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AbstractUnsustainable wildlife trade is a well-publicized area of international concern in Laos. Historically rich in both ethnic and biological diversity, Laos has emerged in recent years as a nexus for cross-border trade in floral and faunal wildlife, including endangered and threatened species. However, there has been little sustained research into the scale and scope of consumption of wildlife by Laos nationals themselves. Here, we conducted 100 semistructured interviews to gain a snapshot of consumption of wildlife in northern Laos, where international and in some cases illegal wildlife trade is known to occur. We found that although bear bile for medicine was the most common product consumed, individuals also used a variety of other products, including animals considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN. The majority of animals we found consumed are classified as “Vulnerable” or “Least Threatened” by the IUCN; however, sufficient demand for a species can cause increased, rapid decline in the species’ population and significantly increase the challenge of conserving them. These results therefore illuminate where conservation priorities should shift towards, so that stable-yet-consumed species do not mirror the fate of highly trafficked animals.
DescriptionAlthough unsustainable wildlife consumption is a leading threat to biodiversity in Southeast Asia, there is still a notable lack of research around the issue, particularly into which animals may be “on the horizon” of impending conservation concern. Using semistructured interviews, we investigated the consumption of wildlife in northern Laos, with a focus on the use of wildlife for medicinal purposes. Bear bile was the most popular product, but serow bile was second in popularity and used for similar ailments. In light of these results, and considering the vulnerability of both bear and serow populations in the wild, greater concern needs to be taken to reduce demand for these products, before this demand becomes a significant conservation challenge.
Rights© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).