The trade in tigers and other wild cat parts from Myanmar into China has grown in recent years, a new study based on two decades of survey data suggests.
It reports a surge mainly in Mong La, a Burmese town bordering China, where shops selling such products have more than trebled in the past eight years.
Tiger parts were found in 80 percent of the surveys, the study says, representing at least 200 tigers.
The most common parts were from clouded leopards, numbering some 480 animals.
The findings, published in the journal Biological Conservation, reinforce past claims that the town was emerging as a major wildlife market in the region for products from as far away as Africa.
At the same time, they suggest that in another Burmese town, Tachilek, on the border with Thailand, there has been a fall in trade.
“It could be due to greater enforcement action in Thailand,” says report author Chris Shepherd of Traffic, an international wildlife trade monitoring network.
“But because that is yet to happen on the part of China, Mong La has seen the rise in wildlife trade,” he added.
Experts say the Burmese authorities have no control over the town, which is run by an armed group following a peace deal with the government.
No government or local official was available for comment.
Burma has banned the trade in tiger and leopard parts, under the international convention against the buying and selling of endangered species (CITES).
Wildlife conservation organisations have told BBC News that the law is not working in Mong La.
“Many of the products, particularly wildlife meat and tiger bone wine, don’t enter China but are consumed in Mong La by Chinese tourists,” says the World Wildlife Fund’s Thomas Grey, in the Greater Mekong area.
“However presumably many of the skins are imported into china as souvenirs.
“So what we need is better enforcement at the border so Chinese tourists are not bringing illegal wildlife products back into China.”