Tigers and Wild Cats for Sale in Myanmar: A Tale of Two Border Towns

Tigers at a water hole in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.
Wild Bengal tigers in India. (Photograph by Steve Winter/National Geographic)

Talking Tigers: Part 9 of a 12-part series

A decades-long investigation found that the illicit trade in tigers and other wild cats has been nearly shut down in Tachilek—a frontier town in eastern Myanmar—most likely because of heightened security across the border in Thailand. But the situation in Mong La, a lawless Burmese city on the Chinese border, is radically different. Over the past eight years, the number of shops selling cat parts and products has more than tripled.

This new report from TRAFFIC, an organization that monitors the global wildlife trade, confirms that Mong La is a major hub funneling wildlife products into China. Their findings illustrate the success of a boots-on-the-ground fight against trafficking—and show how lack of enforcement allows crime to flourish. The data was published in the journal Biological Conservation.

This study began when Chris Shepherd, who now heads TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia office, first visited Tachilek in the 1990s. The streets were lined with shops selling a staggering array of wildlife products. Tiger pelts hung on the walls. Tiger and leopard skulls, claws, and teeth, along with the skins of —> Read More Here


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