catch makes it worth the wait. “I caught a snow leopard in the Pamirs
this summer and I'll earn $1,000,'' he said. “I'd never make that
amount by doing anything else.''
When not stalking snow leopards, Attaullah said he goes after Marco Polo
sheep, another endangered species, to put food on his table.
During the 1970s, Marco Polo sheep -- the largest in the world -- were a
favorite trophy of hunters who traveled from all around the world to bag
the animal and display its massive horns on their walls at home.
Today, Attaullah said the sheep will provide his family with several
delicious meals and $200 in cash for its hide.
Attaulah scoffs at the notion of a ban on hunting endangered species.
“This hunting has been going on for thousands of years. If the
population of these animals were in decline, there wouldn't be any
left,'' he insisted. ``It is just an excuse by powerful men who want to
stop us hunting so that they can keep the (game animals) for
Because both species live in largely unpopulated areas, far beyond the
reach of either the central or regional governments, there's not much
officials have been able to do so far to halt the poaching.
There is some hope, however, of protecting the endangered species. Amin
of the environmental ministry said that Afghanistan, Tajikistan and
China met over the summer to discuss the creation of a multinational
game reserve, called the Pamir International Peace Park, to help save
vulnerable species.
“A conference in Dushanbe held in mid-July decided that all mountain
regions where rare animals live in these three countries will be
declared a Peace Park, and no one will be allowed to enter it,'' Amin
Attaullah doesn't think much of the plan.
“These animals are wild and free,'' he said. ``One day they're in one
place; the next day they're somewhere else. If they feel confined,
they'll become depressed and may leave the area altogether, or they may
pine and die, which is much worse than being hunted.''

Tibet Express Puts Snow Leopards on Fast Track to Extinction

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.

SCB Offers Free Access to Publications

The Society for Conservation Biology is now offering access to publications for SCB 
members in developing countries to offset the high cost of subscribing to academic journals. 
Although access is free to those members, the membership fee is only 10 USD for those in 
developing countries, thus ensuring affordable access for those who would otherwise have to
 stand outrageous expenses to carry out research.
For more information, see the press release below.
1. Press Release: FREE Online Access to Publications for Developing 
Country SCB Members
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - http://www.conbio.org/media/benefits/
Contact: Alan Thornhill
(703) 276-2384
The Society for Conservation Biology, in collaboration with 
Blackwell Publishing and Elsevier Publishing, announces that online 
access to Conservation Biology, Conservation In Practice, and 
Biological Conservation is now free to SCB members in developing 
countries. Elsevier has also added Ecological Indicators, Ecological 
Complexity, and Ecological Informatics to the free publications. SCB 
is also negotiating to acquire similar access to a suite of other 
conservation-related journals from a variety of publishers, 
including additional titles from Blackwell and Elsevier.
Providing free access to conservation publications will greatly 
benefit our conservation colleagues in developing countries 
worldwide. Conservationists in developing countries want to do 
effective conservation work, but many cannot afford scientific 
publications and do not have access via their institutions. "The 
destruction of biodiversity worldwide is so rapid that there is no 
time to waste. Information must get out to conservationists who 
otherwise would not have access. SCB is leading the way in making 
scientific information available to conservation professionals and 
students in developing countries," said SCB Executive Director, Dr. 
Alan Thornhill.
Thanks to a grant from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), SCB is able to 
offer free memberships to a large number of conservationists in 
developing countries and therefore provide access to the growing 
list of free conservation publications. Jonathan Adams, Program 
Director for Conservation Knowledge and Communities at TNC said, 
"It's extremely important that conservation professionals have 
access to current scientific information. Much of the Earth's 
biodiversity can be found in developing countries, and scientists 
there often cannot get the most current information either about the 
species themselves or about the tools that are available to conserve 
For updates and more information on these great new benefits, check 
the upcoming SCB newsletter and the SCB website: http://conbio.org. 
For further information, contact Dr. Alan Thornhill, Society for 
Conservation Biology at athornhill@conbio.org or (703) 276-2384 or 
Jonathan Adams, The Nature Conservancy at jadams@tnc.org or (301)