An Assessment of Wildlife Trade in Central Asia – Wildlife Trade Report from TRAFFIC

An Assessment of Wildlife Trade in Central Asia – Wildlife Trade Report from TRAFFIC

Central Asia boasts a remarkable array of ecosystems, harbouring a diverse range of animals, plants and fungi, from majestic Saker falcons to the slow Steppe Tortoises alongside the unique Saiga antelope and various wild species of Bovidae, including Argali Mountain sheep and Siberian Ibex and plants like liquorice root that is used in herbal remedies and teas globally. While the assessment primarily focuses on the trade in animal and plant species listed in CITES Appendices, it also encompasses information on nationally protected but non-CITES-listed species.

The report, part of a trio of Central Asia publications, identifies several species that frequently appear in country seizure records, indicating the need for regional collaboration to combat illegal trade.

Notably, the Saiga Antelope emerges as the most frequently reported species in seizure records from government agencies in Kazakhstan, with smaller records in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The Saker Falcon also features prominently in seizure records from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, with additional reports of live falcons seized upon import to the UAE from Tajikistan. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have seized several thousand live specimens of the Steppe Tortoise.

Beyond providing a comprehensive overview of wild species trade, the study aims to identify common challenges and propose solutions to assist national agencies in coordinating efforts to combat illegal trade while effectively managing and regulating legal wild species trade.

Left: Saiga Antelope | Centre: Saker Falcon © Frank Güldner – Flickr | Right: Steppe Tortiose © Maksim Koshkins

Under CITES legal trade, the report shows that:

Uzbekistan

  • is a prominent source country for CITES-listed species, with importers reporting ~740,000 specimens (98% of all imports reported by a number from the four countries) between 2012 and 2020.
  • importing the largest quantity of CITES-listed whole specimens, ~1.2 million.
  • re-exports of CITES-listed species are rarely reported from Uzbekistan.

Kazakhstan

  • is not a prominent source country for CITES-listed species; other countries only reported imports of ~2,200 commodities from whole specimens from the country – primarily live specimens and ~130 trophies between 2012 and 2020.
  • imported the largest quantity of CITES-listed parts and derivatives, ~70,000 kg, with an additional ~18,900 whole specimens between 2012 and 2020.
  • re-exports of CITES-listed species are rarely reported from Kazakhstan.

Kyrgyzstan

  • is not a prominent source country for CITES-listed species, reporting direct imports of ~1,200 whole specimens – mostly trophies from Siberian Ibex, Argali, and Marco Polo Sheep from Kyrgyzstan between 2012 and 2020.
  • imported ~68,500 kg of CITES-listed parts and derivatives between 2015 and 2020.
  • is a prominent re-exporting country for legal wild species trade in the region, as from 2017 onwards, most of these commodities were subsequently re-exported.

Tajikistan

  • imports the smallest quantities of CITES-listed wild species with only ~4,000 whole specimens and ~150 kg of specimens from parts and derivatives between 2012 and 2021.

The report, in conjunction with two other Central Asia reports, recommends building cooperation between countries, implementing targeted enforcement actions, and offers country-specific recommendations.

This analysis urges stakeholders to join forces in preserving the unique biodiversity of Central Asia and safeguarding its wild species from illegal trade.

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