The illegal hunting of wild cats is flourishing in Burma. The biggest buyer of wild cat parts is China.

TRAFFIC [the wildlife trade monitoring network] called on the Burmese authorities to clampdown on the illicit trade by:

• Closing down markets where the parts are on sale and prosecuting the dealers.
• Working with other neighbouring countries to end the international trade.
• Trained staff being more vigilant at airports and border points.
• Regular and systematic monitoring of markets by NGOs working with the authorities.
• Revising existing laws and enforcing all CITES regulations.
• Clarifying the status of the Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat and Jungle Cat.

It is a difficult issue to get moral about except as it concerns governments. Just as some Afghan farmers grow poppies and some Africans illegally hunt wild game, the Burmese tiger hunters are desperately poor and there is a nearby commodity for which people are willing to pay big money. The war on drugs will never be won by burning coca plants in Colombia. As long as the demand exists and commodity prices are high, the traffic will find a way to get through. But there is little hope the Burmese government will do anything positive about this, or China, just as the United States runs a hopeless and backward war on drugs.

The Guardian, one of the best newspapers in the world, discusses Burma’s acute misery:

Today [Thursday, October 16th], the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s World Food Day obliges the world and its leaders to consider the issue of global hunger. A particular theme this year is climate change and its impact on poverty and hunger. While the role of climate change is significant, the matter of political will casts a broader shadow across world hunger. This year’s World Food Day is, as a result, somewhat hollow.

Burma stands as a case study for the combined effects of poverty and hunger, climate change and politics. In short, the stresses created by these dynamics have created a collapsing system in which the majority of Burmese are in danger of being crushed.

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