By Karl Ammann
Two years ago, acting as the presenter, I was filming with a German TV team in a new casino town on the border between Laos and China. In such semi-autonomous enclaves, built on leased territory, the laws of the countries on either side of the border go out the window.
Gambling, prostitution, drugs, and illegal wildlife consumption become the main economic activities. The wildlife-related enterprises, including the establishment of bear bile farms, were what we were looking into. As we walked the streets we came across two clouded leopard cubs hidden in a cardboard box.
The species is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. I took them out and played with them while the camera was rolling, until the owner started protesting and put an end to it.
In the meantime our translator was approached by a truck driver, who had his vehicle parked nearby and who had witnessed the commotion. He told our guide that if we were interested, there were two tiger cubs a few hours away that were for sale.
He gave us the address, and subsequently we went off to find the place, toward the center of Laos. When we got there we found out that the cubs had been sold to a Vietnamese buyer two days earlier for $4,000. I decided to follow up on that story on a later visit with a friend who was a cameraman. To learn more, we hired the Laotian hunters who had procured the tiger cubs... FULL STORY