What should be done to prevent the illegal hunting and sale of wild animals?
Although the hunting and sale of endangered wild animals is illegal, reports of illicit activities occur almost every day. Vientiane Times asked members of the public what they think about the current status of wildlife preservation in Laos and what should be done to protect animals and their habitat.

 

Mr Phaisouk Kavikham, a student in Huaphan province: The number of wild animals in Laos has decreased dramatically. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that animals and birds are systematically slaughtered, both for sale and for food. We know it’s illegal to hunt and sell them, but it’s a fact that endangered species are on sale at markets in rural and urban areas. The authorities should do more to curb the trade in wildlife by penalising both hunters and sellers. I urge people not to catch or kill animals that are pregnant or to hunt them in the breeding season, because that causes wildlife populations to dwindle even further.

Mr Vansom Vannasarn, a government official in Chanthabouly district, Vientiane: I have heard about hunting weapons being seized and destroyed by police, along with punishment for the hunters and sellers. Even though the authorities are trying to tackle this issue, this problem continues. I think it’s common for several reasons, such as hunting being the main livelihood for rural people who have no other work. If possible, we should encourage them to do other things and help them to understand the importance of wildlife and how protect and preserve wild animals. 

Mr Ded Thepphavong, a student in Xayaboury province: Wild animals are a crucial part of the natural ecology, but they also provide people with nutritious food and are an important source of protein. But huge numbers of animals have been killed off. It’s not because there are more people in Laos but because we don’t care enough about wildlife, and animals are also killed because some waterways are severely polluted by effluent and chemicals from factories. Wild animals have to contend with more and more challenges from humans, and many species are disappearing because the laws protecting them are not enforced.

Ms Chanthaphone Ounkhamthip, a student in Vientiane: These days you don’t often see wild animals such as wild boar, deer, and water buffalo in our forests but you do see them in markets, even though it’s illegal to sell them. We should get serious about this problem and think about what we can do to stop the hunting and sale of wild animals, so that people fear the law. The condition of aquatic animals is not as bad because there are conservation areas in some rivers and lakes, and recently people in the south have stopped using bamboo fish traps. But the authorities should do more to combat illegal fishing methods such as the use of electric shocks, as this is common in urban and rural areas.

Mr Souban Boulommavong, a resident of Hadxaifong district: The authorities seem to be paying more attention to the conservation of forests and swamps to try to stop trees being cut down as these areas are home to lots of wildlife, and hunting is illegal. But I often see many kinds of animals on sale in the markets, including highly endangered species. You can see on the internet that Laos has a high volume of illegal wildlife trade compared to other countries. Aquatic species also have problems because of the chemicals used on crop plantations and in factories, which contaminate rivers. Fishermen use harmful methods to catch fish, such as electricity, poison and even explosives. All of this must be stopped if we want to preserve our wildlife.

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update September 13, 2018)


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