Lao Prime Minister Tightens Regulations Against Wildlife Trafficking
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has issued an order to tighten regulations against hunting and trade of protected wildlife. Individuals or groups that breach the order are to be arrested and prosecuted.
The PM issued the Order for Increased Stringency in Management and Inspection of Protected Wild Fauna and Flora, No. 05/PM, on 08 May this year. The order was issued to tighten implementation of forest plant and wildlife protection, especially those species which are classified as endangered.
The order is intended to ensure measures are compliant with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Fora (CTIES) to which the Lao PDR is a party.
The order firstly calls upon all ministries and sectors to increase vigilance and take further responsibility when inspecting and taking measures against those who violate regulations regarding the trade of protected species.
It then orders the cessation of hunting of all species under protected species status, and orders the cessation of import, export, and trade of wild animals and plants.
The farming of protected species is also strictly forbidden under the order, and existing farms are to be converted into safari parks or zoos. This will allow the farms to become tourism sites and provide opportunities for further study of certain species.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been tasked with investigating and targeting shops and marketplaces known for trading in wild animals, particularly those offering bones, skin, horns, teeth, claws, gall bladder, etc.
Meanwhile, border checkpoints and police officers are being instructed to increase vigilance regarding inspections for trafficking of wild animals and plants. Any immigration officers found aiding or assisting wildlife traffickers will be immediately arrested and prosecuted.
The new, stricter regulations are to be disseminated in rural areas by local authorities to ensure understanding by all parties, with the hope of dissuading hunters and poachers.