Deputy Director of the Department of Forest Inspection under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ms Louamkham Sengchanoudom, addressed the issue on Thursday at a consultation workshop on the Wildlife Legality Compendium Project.
Ms Louamkham said Laos was covered in vast tracts of forest and is home to many species of flora and fauna, with some at risk of becoming extinct.
The nation also faces the risk of high-value border trade consisting of well-established networks and organisations with sufficient funds for complex and systematic transnational crime, including the purchase of protected wildlife.
Laos’ shared borders with other countries as well as its location makes inspections and management difficult, she said.
“Consequently, there is a risk of illegal wildlife trading taking place across Laos as a transit nation,” she added.
In the face of transnational crime networks, Ms Louamkham said the government has collaborated with the Lao Wildlife Enforcement Network (Lao-WEN) to combat wildlife trafficking under international treaties.
According to Lao-WEN, the Department of Forest Inspection has provided good coordination in tackling aquatic and wildlife crime, including close cooperation between the line agencies who have the power to make decisions.
This included improving wildlife and aquatic crime prevention, increasing ownership of crime protection at each level and providing supervision to share resources under the Wildlife and Aquatic Law.
Laos became a party to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in 2014.
CITES has focused on prioritised species within Laos with respect to law enforcement and bilateral cooperation to address wildlife trafficking issues.
According to a press release from the World Wide Fund for Nature, Laos has recently received increased international attention with regard to the issue of illegal wildlife trading.
Reports have also identified that Laos has seen increased domestic demand for items such as ivory, rhinoceros horns, and tiger products, which are predominantly purchased by visitors from Thailand, China, and Vietnam.