The world has long associated plummeting populations of Southeast Asian wildlife with news of forest degradation and poignant images of deforested lands. Recent studies, however, bring to light another human practice that’s been driving the decline of wildlife numbers in these ecosystems.
Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin, in cooperation with WWF-Vietnam, WWF-Laos and the forestry department of the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, carried out a study showing that illegal hunting may be a bigger threat to mammals and ground-dwelling birds than forest degradation. The research, published Oct. 30 in the journal Communications Biology, compares camera-trapping records from logged forests in Malaysian Borneo with a protected eco-region in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos where illegal hunting is rampant. The results show a more precipitous loss of species and wildlife populations in the Annamites than in Borneo.