Empty Forest Syndrome – A Hauntingly Quiet Crisis

Tropical rainforests are some of the most species-rich ecosystems in the world and yet, many forests across Southeast Asia are devoid of the wildlife that once thrived there. Although deforestation is a problem in the region, there are still many pristine and intact forests that provide a perfect habitat for endemic species but stand eerily quiet and empty. So if it’s not a lack of suitable habitat that is causing wildlife to disappear from forests, what is? Unsustainable levels of hunting for the illegal wildlife trade. 

In Southeast Asia, the predominant hunting method is homemade snares. These weapons are cheap to make and are particularly harmful because they indiscriminately trap any species that cross them. Wildlife Alliance’s Director of Science, Dr. Thomas Gray, has noted that if everyone living near protected areas were given a gun, the effects on wildlife populations would be less destructive than what we are currently seeing with snares.  From 2010 to 2015, the number of snares Wildlife Alliance rangers removed from the Southern Cardamom National Park nearly doubled, from 14,364 to 27,714. If something isn’t done to stop this crisis now, the spreading of empty forests across Southeast Asia is inevitable. 

Please, help us stop the emptying of forests by making a donation to help end the snaring crisis. Wildlife Alliance is working with local authorities to enact legislative reform that will make it easier to apprehend poachers who set snares. Our forest rangers are also ramping up efforts to rid the Cardamoms of these devices and prevent the landscape’s iconic species from disappearing forever.