Southeast Asian Farms and the United States: What Can Be Done? A New York Times article by Rachel Nuwer details the problems of “animal farms” in Southeast Asia that represent a threat to tigers, bears, and other species. These “farms” are often presented as “zoos” or as a means of preserving “wild” tigers and bears by meeting demands from the “farmed” animals. But the article (and much other research) challenges this assertion for two major reasons. First, despite their argument that many of these animals (including reptiles) have been raised on the farms, there is strong evidence that actually a large percentage if not a big majority have been captured in the wild. Moreover, wild populations of tigers have vanished ort declined to tiny numbers despite the existence of these farms. Secondly, the article cites experts contention that the existence of these “farms” legitimizes the illegal sale of tigers and other wildlife parts since it allows illegal traffickers to claim that the animal parts are drawn from legal farm-raised populations. Moreover, the article cites strong evidence that many of the Southeast Asian governments such as Laos do not have the capability (and also the desire due to the political connections of the traffickers) to manage these “legal” farms. I discuss these issues in much more detail in Chapters 7 & 8 of my wildlife politics book. At some of the farms, food and products from endangered species are “offered”: “…restaurants…still offered expensive plates of bear paw, pangolin (an endangered scaly mammal) and sautéed tiger meat, which can be paired with tiger wine, a grain-based concoction in which the cats’ penises, bones or entire skeletons are soaked for months. The article has several pictures of wildlife living on the farms. Though the article focuses on Southeast Asia, it concludes with the fact that though the United States has tried to encourage stopping the illegal activities and discourage the bad effects of these “farms,” the U.S. has a problem itself: It is available as follows: “An estimated 5,000 tigers are held in backyards, petting zoos and even truck stops across the United States.” Thus the Southeast Asian countries can respond to the U.S. “finger pointing” by arguing we are hypocrites. Check out the article and the accompanying photos at: Rachel Nuwer. Animal Farms in Southeast Asia Fuel an Illegal Trade in Rare Wildlife. New York Times, June 5, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/05/science/animal-farms-southeast-asia-endangered-animals.html
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