Trade in tigers and other wild cats in Mong La and Tachilek, Myanmar – A tale of two border towns

Trade in large cats (Panthera and Neofelis species), and indeed other wild cats, is a clear impediment to their conservation. Myanmar is an important country for cat conservation, both because of the presence of significant populations of threatened species but equally as it is positioned strategically between China, Thailand and India. Here we analyse data from large cat skins and other cat parts observed openly for sale at two border towns in Myanmar. Data from Tachilek on the Myanmar–Thailand border (19 surveys, 1991–2013) and Mong La on the Myanmar–China border (7 surveys, 2001–2014) show that the most common species in trade was the clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa (482 individuals; observed in 22/24 surveys), followed by leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis (458 individuals; 11/12 surveys), leopard Panthera pardus (344; 22/24 surveys), tiger P. tigris (207 individuals; 21/24 surveys) and Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temmincki (135 individuals; 10/12 surveys). Volumes of skins held no relationship with the number of other cat parts (e.g. skull, claws and canines) in trade.

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