Ornamental bird trade a threat to wild species in Vietnam: survey

By Minh Nga   September 21, 2017 | 11:35 am GMT+7
Ornamental bird trade a threat to wild species in Vietnam: survey
Mobile sellers on motorcyles peddling birds. Photo courtesy of TRAFFIC

Only 10 percent of popular species in Vietnam are protected by trade regulations.

A recent survey has found massive holes in regulations governing the trade in ornamental birds in Vietnam.

Researchers at TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, found more than 115 species of birds for sale in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in April last year.

Of the thousands of birds observed, over 99 percent were species native to Vietnam, while regulations only cover 10 percent of the total, TRAFFIC said in a statement released on Thursday.

“The survey's findings are consistent with a thriving demand for native birds within Vietnam. However, as trade in most of the species seen is not regulated by law, it means large numbers of birds are being extracted with no oversight of sustainability or how severely it will impact wild populations,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, acting regional director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

She said the survey showed a rise in the number of species and volume of birds for sale since previous studies in 1991, 1998, 2001 and 2008. The volumes, the array of species and the high number of immature individuals for sale were all signs of the need for improved monitoring of the trade, including regulations on offtake and oversight of any ranching or captive breeding operations.

The scaly-breasted munia, which accounted for 21 percent, and the red-whiskered bulbuls, making up 15 percent, were the most commonly spotted during the survey, collectively reaching close to 3,000 individuals and both legally tradable.

The latter species, popular in the cage-bird trade, was also one of the most abundant species recorded in the Singapore and Bangkok bird markets, according to TRAFFIC, a strategic alliance between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund.

Meanwhile, seven species recorded in the two cities are recognized in the Conservation Strategy for Southeast Asian Songbirds in Trade as being directly threatened by trade in the region.

They are the white-rumped shama, the oriental white-eye, the oriental magpie-robin, the silver-eared mesia, the common hill myna, the java sparrow and the Asian fairy bluebird.

TRAFFIC’s report recommends improved monitoring and regulation of the harvest and trade of wild species to ensure they do not negatively affect wild populations.

It specifically called for Vietnam to update its current legislation to include range-restricted endemic birds and species assessed as globally threatened in the IUCN Red List within its own protected species lists.

“TRAFFIC stands ready to support Vietnamese authorities in any effort to review and strengthen current regulations. We will continue to provide information on the levels of bird trade in Vietnam, and this critical knowledge will help to identify the need and urgency to adjust policies and regulations so that Vietnam meets its international commitments on conserving biodiversity,” said Madelon Willemsen, head of TRAFFIC’s Vietnam office.

This report is an inventory of birds for sale in Hanoi and HCMC, marking TRAFFIC’s sixth inventory of notable bird markets in the Southeast Asian region. The others were carried out in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

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