Southeast Asia is the center of the illegal animal trade. It is a multibillion-dollar business, and Bangkok, Thailand, appears to be at the hub of the black market. One trafficker there says profits are huge, at least double what he invests.

Some animals are sold alive; some are killed and the parts are sold. Tourists and locals can buy exotic birds and other animals openly in markets. Police have netted some criminals but often fail because criminals at the markets are alerted to impending raids. And officers are prevented by law from entering locked-up shops.

In Myanmar, pelts from endangered leopards can sell for as much as a few thousand dollars.

Activists are doing what they can to protect endangered species. At a rescue center in Cambodia, workers help care for elephants and tigers saved from poachers. Conservationists are also trying to salvage wildlife habitats and are reintroducing some animals to the areas of the wild where they should be safe.

Cambodian Wildlife Rescue
World Conservation Union program in Thailand