A number of projects funded by SCA small and large grants have sought to reduce the illegal saiga trade and consumption in Guangzhou through building awareness, translating and distributing Saiga News; and coordinating intelligence-led enforcement by government authorities.
Traditional Chinese medicine considers saiga antelope horn to be an effective medicinal ingredient to reduce body heat and stop spasms. Guangzhou is one of the main cities involved in the illegal trade of “medicinal” saiga products in Southern China.
The project, headed by Yan Xie of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) China Program and generously funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, implemented a training workshop for Shenzhen customs where experts from Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden (KFBG), Hong Kong and the WCS Vietnam program were invited to deliver the training. Topics of the workshop included an introduction to CITES, identification of birds, reptiles, commonly traded animal products, and orchids. Saigas were a highlighted species.
On the back of the previous workshop’s success, an agenda is now also being developed for training the Guangzhou Forest Police Department. Based on feedback from previous training sessions, WCS’s Fenglian Li says that this training will be “held near the local rescue centre, zoo or museum to enable more practical exercises by giving participants the chance to observe wildlife at the training site.”
A second major part of this project was the implementation of an occupancy-based survey in the markets of Guangzhou to test a new market-based monitoring methodology. This was the first project to use such an approach.
Fenglian says that the next step is to “review the occupancy survey method to assess its effectiveness and how it can be improved” and also to “extend the scope of study by summarizing and analysing data from 2009-2013 to review the scale and trends of illegal saiga trade.”