Asian Wildlife Trade

BCTF members have expressed a keen interest in expanding the focus of BCTF’s core mandate of information management to include broader issues of wildlife trade both within and outside of Africa . Nowhere is the trade in live animals and animal parts as large as in Asia. Asian countries' appetite for traditional medicines, pets, ivory and fur is so great that Africa and North America are both suppliers to legal and illegal markets. China's large, increasingly wealthy population has a similar effect on wildlife trade within Asia, where the forests and seas of Southeast Asia supply wildlife products which are increasingly difficult to find in China.

BCTF has developed the Asian Wildlife Trade IMAP initiative to capture information on wildlife trade involving Asia, building upon our existing databases that include peer-reviewed literature, media, project reports and project descriptions related to Asian wildlife trade.

About the Asian Wildlife Trade

Global trade in wildlife is estimated at US $10 billion annually- with the majority of trade being driven by consumer demand in the United States, European Union and China.  Species already face a range of threats including habitat destruction and climate change and wildlife trade has emerged in recent years as a major contributing cause of declining populations - and possibly extinction- for many species.  Not only is wildlife trade a threat to the survival of animals, but deadly diseases, such as SARS and Avian Flu, thrive from the human-wildlife contact that occurs in markets and commercial trade routes.
In Asia, species across all taxonomic groups face threat from trade for medicine, food consumption, clothing, ornamental use, magical and religious use, and live trade (for pets, zoos, circuses).  Many of these species are traded for multiple purposes, within the region as well as internationally.  Animal product use has been imbedded in some Asian cultures for thousands of years, while in other cultures use of these products is a new phenomenon and a way for an individual to display their status.  

  • Tiger populations have declined during the last century from 100,000 to an estimated 5,000 today 
  • Researchers estimate that upwards of 100,000 specimens are illegally trafficked out of Southeast Asia each year.
  • The trade of marine turtles for ornamental and medicinal use continues to increase in Southeast Asia.
  • An estimated 20,000 chiru (Tibetan Antelope) fall victim to poaching each year – their pelts are made into highly fashionable scarves.
  • Because the demand for traditional medicines can not be met by remaining wild populations, many endangered species (such as tigers, musk deer and bears) are raised on farms and ranches in order to supply the trade.

While many Asian countries are taking steps to reduce supply and diminish demand within their borders, live animals and their parts continue to be traded and sold openly and, in many cases, illegally in markets.

Please visit Asian Wildlife Trade IMAP (Information Management and Analysis Project) page for further information, including:

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