School of Anthropology & Conservation

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Trang Nguyen

The impact of Traditional Chinese Medicine on African Wildlife: The role of East Asian immigrants

Supervisors: Dr David Roberts (Main), Dr Bob Smith

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Wild species are used as sources of a wide variety of goods, including medicine, food and materials for the fashion industry. The demand for wildlife in Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) has been identified as a major driver of unsustainable and illegal trade of wildlife globally. The variety of wildlife products used in Asia is extensive and includes many species that have been designated as endangered or threatened by the IUCN Red List, such as tiger, leopard, pangolin and rhino. However, TAM plays an important role in health care in Asia and is gradually being accepted by people across the globe. In 2011, China had signed 91 TAM partnership agreements with over 70 countries, including African countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Congo. In the United Kingdom, it is easy to spot TAM shops at any Chinatown and the knowledge of TAM or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has also been turned into a subject at several universities. In Vietnam, people have been practicing both TCM and local traditional medicine for thousands of years, using the combination of herbs and wild animal parts to treat anything from light to severe diseases.

There have been a number of studies on the consumption of wildlife products in TAM in Asia, however very little is known about the impact of TAM in Africa and how it might influence behaviour of local people towards wildlife consumption. My PhD project aims to investigate the impact of East Asian immigrants on African wildlife through an investigation of the type and sources of wildlife products in TAM shops and local people's attitude towards the consumption of wildlife products in TAM.

Working with rangers in South Africa.

Working with rangers in South Africa.

My project aims to identify the source and demand hotspots for wildlife products used in TAM traded in South Africa, England and Vietnam and to make a meaningful contribution to global efforts to tackle wildlife crime. My ultimate goal is to explore the consumers’ motivation, age groups, backgrounds, their behaviour and attitudes towards wildlife products used in TAM and conservation in all three countries. An intensive study on the size of the current market and potential consumers of these products, therefore, is crucial in order to design social marketing and multi-media campaigns to deliver real and rapid impact in reducing demand. The results and methods of this survey will form the basis for long-term monitoring of wildlife products used in TAM traded in all three countries, and provide important information for targeted law enforcement and local demand reduction campaign designs.

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Surveying for lemurs at night in Madagascar

Surveying for lemurs at night in Madagascar.

Russell E. Train Fellowship - World Wildlife Fund

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Last Updated: 24/11/2016