Changes in public behavior are necessary in Myanmar to curb the increased illegal trafficking of wildlife online that poses major health risks and loss of biodiversity
21 July 2022, Yangon – Responding to a sharp increase in illegal wildlife trade online in Myanmar and across the Asia-Pacific region, WildAid has joined forces with WWF to launch a campaign called “The Price We Pay,” designed to reduce public demand for wildlife products and help prevent another pandemic.
Recent research by WWF’s Asia-Pacific office showed a 74% increase in Facebook posts selling wildlife items in Myanmar between 2020 and 2021. Of these posts, 71% of the listed species are “completely protected” under Myanmar’s 2018 Conservation of Biodiversity and Protected Areas law. This is despite a 2020 report by WWF identifying the Greater Mekong region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern province of Yunnan in China) to be hotspots for future zoonotic disease emergence – the kind of animal-to-people transmission that is implicated in the origin of COVID-19.
In a two-minute video released today, viewers are transported into the seedy world of wildlife trafficking that shows how people from across Myanmar are paying for this trade with their health. The video is designed to serve as a reminder of how much the world, and Myanmar specifically, has lost as a result of COVID-19 and what could be at stake if the wildlife trade continues.
Local wildlife expert and researcher Dr. Nay Myo Shwe, who is featured in the video and other communications materials, said, “Everything in nature has a purpose. Removing wildlife from their natural home harms our communities and our environment. We need to change our behaviour to ensure that Myanmar’s forests, rivers and skies will not be emptied of wildlife and that another pandemic is not added to the existing challenges in Myanmar.”
“If our behaviour doesn’t change, and people continue to keep wild animals as pets and eat wild meat, then we will all pay the price,” said John Baker, WildAid’s Chief Programme Officer. “We can expect human-animal disease transmission to negatively impact public health, as well as the livelihoods of the most marginalised populations around the globe.”
WWF is currently working with the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute and providing training to tour operators. The training covers the positive benefits of preserving wildlife species, how to stop the illegal wildlife trade in the tourism sector and details the legal and public health implications of the illegal wildlife trade.
“To protect not only wildlife but ourselves, it is essential that we work together to stop these crimes and conserve wildlife,” added Jan Vertefeuille, WWF-US Senior Advisor, Advocacy. “Removing wildlife from their natural homes harms not only them but the environments and ecosystems on which communities depend. If you want to protect and love wild animals, help keep them wild and safe where they belong.”
For this first-time collaboration between WildAid and WWF in Myanmar, the creators of the video – local agency Peach Marketing Consultancy – manipulated the body shape, fur and skin colour of a pre-existing 3D file of a monkey to more closely resemble a macaque species found in Myanmar. This allowed the agency to then generate images to create a stop motion animation, adding on 3D modelling. While commercials in Myanmar have previously been created using 3D technology, this is the first time it has been used for a wildlife-related behavior-change campaign in the country.
In addition to ‘The Price We Pay’ video, Viber has also lent its support to the campaign by releasing a series of stickers that anyone can use free of charge to further raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and the possible repercussions if it continues. The stickers, called ‘Phoe Nyan’ can be downloaded from https://vb.me/phoenyan_media
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Note to editors
Link to download media assets: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1P1NshDp5lnHSzQAKud4QKT6lOEejprXs?usp=sharing
Link to view ‘The Price We Pay’ Video:
For media inquiries please contact:
Saw Linn Htet
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WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in nearly 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. WWF-Myanmar opened in 2014, and our work includes wildlife and habitat conservation, green economy policy, renewable energy, freshwater conservation, and support to sustainable business.
WWF stands for the World Wide Fund for Nature (previously known as the World Wildlife Fund)
WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivalled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than US$200 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
About Dr. Nay Myo Shwe
Dr. Nay Myo Shwe has more than 24 years of valuable wildlife conservation knowledge and experience from Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries. He obtained his Phd in Conservation Ecology Programmes from King Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand. Dr Nay’s academic background and experience lies in conservation ecology, natural resource management, wildlife and protected area management. He has also published many peer-review papers on species, ecology and landscape conservation. Before joining WWF as the Head of Wildlife in Myanmar, he was employed by Flora and Fauna International as the Tanintharyi Conservation Programme Manager.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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