Every year millions of plants and animals are sold and traded illegally around the globe. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring group, estimates this industry runs much like a drug network profits billions of dollars every year. The World Wide Fund Nature (WWF) places this inhumane practice as the second-biggest direct threat to species after habitat destruction. The rarer the species the higher the demand, therefore, clients willing to pay a lot of money for the desired animal. Due to the nature of smuggling creatures from one country to another, the animals are often placed in dangerous conditions, with many dying in transit.
Laos Wildlife Rescue Center provides a safe habitat, wildlife hospitals, and food to the often abused creatures. The Center says many of the animals were “housed in horrible conditions for many years.”
The shelter operates through donations from all over the world. They believe the “illegal wildlife trade is at its worst.”
They continue their hard work of not only rescuing animals but want to have a direct impact in the country through education projects, assistance to law enforcement, as well as rescue and release programs.
LWRC is located approximately 60 kilometres north from the capital city of Vientiane.
Nonetheless, even those animals rescued, they are found in dire conditions, unable to survive.
They believe the gibbon is approximately a year old.
When the government officials found him, they wrapped him in blankets. The animal is seen here too scared and traumatized to let go of his blanket.
There are five other gibbons in the centre so Ee Ooo won’t be alone.
The northern white-cheeked gibbon was found in China, Vietnam, and Laos. However, they have been extinct in China since 2008.
Their fast decline in population is due to loss of habitat, as well as their illegal trade. They are sold as pets to entertain tourists as well as killed for their body parts which are then used for traditional medicine.
“Lao PDR clearly needs to address these issues as a matter of urgency or risk becoming dubbed the wildlife smuggling capital of Asia,” says Kanitha Krishnasamy, TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia senior programme officer.
Nonetheless, no arrest or prosecution over illegal wildlife trade has taken place since 2012.
LWRC wanta to build a play area where Ee Ooo can learn to climb and swing like a regular gibbon.
The northern white cheeked gibbon live within a family unit consisting of a mother, father, and siblings. The young do not leave their families until they are six years old and are ready to find a mate.
During the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that took place on Johannesburg, South Africa on September 23, 2016, it was revealed that the Laos government is not fulfilling its job to stop and curb illegal trading. 180 countries participated in the convention.
TRAFFIC is working collaboratively with Laotian and Chinese officials to halt the trade.
“TRAFFIC will continue to provide support for law enforcement agencies in both countries,” he confirmed.
“With an ever growing gibbon population we are currently fundraising to expand our facilities,” they posted.
“We hope one day Ee Ooo, and our other gorgeous gibbons may be returned to the wild when we identify suitable and strongly protected habitat,” LWRC states.