The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) and TRAFFIC on 19 February signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to intensify collaboration on areas of mutual interest, in particular on furthering the aims of EAZA’s Silent Forest campaign.
The Silent Forest campaign is focused on songbirds of Southeast Asia, which are being trapped and traded in unsustainable numbers to supply the domestic trade, particularly in Indonesia.
The birds are kept both as pets and for participating in bird singing competitions, but a number of species, including several that were formerly common, have disappeared from large parts of their Southeast Asia ranges because of excessive trapping. They include the Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis), Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus) and White-rumped Shama (Kittacincla malabarica).
EAZA’s campaign aims to address and mitigate the ongoing songbird crisis through providing the resources needed, scientific know-how and funding to save a growing number of Asian songbird species from imminent extinction.
Alongside BirdLife and the IUCN Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group, TRAFFIC is supporting these efforts through providing technical support, in particular, helping with ongoing bird market surveys across the region.
Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC
The MoU commits TRAFFIC and EAZA to share knowledge and expertise relating to the levels of trade of species from the wild, with an emphasis on newly threatened species, and will cover information about captive-breeding, illegal sourcing of specimens and suspect animal and plant dealers — for not only songbirds but other species as well, such as pangolins and reptiles.
As part of the collaboration, zoos and aquariums will provide their visitors with educational information on how to avoid purchasing illegally sourced animal products and report suspicions of illegally traded animals. Efforts will also be directed to help stem the illegal wildlife trade in Europe, where some 12,000 illegal wildlife products were seized between 2005 and 2009, according to TRAFFIC. Many of the species illegally traded are threatened and in danger of extinction, often transported in appalling conditions by unscrupulous traders.
“TRAFFIC’s trade expertise, alongside EAZA’s extensive public outreach and expertise in caring for threatened species makes a strong combination in our joint efforts to prevent forests from falling silent,” said Thomas Kauffels, Director of Opel-Zoo and current Chair of EAZA.
“Alongside experts from IUCN and BirdLife we have assembled a great team to help prevent an avoidable conservation crisis for Asia’s songbirds,” added Steven Broad from TRAFFIC.
(Source: EAZA press release, 19.02.2018)