Some good reporting on the issue of migratory bird hunting in SE Asia

Where I work in SE Asia one of the conservation issues we struggle with is the rampant illegal hunting of migratory birds. As some of you may know, SE Asia is a major hub of poaching of all sorts of animal and plant wildlife, and birds are especially hard hit. TRAFFIC has some excellent reports specifically about the songbird trade in SE Asia (note, the link has a couple concerning other areas too), but most of the reports like theirs tend to focus on a large area, nation or multi-nation scale.

Indonesia and Vietnam in particular have been singled out as being especially problematic, with an excellent artilce by Steven Nash having been published in the NYT last year; Vietnam’s Empty Forests. When foreign visitors come to Vietnam and go into the forest one of the most common, and often the first, question they ask is, “Why is it so quiet, where are the birds?”.

Here on the island I work on in NE Vietnam is sort of a microcosm of the large region, with our bird hunting issue focused more on wetland birds. My conservation organization has been working with the various local authorities to combat this hunting for two decades now (some 14 years more than I’ve been here), even though it’s not part of our primary mandate. Unfortunately, the problem has been getting worse, not better, as this region is vigorously developed and pushed into becoming a major tourism center for the country.

Recently the situation on Cat Ba, where I work, caught the attention of a Vietnamese environmental reporter who came with a small team and did an exemplary bit of investigative journalism. He just completed a 4 part series of articles, some parts with disturbing descriptions and imagery, that accurately captures the situation, maybe even understates a bit given the short time he and his team had here.

For those interested in reading the articles the links are below and for non-Vietnamese readers Google Translate does a good job with the articles.