From the pristine jungles of Cambodia to the great national parks of India and Nepal, Asian wildlife is being plundered on an unprecedented scale. Every year, it is estimated that up to 30,000 primates, 5 million birds, 10 million reptile skins and 500 million tropical fish are traded. The wildlife business is the third largest illegal trade in the world, rivalled only by guns and drugs.
Strong beliefs in obscure parts of traditional Chinese medicine have driven this development. According to ancient custom, animal parts are imbued with 'magical' properties. Some believe, for example, that eating the flesh of a tiger will make them strong. Despite scientific studies proving such superstitions wrong, the trade in animals and animal parts continues largely unchecked, fuelled by desire, greed and corruption.
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