Source: Vientiane Times
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Livestock and Fisheries Department has once again asked fishermen to help preserve protected wildlife and aquatic species in Laos.
The warning comes in the wake of an image of a fisherman with a giant Mekong Stingray being posted on Facebook this week.
The ray measuring over 2 metres across and estimated at over 70 kg in weight was caught recently by a local fisherman in Donnangloy village, Mounlapamok district, Champassak province, according to a local villager.
The department’s Deputy Director Mr Bounthong Saphakdy told Vientiane Times yesterday that despite concerted efforts by officials to prevent the illegal trade in wildlife and aquatic species through regular inspections in markets, hotels and restaurants around the country, the trade is still flourishing unchecked.
While the government is working to preserve aquatic animals and wildlife and protected areas, the sight of wild fauna for sale at markets is a real turnoff for foreign tourists, with Laos’ diversity of nature being one of the nation’s major drawcards.
Mr Bounthong said authorities had asked fishermen and traders to protect wildlife so that unique threatened species did not disappear from the country.
“Protecting our natural resources, particularly wildlife and aquatic creatures, is essential to ensuring sustainable food supplies,” he said.
Mr Boun thong explained that many animal species in Laos face a high risk of extinction, because they are hunted on a daily basis by rural people. These species are regularly sold to individuals and restaurants.
“We also put up posters in schools, markets and bus stations to let people know about the harm caused by this illegal trade. We travel to places that we know have a big trade in wildlife,” he added.
The objective is to raise public awareness about wildlife and aquatic species protection along with the diseases that can be contracted by eating wildlife and aquatic species.
The authorities are encouraging restaurants and other places to cooperate with them in enforcing control measures.
Recently, the government warned poachers, traders and businesses not to hunt, sell or display prohibited or protected wildlife and aquatic species, including live animals, carcasses, their remains or their organs.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment issued an order that prohibits all parties from involvement in all forms of illegal activity with regard to protected species.
The ministry instructed central and local officials to employ necessary measures to prevent all parties from hunting all kinds of fish and animals from May 1 to October 31 – the annual breeding season.