Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Wild elephant killed by poisoned arrow


Police have launched manhunt operations against poachers who killed one wild elephant in Par Paw village in Singu township in Mandalay Region.

The elephant, estimated to be 40years old, was killed on Saturday according to villagers, U Tint Swe, director of the Mandalay Region Department of Forestry told The Myanmar Times on Monday.

“The elephant was killed by a poisoned arrow fired from a percussion rifle. As the site is near a residential area, tusk and skin were not removed and taken from the dead elephant. We are investigating the incident in cooperation with the police,” U Tint Swe said.

‘The elephant was killed by a poisoned arrow fired from a percussion rifle.’ - U Tint Swe, director, Mandalay Forestry Department

“In March, one wild elephant was also killed in nearby Thabeikkyin township. Elephant killings are quite frequent in our areas. There are some preventive measures that have been initiated but killings,” an official of Singu township Department of Forestry, who requested anonymity, said.

Combined teams of police and Department of Forestry officials have been dispatched to hunt down the suspects and a case was opened under section 41 (a) of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Law at Letpanhla police station by the forest department.

“As the areas in Thabeikkyin and Singu are surrounded by forests, many wild elephants dwell there. So there are also many poachers. With the help of the police, these poachers could be arrested if they can be pursued deep into the jungle,” a resident from Letpanhla village U Thaung Tun said.

The Department of Forestry said seven wild elephants have been killed in Mandalay Region over the last two years.

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‘Two key factors to end jumbo deaths’


KOTA KINABALU: Identifying the source of poisoning and improving the layout of the electric fencing are among key tasks that need to be tackled quickly in overcoming the deaths of Borneo pygmy elephants.

A Sabah-based conservationist Dr Marc Ancrenaz said the post-­mortems had yet to give a conclusive cause over the jumbo’s recent deaths, though suspicion was that it might be poisoning of their food and water sources.

“What is happening now is that most of these elephants are coming out of the forests to forage and may be consuming water and food sources that might be contaminated by fertilisers or chemicals,” he said.

“We need to find the source of the poisoning. So far, investigators cannot pinpoint any poison in the dead elephants’ blood stream.”

A total of 18 pygmy elephants have died since April. The motive behind more than half of the deaths could not be ascertained.

The others were killed by hunters’ traps or died due to natural causes.

Dr Ancrenaz said another concern was the setting up of electric fences haphazardly by plantation and farm owners.

“These elephants sometimes manage to slip through the gaps between the electric fences, but could not get out of the fenced area, causing further human-elephant conflict,” he said.

Dr Ancrenaz said such electric fencing should be placed with an overview of the landscape to minimise conflicts triggered by fragmented forests in the elephants’ natural roaming area.

Noting that the state government was setting up a task force to look into the deaths, Dr Ancrenaz said it was important to get advice from experts handling the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India.

Though Sabah’s wild elephant population is only about 1,500 to 2,000, he said they were breeding well.

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Wild-Caught Elephants Die Years Early In Captivity

New research into captive elephant lifespans reveals that wild-caught animals live shorter lives.
Elephants are critical to the logging industry across Southeast Asia, even though the animals are endangered. And in Myanmar, a country long largely cutoff from the world, the animals are an especially integral part of the workforce. For centuries, Myanmar kings employed the beasts in their armies. And since the early 1700s, the country’s government has used the giants as draft animals to harvest timber, like teak, a popular hardwood that grows in mountainous regions where vehicle access is difficult.

But to tame and train the animals, people first had to capture them.

Capturing elephants typically happens in one of three ways: lassoing individuals around the neck; immobilizing them with an opiate-derived narcotic before administering a reversal agent and tethering them to another elephant that leads them to camp; and herding whole groups, usually families, into stockades. Previous research showed capture is traumatic for the animals and can significantly affect their health and behavior. The breaking and taming process likely enhances these negative effects.

Mirkka Lahdenperä, a biologist at the University of Turku in Finland who led the new research, wanted to compare different capture methods. Since elephants are highly intelligent and social animals that live in strong family groups, she thought the herding method might mean less social isolation for the creatures.

Elephant Life Story
To find out how being captured affects elephants, Lahdenperä tapped a unique dataset: full life histories of thousands of Asian elephants stretching back more than a century. Khyne Mar, Lahdenperä’s colleague at the University of Turku and co-author of the new paper, collected the data from the Myanmar Timber Enterprise, which archives the life details of each work animal with the aid of local vets and regional timber managers. The records track the elephants from birth to death and include not just whether an elephant was born in the wild or in captivity but how they were captured, how old they were when tamed, and who their parents and offspring are.

Although earlier studies assessed how captivity affected elephants shortly after capture, the long-term effects on elephants’ lives were unknown. So, Lahdenperä and her team analyzed nearly 50 years of the timber company’s records that chronicled more than 5,000 elephants’ lives.

The team’s analysis revealed that capturing elephants from the wild reduces their lifespan by around 5 years, regardless of how they were captured or their gender. “This means all these [capture] methods had an equally negative effect on the elephant’s subsequent life [in the long-term],” Lahdenperä said in a statement. Death during capture and taming killed 5 to 30 percent of the animals, but since the researchers did not have access to this data, Lahdenperä says they can’t determine which capture method might be best (or worst) for elephants.

Animals Captured For Zoos
Wild elephant populations are declining, thanks in part to conflict with humans, but also to sustain captive populations like those in zoos. One-third of Asian elephants now live in captivity. And even in elephant research and conservation programs, the effects of capture on the subsequent health of the animals are not taken into consideration, says Lahdenperä.

She hopes this unique dataset can help provide new solutions to elephant management and healthcare, adding that “capturing elephants isn’t only detrimental because it reduces wild populations of this endangered species, it also fails to provide a viable solution for sustaining captive populations.”

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A new lust for elephant skin jewelry could decimate Myanmar’s giants

The poaching of African elephants, where they are murdered for their ivory tusks, is well-documented. But halfway around world in Myanmar, their cousins are 10 times more endangered and facing a new serious threat. Poachers are taking the skin of Asian elephants and turning it into ruby red jewelry. The NewsHour’s Nsikan Akpan reports.

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Born free, but in chains later...

Asia’s wild-captured worker elephants die young, says a study spanning nearly five decades
Asian elephants snatched from the wild and conscripted to haul logs in Myanmar’s timber industry live on average five years less than working elephants born in captivity, researchers have said.

The older an elephant is at the time of capture, the more likely it is to die young, according to an analysis of government logs for 5,150 of the giant mammals - two-fifths of them wild-born - covering the period from 1951 to 2000.

The median lifespan for working captive-born males and females was 30 and 45 years, respectively. Among wild-caught animals, it was half-a-decade less for both sexes.

The trauma of being drugged or lassoed into submission during capture; the brutal process of “breaking” an animal so it will obey orders; separation from family... all of these factors likely contribute to this foreshortened lifespan, the researchers speculated.

“Elephants are affected by long-term stress stemming from their earlier experiences and new life in captivity,” Mirkka Lahdenpera, a professor at the University of Turku in Finland and lead author of a study detailing the findings, told AFP.

Earlier research has shown that both African and Asian elephants are highly social. Calves separated from mothers, for example, can suffer long-lasting trauma.

Indeed, for this reason, traffickers selling the animals into Thailand’s tourist trade or Myanmar’s logging industry generally avoid taking calves under five years old that still suckle their mothers.

Currently, there are some 5,000 adult elephants toiling in Myanmar, the vast majority dragging freshly cut tree trunks through the dense jungle to transport hubs and mills.

Because they breed poorly in captivity, there is constant demand for wild specimens.

In Myanmar, the highly valuable animals are protected by government regulations that mandate maximum work loads and rest periods.

Timber industry elephants have holidays, maternity leave and a mandatory retirement age.

Most work during the day and are released to forests during the night to forage and socialise, with both captive and wild peers.

“Captive-born working timber elephants in Myanmar live as long as wild ones,” Lahdenpera noted.

But the study, published in Nature Communications , highlighted the cost to these majestic creatures of the violent transition from jungle to a life of servitude.

“Wild-caught elephants carry the scars from their capture for a long, long time,” said Lahdenpera. “We should find an alternative and better methods to boost the captive populations.”

The worst environments for elephants are zoos, which shorten lifespans most of all.AFP

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Captivity shortens the lifespan of wild elephants

A new study published on July 7 in Nature Communications, a scientific journal, examined the effects of long-term captivity on wild timber elephants in Myanmar (1). The study, performed by researchers from the University of Turku, Finland, and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, compiled data from the detailed records held by the Myanmar government on the life-history of over 5 000 captive timber elephants between 1951–2000. Based on this data, predictive modelling was used to demonstrate age-specific, adverse effects of capture on the mortality of wild Asian elephants.

Timber elephants work during the day and are released into the forest at night, where they can interact with other captive timber elephants as well as wild elephants. Captive-born and wild-caught elephants are tamed and trained in the same way and fall under the same governmental regulations ― including holidays, maternity leave, and a retirement age ― however, wild-captured elephants are often treated more harshly.

The analysis shows that captured elephants have an increased mortality rate compared to captive-born elephants regardless of how they were captured. Moreover, their average life expectancy is several years shorter than captive-born elephants. No differences between male and female elephants were observed but age was shown to be an important factor. Elephants captured at an older age are at a higher risk of mortality compared to those tamed from a young age.

Elephants are most at risk of dying during the first year immediately following capture. This risk declines in subsequent years, but the negative effects can last an entire decade. What makes this study even more alarming is that according to Dr Mirkka Lahdenperä, lead author of the study, “60 percent of elephants in zoos are captured from the wild and about a third of all remaining Asian elephants now live in captivity.”

Wild animals are placed in captivity for a variety of sanctioned purposes including conservation, veterinary, and research, as well as population management. However, the stress of capture is known to result in changes in behaviour, physiology, and immunity. Furthermore, interactions with humans, taming, interspecies competition, and social isolation can lead to reductions in survival rates and other adverse effects, and disrupting early development by altering the environment is also known to cause health, reproductive, and survival issues later in life.

Elephants are frequently captured despite being known to perform badly in captivity. Wild or semi-captive elephants, of both African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) origin, kept in zoos are at a much higher risk of dying (2). However, the reasons are poorly understood. The 3000-year long history of capturing Asian elephants continues today despite declining elephant populations. These striking long-term differences between captive-born and wild-captured elephants should be considered in future research and conservation programs, to prevent further decline of wild elephant populations.

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https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/environment/captivity-shortens-the-lifespan-of-wild-elephants/


Ai Weiwei calls attention to plight of Myanmar’s ‘jobless’ timber elephants

Artist Ai Weiwei has visited elephant camps in Myanmar, where efforts to reduce logging have created new dangers for more than 1,000 “jobless” timber elephants.

Key points:

Ban on logging exports has left many elephants locked up in camps

Timber industry has used elephants to transport wood for decades

Ai Weiwei critical of conditions elephants being kept in

Elephants have been used in Myanmar’s timber industry for decades, work that has seen the creatures drag heavy logs through forests.

However, animal-protection organisation Four Paws said a ban on timber exports meant many working elephants were now “jobless” and viewed as a financial burden.

Many have been chained up in camps, while others are being smuggled out of the country for use in the tourism industry. Some are also being abandoned or killed.

External Link:

Ai Weiwei Instagram video elephant chains

Ai Weiwei visited several camps with Four Paws workers, and posted videos on Instagram of what he saw.

In a video posted by Four Paws, the artist said the elephants’ living conditions were far from what he expected.

“I feel it’s a creature, it’s a human being itself, and we know very little about it,” he said.

“I can feel its full emotion and intelligence. Unfortunately it has been put in this kind of position by humans, which is not right but also not fair.

“They deserve to live in freedom, but have always been mistreated. Let them be free … We have to understand we are human by doing something nice for other species, otherwise we fail as a human being.”

External Link:

Ai Weiwei visits working elephants in Myanmar

In one video posted on Instagram, Ai Weiwei captured a young elephant in one of the camps being poked and struck in the head with a stick.

Sanctuary under construction

External Link:

Ai Weiwei instagram video

Myanmar’s nationwide, one-year ban on timber exports was lifted in April 2016.

However logging resumed at a reduced level, and a decade-long ban in the Bago Yoma Hills in central Myanmar also remained in effect, leaving elephants in that area out of work.

In response to this, Four Paws is constructing one of South-East Asia’s largest elephant sanctuaries in the Bago region.

Known as Elephants Lake, it will cover an area of 17,000 hectares and have veterinarians and other experts on staff to care for former working elephants, as well as injured or orphaned wild elephants.

The animals will later be released into the nearby North Zar Ma Yi Forest Reserve.

Topics:

animals,

endangered-and-protected-species,

timber,

visual-art,

burma

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Elephant Poaching Dips in 2018 After Years on Rise

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region — More than 100 wild elephants were poached in forest reserves across the country over the past four years, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation’s Forest Department.

U Pyae Phyo Aung, head of the Forest Department in Irrawaddy Region’s Ngapudaw Township, said poachers killed a total 115 of the pachyderms over the period: seven in 2014, 20 in 2015, 18 in 2016, 59 in 2017, and 11 from January through May.

“Elephant poaching was highest last year, but it has declined this year,” he told The Irrawaddy.

He added that 53 elephant died of natural causes from 2014 to May.

Combined, Myanmar lost 168 wild elephants over the period, an average of about 40 per year.

In the past, elephants were mainly poached for their tusks. But over the past few years, they are also increasingly targeted for their hide, which, like the tusks, is mostly smuggled to China.

Most of the poaching takes place in Irrawaddy Region. Local police said 59 elephants were poached in the region between 2011 and May 2018.

But elephant poaching in Irrawaddy Region has significantly declined this year thanks to cooperation from locals, said Ko Sai Zaw Oo of Friends of Wildlife (FOW), which is partnering with the World Wildlife Fund on elephant conservation efforts.

In January, the Forest Department launched an initiative offering rewards of 3 million kyats ($2,046) to anyone who provides authorities with information leading to the arrest of elephant poachers.

“Last year we were able to arrest a poaching ring due to a tip from a local resident in Ngapudaw. We awarded him 3 million kyats. And we conduct regular patrols with forestry police and departmental officials, and elephant poaching has declined in the region,” Ko Sai Zaw Oo told The Irrawaddy.

Combined teams comprising local police, forestry police, forest department staff, village administrators, elephant veterinarians and non-governmental organization officials conduct regular patrols across forest reserves in Irrawaddy and also educate locals about the dangers and damage of poaching.

In February, the government launched the Myanmar Elephant Conservation Action Plan, a strategy for the next 10 years (2018–2027) aimed at securing viable and ecologically functional elephant populations in Myanmar for the next century and beyond with support from international and local organizations.

Myanmar’s elephant population is now estimated at between 1,400 and 2,000, a drastic decline from about 10,000 in the 1940s, according to the Forest Department.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei visits elephant camps in Myanmar to raise awareness of jobless logging elephants in crisis





There are almost 5,000 working elephants in Myanmar, more than half employed by state-run Myanmar Timber Enterprise to haul hardwood trees. However, an export ban put 1,000 elephants out of work. Some were killed, others were abandoned or sent to neighbouring countries

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has carved a career out of controversy and activism, the dissident artist’s works that touch on subjects from human rights to corruption often raising the ire of the Chinese government.

Now the Berlin-based artist is getting his hands dirty for another cause. His latest passion project is all about the pachyderm, more specifically Myanmar’s “jobless” working elephants.

Last week Ai Weiwei visited several elephant camps in the country as part of a mission with animal welfare group, Four Paws. According to the Vienna-based organisation, about 2,900 of the almost 5,000 working elephants in Myanmar belong to state-owned enterprises, mostly the Myanmar Timber Enterprise. The rest are in private hands.


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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Myanmar’s Illegal Wildlife trade to go on screen



Myanmar is most affected by wildlife poaching and trafficking. From last December to May alone, five elephants have been reported killed in the outskirt of Yangon, according to the forest department.

The problem is not new but still prevalent. To fight the plight, WWF had launched the Mo Mo campaign last year to raise awareness and protect the elephants.

However, although the campaign resonated in the heart of Yangonites, illegal trafficking still plagues Myanmar. This month, three cases of illegal wildlife trade were reported in Mandalay and Magway regions. Over there and on the Chinese border, illegal market boast skulls, tusks and skin of the rarest and most endangered species in the country – such as elephants, tigers and pangolins.

Doubling down on the effort to fight illegal wildlife trade, the union parliament passed the Protection of Biodiversity and Protected Areas Law last May which establishes mandatory prison sentences for poaching or trading of protected species.


Along with the new policy, the UK Government, and the Luang Prabang Film Festival in cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) launched a short film competition to raise awareness about illegal wildlife trade in Myanmar.


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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Poachers feed China trade, threaten country’s elephants



Following a tip-off by villagers in early May, U Sai Nyi Nyi rushed to the forest in Kyauk Gyi village in Thabeikkyin township of Mandalay Region and found the remains of a dead female elephant. Her tusks and trunk had been cut off and her skin peeled off the right side of her body.

Elephant poachers hastily left when the villagers arrived. Such activity has become common in Thabeikkyin, where poachers in groups of five or more, impersonating wood cutters and armed with guns, enter the forest in search of prey.



“They usually stay in the jungle for many days,” U Sai Nyi Nyi, a member of the township wildlife conservation team, said. Her group has been raising awareness among villagers near the forest to help them protect wildlife from poachers.

He said the poachers first drive the elephants into a desired location and then shoot them with poisoned arrows or guns. Then they follow the wounded elephant till it falls dead, which may take two or more days.



The elephants, sensing danger, go near the villages, as poachers tend to avoid shooting them near populated areas. Wild elephants sometimes enter the fields near the villages apparently to seek refuge, U Sai Nyi Nyi said.

Demand for elephant skin has rapidly risen since last year, according to a study by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Myanmar. Many Chinese still believe that elephant skin can cure skin diseases and gastritis. It is also used in making jewellery. The increasing demand from China for elephant parts has led to the killing of more elephants in Myanmar.

“Elephant trunk is also said to be medicinal and has become a target,” Daw Sapai Min, WWF Myanmar project manager, said.

The demand for skin has endangered not only male tusked elephants but also females and their young.

“There is no scientific proof that it cures these diseases,” WWF Myanmar Senior Conservation Biologist U Paing Soe said.

Wild elephants are common in Ayeyarwady, Mandalay, Yangon, Bago, Rakhine and Kayin regions and states, but most of the killings happen in Ayeyarwady.


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Raids reveal Myanmar poachers’ indiscriminate bloodthirst



A series of targeted raids by Forestry Department agents on Tuesday ended with the arrest of six poachers Mandalay, Ayeyawady, and Bago regions and the seizure of a vast array of wildlife products. The diversity of the haul offered a glimpse into the voracious bloodthirst of Myanmar poachers and their customers.

Among the seized items were elephant hides, antlers of numerous deer species, bison horns, turtle shells and flesh, porcupine quills, bear bones, claws, and paws, and skulls of a variety of wild animals.

“Due to the market demands of neighboring countries, there are many people storing and trading these [wildlife parts],” Ayeyawady Region Forestry Department director Khin Maung Myint, told the Myanmar Times. He explained that one facility that was raided in his jurisdiction was used for making decorative hangings, jewelry and accessories, and traditional medicines out of animal skins and other parts.

The six suspects have been charged under Myanmar’s Protection of Wildlife and Protected Areas Law, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years for the killing or wounding of a protected animal.


Research from the last year has showed a spike in elephant killings as demand for elephant skin has risen across the region. Whereas ecological damage from the ivory trade has been limited by regulations in China and by its specific targeting of elephants with tusks, elephant skin hunters are indiscriminate in their killings, and skin products, which often lose their resemblance to natural elephant skin after they are processed, are more difficult to detect.



Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation reported last year that poachers in Myanmar kill one elephant every week. If the killing continues at the same rate, the country’s elephant population could be extinct within a few years.


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Breaking! 6 Alleged Wildlife Traffickers Arrested In Myanmar, Southeast Asia; Elephant Hides, Deer Horns & Skulls Among Confiscated Items – World Animal News



Six men in the Mandalay, Ayeyarwady, and Bago regions of Myanmar have been arrested for allegedly storing and selling wild animal parts including elephant hides, deer and bison horns, turtle shells and meats, and porcupine quills as well as the bones, claws, paws, and skulls of various animals.
According to the Myanmar Times, the Forestry Department police department issued a statement yesterday explaining that the arrests stemmed from separate law enforcement operations and subsequent raids on June 9th.
The yet-to-be-named suspects, who were charged under the country’s Protection of Wildlife and Protected Areas Law, may face up to seven years in jail for the killing and trading of protected wildlife.
Sadly, the growing demand in surrounding countries was cited as the reason that so many people are now storing and trading wildlife parts in the area.
U Khin Maung Myint, Director of Forestry Department of Ayeyarwady Region noted that the “market emerged as the horns and hides of the animal are hung on the walls for decorative purposes, made into hand wear accessories, and mixed with other medicinal roots for medicine.”
What pointless reasons to take sentient beings lives.
It’s as shameful as it is sad!


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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

New Sanctuary Will Give A New Home to Retired Logging Elephants



FOUR PAWS International is developing an incredible, expansive elephant sanctuary in Myanmar. This centre will allow elephants formerly used for labour or tourist activities to retire, living the rest of their lives in peace and comfort.

Myanmar contains around 2,000 wild elephants and around 6,000 working elephants, most of whom are used in the timber trade. In order to protect Myanmar’s dwindling forests, new environmental regulations were introduced, leading to reforms in the logging industry which resulted in ‘unemployment’ for many of these animals. As a consequence, an estimated 1,000 elephants are no longer needed for industry and are destined to wind up dead or used in cruel tourist attractions.

“It’s harsh, but for their owners, these elephants are now useless and a financial burden. The animals are therefore killed or sold into the tourism industry,” said Dr Amir Khalil, veterinarian for FOUR PAWS. “These magnificent, endangered animals do not deserve death or an equally cruel career change. At our first elephant sanctuary, the animals can recover from the exertions of their past and, ideally be reintroduced to the wild.”

FOUR PAWS has a solution for this problem. They have started creating Elephant’s Lake, a sanctuary area covering 6,880 acres of land. When complete, it will be one of the largest elephant sanctuaries in Southeast Asia and a new home for former logging, orphaned or injured elephants, starting from the end of 2018.

A press release from Four Paws states that: “The goal of Elephant’s Lake’s comprehensive rehabilitation program is to bring together new prides and subsequently release the animals into the adjacent North Zar Ma Yi Forest Reserve. If this is not possible, the elephants will remain at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.”

Early this year, Myanmar published the first-ever Myanmar Elephant Conservation Plan (MECAP). Produced in coordination with many renowned wildlife advocacy groups, the document outlines policies that will ensure the survival of elephants in the country over the next century.


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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Elephant treatment programme still facing challenges



The elephant treatment programme, which was started to provide free treatment through mobile elephant clinics (MECs) to elephants owned by the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE), private enterprises and wildlife elephants since 2016, is still facing many challenges.
The MTE is providing free treatment through two MECs to over 3,000 elephants owned by it and other wildlife elephants, and providing treatment through one MEC to elephants owned by private enterprises. The mobile elephant clinic team includes 20 veterinary surgeons and 32 elephant veterinary training students. The team is providing services such as vaccinations, deworming, removing of old abscess and surgeries, treatments, and footcare management processes.
“One of the big challenges for the team is looking for private elephant owners. Next, the team lacks experienced veterinary surgeons. We also need sustainable funding for the mobile elephant clinics. We have only one vehicle for private enterprise elephants. In this case, when we are providing treatment in the southern part of Myanmar, we cannot go to the northern part of Myanmar if there is an emergency case,” said MTE elephant veterinary professor U Zaw Min Oo.
Moreover, the MTE set up a free elephant hospital in 2014 at 13 miles entry from Oakdwin- Pauk Khaung road. However, most of the private enterprise elephant owners do not access the treatment, said U Moe Myint, Deputy General Manger of MTE.
“The private elephant owners do not want their elephants to be treated at the elephant hospital. They also do not want our team conducting a medical check-up on their elephant, as they are only concerned with their business. We provide medicine and doctors free of charge,” he added.


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SCBI Scientists Find Elephant Poaching Crisis in Myanmar



Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists and Clemson University scientists are tracking elephants via satellite collars in Myanmar, where their efforts to understand how Asian elephants use their habitat has revealed a troubling rise in poaching. These elephants are being poached for their skin, not ivory. That means males, females and calves are all victims of poaching. Their work on the ground to detect and prevent poaching and reaching out to the local community is helping save this critically endangered species.


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https://nationalzoo.si.edu/conservation-ecology-center/news/scbi-scientists-find-elephant-poaching-crisis-myanmar

Fragmentation of Asia's remaining wildlands: implications for Asian elephant conservation



Habitat loss and fragmentation are main causes for Asian elephant population declines. We mapped wildlands - large, unfragmented and undeveloped areas - asking: (1) Where are the largest wildlands that constitute elephant habitats? (2) What proportion of these wildlands is protected? (3) What is their potential for elephant conservation? Our study demonstrates that wildlands constitute only 51% of the Asian elephant range. Myanmar has the largest wildland (∼170,000 km2), followed by Thailand and India. In Principal Components Analysis (PCA), the first two components explained 73% of the variation in fragmentation among ranges. We identified three fragmentation clusters from the PCA. Cluster A contains large ranges with unfragmented wildlands; cluster B includes ranges with well-developed transportation networks and large human populations; and cluster C contains ranges with severely fragmented wildlands. In cluster A, we identified four ranges with elephant populations >1000 animals: ARYO, MYUC, BNMH and BITE. Together with ranges that support >1000 elephants in cluster B, these A ranges have great potential for long-term elephant conservation. We propose that fragmentation clusters and population size can be used to identify different elephant monitoring and management zones.


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https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/animal-conservation-forum/article/fragmentation-of-asias-remaining-wildlands-implications-for-asian-elephant-conservation/6889AFD05074BD8E81BA1139903E71BD

Friday, May 25, 2018

Villagers flee civil war in Myanmar by elephant



The people of Awng Lawt in Kachin state were forced from their homes by escalating fighting between rebels from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Myanmar's military earlier this year ...


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Burma: Elephants come to the rescue of sick, elderly fleeing Kachin fighting



AS the decades-long civil war continues to rage on in Burma’s northern Kachin state, mahouts and their elephants are doing what they can to help the displaced sick, young and elderly villagers fleeing the fighting.

While sporadic fighting has continued in the region since the breakdown of a ceasefire between the powerful Kachin Independence Army (KIA) rebel group and Burma’s army seven years ago, rights groups say the army has stepped up its campaign while global attention focuses on the Rohingya crisis, which has seen almost 700,000 people flee to Bangladesh. The fighting in Kachin escalated significantly in mid-January.


The United Nations says more than 6,800 people have fled since April and many civilians remain trapped in conflict zones, unable to escape.

People fleeing the fighting are now sheltering in local churches, existing displacement sites, or staying with host families where they have received initial humanitarian assistance from the government and local organisations.

Travelling through dense jungle and across treacherous rivers is a sad necessity for those hoping to escape, as the people of Awng Lawt found when they were forced to flee.

For three days, the group of villagers took shelter in their paddy fields as the sound of gunfire and fighter jets came ever closer.


To read the full article, click on the story title.




Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Palin Kanthayar elephant resort crowded with visitors



The number of visitors who visit the newly opened Palin Kanthayar elephant resort in NyaungU township, Mandalay region has increased day by day with those riding elephants, exploring natural beauty and observing elephants having a bath.



Visitors throng the resort over the weekends, feeding elephants with maize, sugarcane and water melon.— Ko Htein-Ngathayauk


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First ‘private elephant lake’ opens in Bago



By HEIN KO SOE | FRONTIER

KYAUKTAGA, BAGO REGION - Two animal rights NGOs have teamed up with the Myanmar government to open the first “private elephant lake” in the country, in Bago Region, about 170 kilometres (83 miles) from Yangon.

Elephant Lake, located at the Yenwe Forest Reserve in Kyauktaga Township is a collaboration between organisation Mingalar Myanmar, international animal charity Four Paws International, and the government’s Forestry Department, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

Initially located on 20 hectares (50 acres) of land owned by the forestry department, it will initially house six elephants, but eventually plans to welcome 3,000 elephants on 17,000 hectares of land, making it the largest such sanctuary in Southeast Asia, said U Kyaw Htaik, deputy general manager of Myanmar Timber Enterprise. All of the elephants at the site will be former loggers from MTE.

The centre, which the organisers say will open later this year, includes a medical treatment facility, and housing for the elephants, including permanent housing for retired elephants, and rehabilitation facilities for those they hope to re-introduce into the wild. Organisers also plan to spend between $4 million and $5 million to develop the project, including building ecotourism facilities on-site.


To read the full article, click on the story title.

Online skin trade fuels Burma elephant slaughter: conservation group



An emerging online market for elephant skin in China is threatening the survival of the creatures in neighbouring Myanmar as poaching intensifies to meet demand, conservationists warned Tuesday.

Myanmar has watched with alarm as the number of slain elephants found in the country’s forests rises each year, with many blaming the trade in the mammal’s hide.

The biggest market for the products is in China, where the tough skin is ground up and used to treat stomach or human skin ailments, or sold as jewellery in the form of blood-red beads and pendants.

The items are increasingly advertised and sold on the internet, according to the UK-based charity Elephant Family, which outlined the findings in a new study called “Skinned: The growing appetite for Asian Elephants”.

Unlike poaching for ivory, the skin trade does not discriminate between genders and ages in elephants, making them far more vulnerable.

“This means that no elephant is safe,” said the group’s acting conservation director Belinda Stewart-Cox. “Myanmar is losing too many elephants too fast.”

Elephant Family monitored multiple internet forums and interacted with traderswithout making purchasesto learn more about the supply chain.

Out of eleven online sellers who said they knew the product origin, nine cited Myanmar and two Laos.

One China-based trader who claims to have “invented” elephant skin beads said she gets the material from a Myanmar border town, calling the sourcing “long-term and nonstop,” the report said.

Some 2,000 wild elephants are thought to be left in Myanmar, the second largest population in the region after Thailand.

But a combination of weak oversight and lawless border regions outside central government control has made Myanmar a key hub in the global wildlife trafficking trade.

Last year 59 elephant carcasses were found in the wild, a jump from four in 2010, according to government statistics cited by the report.

While the INGO said it was hard to prove with certainty whether the rise in skin product sales was directly linked to the rise in poaching, the parallel surge leaves few other explanations.

The researchers also documented the sale of elephant skin powder through China-based traditional medicine and pharmaceutical platforms, though it remains unclear whether African or Asian elephants were used in the goods.


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People who help arrest wild elephant killer honored



Gwa, 4 May

Cash was presented to 11 service personnel and one community leader who assisted in the arrest of wild elephant killers in Gwa township, Rakhine state on 4 April with an address by Head of the General Administration Department U Aung Myo Naing.



The program was initiated by Wildlife Conservation Partners Association and World Wildlife Conservation Fund in order to effectively prevent the killing of wildlife.—Township IPRD


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Saturday, May 05, 2018

Online skin trade fuels Burma elephant slaughter: conservation group



An emerging online market for elephant skin in China is threatening the survival of the creatures in neighbouring Myanmar as poaching intensifies to meet demand, conservationists warned Tuesday.

Myanmar has watched with alarm as the number of slain elephants found in the country’s forests rises each year, with many blaming the trade in the mammal’s hide.

The biggest market for the products is in China, where the tough skin is ground up and used to treat stomach or human skin ailments, or sold as jewellery in the form of blood-red beads and pendants.

The items are increasingly advertised and sold on the internet, according to the UK-based charity Elephant Family, which outlined the findings in a new study called “Skinned: The growing appetite for Asian Elephants”.

Unlike poaching for ivory, the skin trade does not discriminate between genders and ages in elephants, making them far more vulnerable.

“This means that no elephant is safe,” said the group’s acting conservation director Belinda Stewart-Cox. “Myanmar is losing too many elephants too fast.”

Elephant Family monitored multiple internet forums and interacted with traderswithout making purchasesto learn more about the supply chain.

Out of eleven online sellers who said they knew the product origin, nine cited Myanmar and two Laos.

One China-based trader who claims to have “invented” elephant skin beads said she gets the material from a Myanmar border town, calling the sourcing “long-term and nonstop,” the report said.

Some 2,000 wild elephants are thought to be left in Myanmar, the second largest population in the region after Thailand.

But a combination of weak oversight and lawless border regions outside central government control has made Myanmar a key hub in the global wildlife trafficking trade.

Last year 59 elephant carcasses were found in the wild, a jump from four in 2010, according to government statistics cited by the report.

While the INGO said it was hard to prove with certainty whether the rise in skin product sales was directly linked to the rise in poaching, the parallel surge leaves few other explanations.

The researchers also documented the sale of elephant skin powder through China-based traditional medicine and pharmaceutical platforms, though it remains unclear whether African or Asian elephants were used in the goods.

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http://www.intellasia.net/online-skin-trade-fuels-burma-elephant-slaughter-conservation-group-663656

‘No elephant is safe’: China’s online market for animal’s skin has decimated Myanmar population



An emerging online market for elephant skin in China is threatening the survival of the creatures in neighbouring Myanmar as poaching intensifies to meet demand, conservationists warned on Tuesday.

Myanmar has watched with alarm as the number of slain elephants found in the country’s forests rises each year, with many blaming the trade in the mammal’s hide.

The biggest market for the products is in China, where the tough skin is ground up and used to treat stomach or human skin ailments, or sold as jewellery in the form of blood-red beads and pendants. The items are increasingly advertised and sold on the internet, according to the UK-based charity Elephant Family, which outlined the findings in a new study called “Skinned: The growing appetite for Asian Elephants”

China imposes total ban on elephant ivory sales

Unlike poaching for ivory, the skin trade does not discriminate between genders and ages in elephants, making them far more vulnerable.

“This means that no elephant is safe,” said the group’s acting conservation director Belinda Stewart-Cox. “Myanmar is losing too many elephants too fast.”
This means that no elephant is safe. Myanmar is losing too many elephants too fast.

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Life of Dales vet, who died aged 98, celebrated



THE life of a Dales vet who saw action in battle was celebrated in Dent and Arkholme last Friday.

John Douglas Parkinson, who had run a practice in Sedbergh,was born on December 2, 1919 in Quernmore, near Lancaster. He attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School from 1931-1938, going on to secure a place at Liverpool University School of Veterinary Studies from where he qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1943.

After a spell in practice in Aylesbury, he volunteered for the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 1944. He was posted to Burma where he joined the 64th Indian Infantry Division, responsible for pack mules and elephants on the front line.

Mr Parkinson, who died aged 98, saw action in the battles for Mandalay, Kalaw and the break out of Japanese forces from Pegu Yomas.

Promoted to major as deputy assistant director of Veterinary and Remount Services, he remained in Burma until 1947. When he returned home he started a vets practice in Sedbergh.

He spent time as chairman of the housing committee and acquired a small farm in Garsdale. Mr Parkinson was awarded a fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for his work on caesarean operations on cattle and sheep in general practice.

He moved to Plymouth in 1959 after purchasing a partnership in a mixed practice and lived on a farm on the edge of Dartmoor. Mr Parkinson retired in 1985 and moved to live near Carnforth.

He is survived by his second wife, Mary Christina, five children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Mr Parkinson’s funeral took place in Dent and a separate celebration of his life took place in Arkholme.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Two Elephant Poachers Detained in Chaungtha Forest Reserve



Two suspected poachers were detained by a combined team of authorities after an elephant carcass and weapons used for poaching were discovered in Chaungtha Forest Reserve near Ngwesaung Beach, Pathein Township in Irrawaddy Region on Sunday afternoon.

After receiving a tip-off about an elephant carcass, authorities questioned two suspects from Thitphyu Village, leading to the discovery of the carcass and weapons used in hunting the elephant.

“We have detained two suspected poachers and seized the elephant carcass, its removed skin, firearms and poisoned arrows. Four people were involved in the poaching but two of them managed to escape. The police are trying to arrest the escapees. The Forest Department will formally charge them for poaching,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Khin Maung Latt told the Irrawaddy.

The combined team of the local police, forest rangers and officials from the Forestry Department detained the two suspected poachers, Ko Htwe, known as Thaung Aye, and Nga Du, known as Chit Min Naing, together with two firearms, arrows, bottles of poison, gunpowder, knives, axes, elephant skin and flesh.

“Local people reported to the authorities that they had discovered an elephant carcass. When the team arrived at the village, the carcass had already been hidden. So, the team questioned the two suspected poachers who lived nearest to the scene. The two admitted poaching the elephant and showed the police the carcass, its skin and weapons,” said Dr. Lin Lin Tun, leader of a local elephant conservation group.

The two suspected poachers have been detained at Ngwesaung Police Station and will be charged under Section 37 (a) of the Protection of Wildlife Act.

Poachers killed about 40 wild elephants, which were searching for food in Pathein, Ngapudaw and Thabaung during the period from 2011 to 2017, according to the Pathein Township Police Force.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Tour operators, timber company see bright future for elephant tourism



The government-run Myanma Timber Enterprise had earned about K430 million (US$325,535) since it began operating 18 elephant conservation-based tourism camps around the country two years ago.

The government has banned timber extraction for a period of one year for the whole country and for 10 years in Bago Yoma Hills in central Myanmar, effective from the 2016-17 fiscal year.

As a result of the ban, the management of Myanma Timber Enterprise converted its elephant camps into elephant conservation-based tourism camps in a bid to earn revenue while providing income for 3000 mahouts, or elephant handlers, and help maintain the company’s herd of pachyderms, which are used to move felled trees out of the woods.

“Elephant conservation-based tourism has proven successful. Also we need to do more hospitality training for people who live in the camps and build more infrastructure in the camps,” U Moe Myint, deputy general manager of Myanma Timber, told The Myanmar Times.

Myanma Timber owns 3078 elephants, of which 514 are under 4, 734 are between 4 and 18, and 1597 are 18 to 55 years old. The rest, 233, are retired elephants.

Each elephant above 4 years old needs a mahout to train it for working with people, which is why the company has more than 2500 mahouts.

Among the 3078 elephants, the company uses 205 elephants at its 18 elephant camps, it said.

“We are looking for more places to open elephant conservation-based tourism camps,” he added.

The camps charge an entrance fee of K1000, and an elephant ride costs K5000 for locals. However, foreign tourists are charged K20,000 for the entrance fee and elephant ride.

To read the full article, click on the story title.

SCBI Scientists Find Elephant Poaching Crisis in Myanmar



Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists and Clemson University scientists are tracking elephants via satellite collars in Myanmar, where their efforts to understand how Asian elephants use their habitat has revealed a troubling rise in poaching. These elephants are being poached for their skin, not ivory. That means males, females and calves are all victims of poaching. Their work on the ground to detect and prevent poaching and reaching out to the local community is helping save this critically endangered species.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hunters prey on wild elephants in Yoma



Elephant hunters are targetting the Rakhine Yoma elephant sanctuary, which is considered one of the last remaining safe havens for wild elephants in Myanmar.

Approximately 100 wild elephants inhabit the sanctuary, but this area is being threatened by brutal attacks on wild elephants nationwide, according to conservationists.


“This sanctuary is a refuge for the remaining wild elephants.” said U Aung Kyaw, wildlife trade coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

“In 2011 and 2012, it was a good place for wild elephants, but there were elephant killings on occasion in the sanctuary,” he added.


According to a WCS statement released on Monday, a hunter was arrested on April 2 for killing a wild elephant in the sanctuary.

Authorities are still hunting for three other people involved in the killing of the elephant, the statement said.

About 114.1 kilograms of elephant parts, such as dried trunk, skin and meat were recovered recently in the area, according to the Forest Department.

“It is a rare case in this sanctuary. And we can say it is the first time an elephant was killed in this area,” said U San Win, administrator of the sanctuary. “Four people were arrested, including a local resident.”

U San Win said there are 24 staff in the sanctuary and 17 of them regularly patrol the area.

“We have very few people and we can’t cover all of the area. If we had enough staff and we could cooperate with the police to stop wildlife hunting in the area,” he added.

The sanctuary is a very important haven for wild elephants and other rare species of wild animals but if they cannot be protected, they will face extinction, according to U San Win. The wildlife reserve, located in a remote area of the Rakhine Yoma range in southwest Myanmar. It comprises 39,332 square kilometres, is very difficult to access, and is one of the biggest elephant habitats.

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Tour operators, timber company see bright future for elephant tourism



The government-run Myanma Timber Enterprise had earned about K430 million (US$325,535) since it began operating 18 elephant conservation-based tourism camps around the country two years ago.

The government has banned timber extraction for a period of one year for the whole country and for 10 years in Bago Yoma Hills in central Myanmar, effective from the 2016-17 fiscal year.

As a result of the ban, the management of Myanma Timber Enterprise converted its elephant camps into elephant conservation-based tourism camps in a bid to earn revenue while providing income for 3000 mahouts, or elephant handlers, and help maintain the company’s herd of pachyderms, which are used to move felled trees out of the woods.

“Elephant conservation-based tourism has proven successful. Also we need to do more hospitality training for people who live in the camps and build more infrastructure in the camps,” U Moe Myint, deputy general manager of Myanma Timber, told The Myanmar Times.

Myanma Timber owns 3078 elephants, of which 514 are under 4, 734 are between 4 and 18, and 1597 are 18 to 55 years old. The rest, 233, are retired elephants.

Each elephant above 4 years old needs a mahout to train it for working with people, which is why the company has more than 2500 mahouts.

Among the 3078 elephants, the company uses 205 elephants at its 18 elephant camps, it said.

“We are looking for more places to open elephant conservation-based tourism camps,” he added.

The camps charge an entrance fee of K1000, and an elephant ride costs K5000 for locals. However, foreign tourists are charged K20,000 for the entrance fee and elephant ride.

“We have to return to the government all income from entrance fees and elephant rided,” U Moe Myint said. “That income is only enough to cover the elephants’ food and medicines but is not sufficient to pay the mahouts, who are paid by the government.”

The Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA) and Myanma Timber met to discuss developing more elephant conservation-based tourism camps on April 9.

“There a lot of things done with elephants in the tourism industry of other countries, and we need to do more,” said U Min Thein, vice chairman of UMTA. “Also, Myanma Timber and tourism operators need to cooperate more.”

Elephant conservation-based tourism needs more promotion by cooperating with tourism operators, he said.

“This kind of tourism would be very successful if we strengthen cooperation,” U Min Thein said. “But we need to train the elephants more and promote the camps more.”

There are 52 veterinarians for the 3078 elephants, so the government needs to encourage more people to study veterinary medicine to ensure the conservation of Myanmar’s treasured elephants, said Dr Zaw Min Oo, a vet and manager of Myanma Timber.

“Some elephant camps are very far from cities, so vets have to stay for more than 20 days in a month, and move from camp to camp with poor facilities,” he said.

The younger generation is not interested in veterinary jobs, because they have no benefits, status or incentives,” he said.

According to the Emergency Elephant Response Unit, 59 wild elephants were killed during the 2017-18 fiscal year by poaching, which has become a major threat to the animals.

Burma’s wild elephant numbers have dropped dramatically over the past 50 years and appear to still be in decline, according to elephant conservation group EleAid.

Among the major threats are poaching and habitat loss and fragmentation, it added.

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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Refugees Fleeing Violence In Myanmar Have A New Worry: Elephants



KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh ― Around midnight on Jan. 19, a heavy sound jolted Anwar Begum out of her sleep. Something was breaking down the bamboo beams holding up her makeshift hut in a refugee camp for displaced Rohingya in southeastern Bangladesh. Her husband, Yakub Ali, thought it was someone trying to break in.

Suddenly, the central pillar broke, hitting Begum in the head.

Dazed, she pulled herself out from under the collapsed hut. Once outside, she realized that it wasn’t a person destroying their house but an elephant. As the massive animal lunged again, Begum squeezed between its legs and ran to safety. Her screams had woken up the neighbors, who helped save Begum’s two young children from the rubble.


Her husband wasn’t as lucky. When Begum looked back inside her demolished home, there were splinters of bamboo sticking out of his body. “Blood was flowing everywhere,” she said in a recent interview.

Begum, 40, is one of more than 688,000 Rohingya who have been forced out of Myanmar’s western Rakhine State and into neighboring Bangladesh since Aug. 25, 2017. Although the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, have lived in Rakhine for centuries, the Myanmar government does not recognize them as citizens, and the violence against them has escalated over the last eight months. Many Rohingya have sought shelter in Bangladesh.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Music festival for wildlife to be held in Myanmar's Yangon



A first-ever music festival "Voices for Wildlife" will be held in Myanmar's Yangon in April, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Saturday.

Jointly organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Embassy of Denmark in Myanmar, the Mahabandoola Park in Yangon will host the music festival on April 7.

The music concert aims to share awareness to the public for eradicating wildlife trafficking, the biggest challenges faced in the country as well as in other countries.

Meanwhile, an elephant-focused campaign against illegal trade named "Voices for Momos," a friendly term used for elephants in the country, was launched by the WWF-Myanmar in November last year.

Also, Myanmar government has planned to shut down at least 20 illegal wildlife trade markets in Golden Triangle border region by 2020 with the help of the wildlife conservation groups.

In Golden Triangle border region which is between Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, wildlife species such tigers, elephants are mostly traded as well as rhinoceros, serow, helmeted hornbill, gaur, leopard and turtles are also traded in the region.

Myanmar has also signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to protect wild elephants, setting aside 9,205 square miles for elephant sanctuaries.

Both local and international non-governmental organizations are exerting efforts to expand the area of land for wildlife reserve in the country.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Elephant camp to be opened in Bagan-Nyaung Oo

Bagan-A new elephant camp will be opened near the Palin village in Nyaung Oo Township, Mandalay Region on March 28 according to assistant general manager of Myanmar Timber Enterprise Than Soe Oo.
The new elephant camp is 5 mile distant from Nyaung Oo near Ayeyarwaddy River. As the timber production has nearly stopped, an elephant camp has been introduced to give awareness on environmental conservation, to cherish wild life, to provide elephants and staff when they are temporarily resting from their duties and to create job opportunities for the locals in the region.
“We are planning to open on March 28. There will be 4 elephants there. We also showcase elephant’s taming show, and there will be a restaurant. We are doing our best to open in time,” said Than Soe Oo.
The camp is situated on 4.18 acres wide. From there, local and foreign visitors can enjoy sunrise and sunset views of Ayeyarwaddy River. The entrance fee is Ks.1000 for a person and Ks.5000 each for elephant ride. For foreigners, it will cost Ks.20, 000 per person.
Myanmar Timber Enterprise is opening three elephant camps in Kathar and Mawleik in Sagaing Region and currently Palin Kantharyar camp.

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 http://elevenmyanmar.com/local/13614

Poachers are killing endangered Asian elephants for their skin and meat, not their tusks



A poached elephant in Myanmar. The elephant had been wearing a satellite-GPS collar as part of a Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute study tracking elephant movements to mitigate human-elephant conflict. (Photo: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute)

Poaching wasn’t the largest conservation concern for Asian elephants, an endangered species, until satellite tracking stunned researchers.

Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) have found that poaching, not for elephant tusks but for the animal’s meat and skins, is an emerging crisis for Asian elephants in Myanmar. The findings were published March 13 in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

The team first became aware of the crisis while conducting an unrelated study fitting Asian elephants— which are smaller than their African cousins—with satellite GPS collars to understand their movements better and reduce human-elephant conflict.

“It was a shock,” says Christie Sampson, who is lead author of the paper, a doctoral student at Clemson University and an SCBI doctoral fellow. “We started off with really great ideas of how we were going to be able to track the elephants across the landscape. The GPS collars were supposed to last three to five years, but we started losing the elephants relatively quickly.”

The shortest time between an elephant being collared and being poached was six days.

Of the 19 elephants fitted with satellite GPS collars, seven were poached within a year. The toll rose the longer they investigated, with on-the-ground partners finding the mutilated carcasses of 40 additional elephants in systematic surveys across the southern-central region of the country.

With skin torn from their bodies and limbs hacked off, the sight of the dead elephants was distressing for local partners whose main goal is to protect the elephants.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wild elephant butchered in Ngaputaw township

A wild elephant was brutally killed in Ngaputaw township, Ayeyarwady Region, despite the announcement of a K3 million reward for information leading to the arrest of elephant poachers.

On March 12, a local reported the killing of an elephant to the region’s forest department. The animal was skinned and its tusks were removed, according to the forest department.

The department and other governmental agencies are currently investigating the matter, according to U Khun Pyone Naing, officer of the Ngaputaw forest department.

“Most hunters are not locals. They come from other areas and persuade locals to collaborate through bribery,” he added.

In Ngaputaw township, three wild elephants were killed since January, officials said.

U Khun Pyone Naing asked for the villagers’ cooperation to fight the plight of illegal wildlife trade and to protect endangered species.

“Before this elephant, two hunters who tried to kill elephants were arrested thanks to the cooperation of locals after the reward was advertised,” said U Khun Pyone naing.

Friends of Wildlife (FOW), World Wildlife Fund and the forest department are cooperating to reduce wildlife hunting by putting up posters which read: “Please, help and cooperate to reduce the killing of wild elephants and get a chance to receive K3 million by providing information on the whereabouts of the hunters”. Posters are displayed in Ayeyarwady Region’s Ngaputaw and Thapaung townships, according to FOW, which added that killings of elephants are still ongoing.

Last year, 29 hunters were arrested and 12 wild elephants were killed while six died of natural causes in Ayeyarwady Region, according to forest department.

“The hunters arrested will be judged according to the laws such as the protection of wildlife and conservation natural areas law,” said U Khin Maung Myint, director of the Ayeyarwady Region forest department.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Asian elephants have different personality traits just like humans

Researchers of the University of Turku, Finland, have studied a timber elephant population in Myanmar and discovered that Asian elephant personality manifests through three different factors. The personality factors identified by the researchers are Attentiveness, Sociability and Aggressiveness.

As is commonly known, people have different personalities, and the structure of human personality can be divided into five factors. Other species' behaviour also differs between individuals: some are braver, more social, or aggressive than others.

"These kinds of consistent differences in behaviour are called personality. Personality studies on other species than humans have so far focused on primates, pets and zoo populations, or on species that have a relatively short lifespan. Besides humans, personality studies on other long-lived species living in their natural habitat are rare," says Postdoctoral Researcher and the lead author of the study Martin Seltmann from the Department of Biology at the University of Turku.

The researchers of the University of Turku studied a semi-captive population of timber elephants in Myanmar and discovered that Asian elephants have three different personality factors: Attentiveness, Sociability and Aggressiveness. The researchers also identified that male and female elephants do not differ in these three personality factors.

"Attentiveness is related to how an elephant acts in and perceives its environment. Sociability describes how an elephant seeks closeness to other elephants and humans, and how popular they are as social partners. Aggressiveness shows how aggressively an elephant acts towards other elephants and how much it interferes in their social interaction," describes Dr Seltmann.

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EU Calls on Myanmar to Take Action to Save Shrinking Elephant Population

Government urged to close down illegal wildlife markets around the country The post EU Calls on Myanmar to Take Action to Save Shrinking Elephant Population appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

 YANGON—The European Union urged the Myanmar government to strengthen efforts to protect its wild elephant population, which is on the brink of extinction due to poaching to supply the illegal trade in ivory and skins, as well as to end the open sale of elephant and other illegal wildlife parts in markets in its major cities, at popular tourist sites and along its borders.

In a statement to mark World Wildlife Day on Saturday, more than two dozen ambassadors of the European Union and its member states warned that Myanmar’s wild elephant population would be wiped out in a matter of years as poaching for tusks and other parts remains a huge challenge globally with Myanmar facing an “unprecedented elephant skinning crisis”.

In recent years, the Myanmar government has been working on strengthening the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Law, establishing more than 40 protected areas for wildlife, developing action plans for elephants and tigers, training and deploying rangers, and instituting wildlife training for government staff about the illegal wildlife trade. The EU and its member states have supported some of these efforts through the provision of technical support and capacity building.

“In particular, we would recommend that the Government of Myanmar ends the open sale of elephant and other illegal wildlife parts, which today are widely sold in markets in Yangon, Mandalay, Kyeikhteeyoe and along Myanmar’s borders,” the statement said.

According to WWF-Myanmar, at least one elephant is killed by hunters in Myanmar every week. Elephant skin, tail hairs, teeth and ivory are sold at tourist sites such as the Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Bago Region), while ivory is sold in Yangon and Mandalay. Large markets also operate in the ‘Golden Triangle’ border area Myanmar shares with China, Laos and Thailand.

In such markets, elephant skin is sold dried for traditional ‘medicine’ or polished into beads and sold as lucky charm bracelets. The tail hairs are put into silver rings and worn for luck.

Last month, the WWF-Myanmar met with the trustee members of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon to hold an awareness program for souvenir shop owners at the pagoda stairways to educate them on the harm done by selling ivory and other wild animal related objects.

The EU statement released on Wednesday added that as long as these markets continue to sell illegal wildlife products, Myanmar’s wildlife will be at risk, and Myanmar’s position as a global and regional illegal wildlife trade hub will continue and grow as other countries in the region close their domestic markets. China shut its domestic ivory market in January this year and Hong Kong has also committed to ban ivory trading.

“Concrete action, such as developing a more robust legal framework in line with global standards — and ensuring its effective enforcement — would send a clear message that Myanmar has a zero-tolerance approach to wildlife crime,” the statement said.

The EU ambassadors also encouraged the government to take action now so that Myanmar can attend the 2018 London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in October, not only to renew its commitments to the 2014 London Declaration on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, but also to take up its place as a regional leader in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.

In mid-February, the government launched The Myanmar Elephant Conservation Action Plan (MECAP), a strategy for the next 10 years (2018–27) with the overall aim of securing viable and ecologically functional elephant populations in Myanmar for the next century and beyond with support from international and local organizations.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, 18 wild elephants were poached in 2016, and 30 were killed last year. The current population is estimated at just 1,400-2,000, compared to 10,000 in 1997.

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Myanmar to open elephant camps in central regions

YANGON, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar authorities have planned to open three elephant camps in Mandalay and Magway regions by April, before the fall of water festival, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.

 The three elephant camps include Pulin Kanthayar elephant camp housing seven elephants in Nyaung-U, War Nat elephant camp with six elephants in Pyin-Oo-Lwin, Mandalay region and Shwe Sattaw camp with six elephants in Magway region, respectively.

Meanwhile, Myanmar Timber Enterprise and Four Paws International (EPI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for establishing elephant camps and conservation of elephants with the use of 1.8 million Euros (2.1 million U.S. dollars).

At present, the implementation of elephant camp-based tourism was initiated by the Myanmar Timber Enterprise since 2016, establishing a total of 16 elephant camps so far.


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Police arrest elephant poaching ring in in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy region

At least one elephant is killed by hunters in Myanmar every week, says WWF-Myanmar.

The Forestry Police arrested an elephant poaching ring in Irrawaddy Region’s Ngapudaw Township in Myanmar, The Irrawaddy reported.
 poac
Acting on a tip, combined forces from the Forestry Police, Nga Yoke Kaung sub-township police department, the Forestry Department, village administrators and Elephant Emergency Response Units (EERU) cornered the ring in Myittayar Forest Reserve in Ngapudaw Township. Two poachers were arrested and one escaped, local village tract administrator U Kyaw Myint Tun told The Irrawaddy.

“We arrested two hunters with poaching equipment. Another poacher got away, but we are going after him. We are undertaking plans to prevent elephant poaching in our region,” he said.

The two hunters who were arrested are respectively from Rakhine State’s Taungup Township and Ngapudaw Township. The third poacher from Magwe Region is still at large.

Percussion firearms, metal bolts, iron rods, arrows, gunpowder and more were seized from the poachers, according to the Forestry Police.

“It is important to arrest poachers before they kill an elephant,” said Ko Sai Zaw Oo, an official of a local elephant conservation group in Ngapudaw Township.

Police have opened a case against the two poachers. Last year, 13 wild elephants were killed in Pathein, Ngapudaw and Thabaung, and Irrawaddy Region remains the main elephant poaching ground in Myanmar.

In February, the European Union urged the Myanmar government to strengthen efforts to protect its wild elephant population, warning that it is on the brink of extinction due to poaching to supply the illegal trade of ivory and skins.

EU ambassadors also urged the Myanmar government to end the open sale of elephant and other illegal wildlife parts in markets in its major cities, at popular tourist sites and along its borders.

According to WWF-Myanmar, at least one elephant is killed by hunters in Myanmar every week. Elephant skin, hair, teeth and ivory are sold at tourist sites such as the Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Bago Region), while ivory is sold in Yangon and Mandalay. Large markets also operate in the ‘Golden Triangle’ border area Myanmar shares with China, Laos and Thailand.

In mid-February, the government launched The Myanmar Elephant Conservation Action Plan (MECAP), a strategy for the next 10 years (2018–27) with the overall aim of securing viable and ecologically functional elephant populations in Myanmar for the next century and beyond with support from international and local organizations.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, 18 wild elephants were poached in 2016, and 30 were killed last year. The current population is estimated at just 1,400-2,000, compared to 10,000 in 1997.

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Elephant poaching emerging crisis in Myanmar

Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) have found that poaching is an emerging crisis for Asian elephants in Myanmar, according to a report on the nationalzoo.si.edu website.

Researchers first became aware of the crisis while conducting an unrelated telemetry study in which they fitted 19 Asian elephants with satellite GPS collars to better understand elephant movements and reduce human-elephant conflict. Seven of those 19 elephants were poached within a year of being fitted with the collars. The findings suggest that human-elephant conflict, which was thought to be the biggest threat to Myanmar’s wild elephants, may be secondary to poaching. And conservation efforts to help the 1,400 to 2,000 wild elephants in Myanmar should prioritize anti-poaching efforts.

Observations and discoveries from SCBI’s partners on the ground in Myanmar found further evidence of large-scale poaching. In less than two years, they confirmed that at least 19 elephants, including the seven with satellite GPS collars, were poached. And systematic surveys showed an additional 40 poached elephants were found across the southern central region of the country. 

Unlike African elephants, Myanmar’s elephants are being targeted by poachers for their skin instead of ivory. In Asian elephants, only males have tusks, which can vary in size, the report said.

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Wildlife traders arrested with elephant tusks and tails in Tak

Tak provincial police yesterday (Mar 14) arrested two wildlife traders after finding 24 elephant tusks and 16 elephant tails in their pickup truck.
 
The two suspects Saitarn Maliwan, 45, the driver, and his passenger Bunoeng Uttawat, 54, a mahout, were ordered to stop for search after their vehicle passed Huay Ya-u checkpoint in Tak.
 
Both confessed to the police that they bought the elephant tusks and tails from Myanmar poachers at the border for resale to customers in the northeastern provinces. They said the tusks were meant for home decoration while the tails for talismans.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Elephant camp opens in Dr Brandis’s teak plantation in Pyay

An elephant camp has opened in Dr Brandis’s teak plantation on Yangon-Pyay road in Pyay Township in west Bago region. 
 
The teak plantation was first devised by Dr Dietrich Brandis, a German-British forester, in 1857. The plantation started with 511 teak plants and in 1960, it covered 78 acres with 3,503 teak plants.  
 
Tun Tun Oo, deputy general-manager of Bago region Forest Department, said: “In the past, no one was allowed to enter the camp. Now we have opened the camp in order that the people can visit the nature of plants and enjoy elephant riding.
 
“This plantation was established after the British captured lower Myanmar in the Anglo-Burmese War. This is the first man-made teak plantation, and visitors can enjoy seeing the biggest teak tree here.”
 
Tin Min Oo, assistant general-manager of Pyay District Forest Department, said: “We will open the elephant camp in order for visitors to enjoy the nature of teak trees.”

Fees for a short elephant-ride tour will be K5,000 and, for a long trip, K10,000

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Elephant camp in Mandalay aims to emulate Thai tourism success

The first elephant camp providing tourist attractions opened in Pyin Oo Lwin township, Mandalay Region, on Saturday.

Myanma Timber Enterprise, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental

Conservation, opened the Dee Doke Waterfall Elephant Camp nine miles from Ye Ywar Hydro Power Project Road near Kyauk Chaw Vullage.

It will start welcoming tourists soon, said U Nandar Soe, deputy general manager of Pyin Oo Lwin Timber Production Area, on Saturday.

“We have made this a pilot project on how to live in harmony with elephants in nature. Thailand started to attract travellers with elephants that can draw pictures, and we will try to achieve that same level. We have been making preparations for the past four months,” he said.

The camp is aimed at helping elephants and staff who previously worked in the timber industry because the government has reduced timber production. It also aims to create income from elephant-related tourism, said U Nandar Soe.

“The camp covers 74 acres. We also have an estimated 100 acres for grazing land. We currently have only six elephants, and we can only add four more because of the limited grazing area,” he said.

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Fossilised bones of ancient elephants discovered near Mandalay’s Mount Popa

Fossilised ancient elephant bones have been found near Mount Popa in Kyaukpadaung township, Mandalay Region, U Than Tun, chair of the Mount Popa Global Geopark Development Committee, said on Thursday.

“We are doing research to register Mount Popa and its surrounding area on the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list. We discovered the [elephant fossils] on Monday.

“We found bones of ancient elephants before. Now, we have found some bones that are bigger than the previous ones. We will display them in exhibitions,” he said.

The bones were discovered near Than Bo village, northwest of Mount Popa, near the site of the first discovery. The bones could be 1.5 million to 15 million years old, he said.

“The fossilised bones are a calf bone, knee bone, jaw and molar teeth. We will conduct more research,” he said.

Mount Popa is currently transitioning to become a global geo-park recognised by UNESCO.

The forests in the area are covered with volcanic ash, bones of ancient elephants, ancient furnace sites of the Bagan Kingdom, natural springs and deer fossils.

As the area is home to natural resources and Myanmar’s cultural legacy, the site is being submitted to UNESCO for listing of the 240 square miles around Mount Popa as a global geo-park. There are more than 120 UNESCO global geo-parks around the world.

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An elephant sanctuary in the Rakhine Yoma

By the time our powered schooner got to the sentry post of the Sanctuary adjacent to the Kyaintali Creek, we began to breathe in fresh smells from the forest. We saw several huts in the sentry post not far away from the edge of the creek. Surrounded by thick jungles and high mountains, the Yadanmyaing village is 33 miles away from Gwa township and we proceeded to the edge of the sentry post for 13 miles bt powered schooner along the creek.

The location of the sentry post is more than 10 miles from the nearest village and is situated near the boundary of the Sanctuary. Named as the Kyainkhakhon post, it is one of the three sentry posts in Rakhine Yoma elephant sanctuary. It is built along the Kyaintali Creek for easy accessibility to the Rakhine Yoma Sanctuary.

Importance of locality
As the creek streams along the whole south side of the Sanctuary, the sentry post plays an important role in preventing the danger of collapse of the creek edges. Other two important sentry posts are the Bogale and Kyachaung posts. The three sentry posts protect all wild animals including other wild animals roaming about in this sanctuary.

This sanctuary is the first of its kind in Myanmar, according to administrator U San Win of the Rakhine Yoma Sanctuary. “ We just want to let the public know this sanctuary is very important for wild elephants. If we cannot control the situation, the wild elephants in the Rakhine Yoma will be threatened with extinction. This sanctuary is also important for wild animals of rare species. Rich grazing for wild animals There are many rare animal species in this sanctuary: 40 kinds of mammals including rare Myanmar wild elephants, tigers and bison , 63 kinds of amphibians and reptiles, 26 kinds of butterflies, 28 kinds of freshwater fish and 12 kinds of insects. Naturally-grown trees of 75 kinds include ironwood trees and large timber trees, 11 kinds of orchids, 9 kinds of bamboo, four kinds of cane and 47 kinds of medicinal plants, according to some records.

The Rakhine Yoma elephant sanctuary is ecologically evergreen environment which is covered by 70% of the bamboo forest. On east side of the Sanctuary borders townships of Kyankin, Myanaung, Ingapu and Laymyetnar and on the south with Gwa township and on the north side with Thandwe township. In 1997 the sanctuary was set aside for wild elephants and legalized in 2002. The area of this sanctuary is over 430,000 acres wide.

Research
While we stayed at the Kyainkhakhon post, we went into thick forest for about eight miles along the Kyaintali Creek. Our three schooners faced strong torrents and sometimes we had to wade through the shallow water. Along the way we went across several small streams with their respective background information on their names.
The location of Rakhine Yoma elephant sanctuary is among the high mountains: narrow creeks and small streams with big blocks of rock in between. The sanctuary is hard to reach on foot but through narrow creeks and small streams.

An atmosphere of serenity
Pointing at high mountains and a grove of bamboo , U Saw Htoo Tha Po, the keeper at the Yoma elephant sanctuary said the atmosphere of serenity still remains intact: rich pasture for wild elephants naturally and geographically; a place of no threat for wild animals; an area specifically demarcated for the sanctuary; no deforestation; and ecological systems have not dramatically changed.

U Saw Htoo Tha Po, senior coordinator at Wildlife Sanctuary(Myanmar Program), gets deeply involved in the protection of wild elephants and related research. Our 15-member group found the footprints and faeces of wild animals on the way and picked them up for putting on record and doing research. About a hundred of wild elephants are believed by authorities to be roaming about in this sanctuary. This number is inconsistent with scientific way of counting. U Saw Htoo Tha Po explained that scientific research is required to count wild elephants.

Making a list
He has been trying hard to know in coming years to locate where wild elephants graze in the Sanctuary. After knowing the location of grazing ground, the number of wild elephants should be put on record by doing research. Many small groups will have to cover the sanctuary of 400,000 acres within a fortnight by doing research five times during a period of three months. Collecting data get involved in using DNA analysis of their faeces to distinguish between individual animals. The faeces must be sent abroad for further analysis which will cost much. For the time being as they are focusing on the protection of wild animals, the above analyses could be carried out within a period of several years, U Saw Htoo Tha Po pointed out.

Rare species such as elephants, bison, and birds roaming about in this Sanctuary have been under threat by poachers, according to Sanctuary administrator U San Win. Wild elephants are being killed by poachers in the forest reserves of Gwa and Taungnyo adjoining the Sanctuary. “ Hunters from the townships of Kyankhin, Myanaung, Ingapu, and Laymyetnar in Ayeyawady region are found to have invaded to hunt wild animals and poison fish; hunting causes a lot of problems in the region,” according to U San Win.

Beyond control
According to the set-up of the Sanctuary, there are 81 employees; but there currently 25 with 15 going out on patrol. Due to lack of public service personnel, we find it difficult to go on with present
workforce, he continued. With support from Wildlife Sanctuary( Myanmar Program), the employees keep patrolling together with newly-recruited local employees Wild animals are being protected in cooperation with Myanmar program. The number of rangers are 25 only; they are divided into three groups with each group including eight rangers. They have to patrol the whole area for 20 days only. Sometimes these rangers happen to confront with 20 or so hunters armed with bayonets, guns and a herd of hunting dogs and they have to retreat.

Revelation of evidences
When rangers are on patrol, they sometimes find and seize racks, huts and percussion lock firearms from the hunters. Bison’s flesh is found selling in a village near the Sanctuary, it is tantamount to the kill of hunters, employees say. To solve the problems , recruitment of more employees, the extension of more sentry posts, educating local populace and joint patrol with police force are essential elements for effective actions. Rangers on patrol are required to be armed, some advised.

The sanctuary under threat While wild elephants in the Rakhine Yoma Sanctuary are now under threat, a wild elephant is being killed every week across the country, say the keepers for Myanmar Wild Elephants. According to the Forest Department ,140 elephants were killed by poachers from 2010 to 2017. “Even though the Rakhine Yoma Sanctuary is under threat, proper maintenance of the Sanctuary will be beneficial for nature-based tourism. It will pay the way for studying the local fauna and flora; it will also create job opportunities for local populace,” the sanctuary administrator U San Win pointed out.

“As this Sanctuary is a natural habitat for wild elephants, conservation of this wide area is urgently needed” said U Saw Htoo Tha Po, who has been doing research on wild elephants in Rakhine Yoma.

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Asian Elephants Are Now Being Killed for Their Skin

The smell was ghastly and the sight even worse. Twenty-five elephants lay dead in a riverbed in the Ayeyawady (Irrawaddy) delta in southwestern Myanmar. “The stench is what led villagers to the bodies in the first place,” says Aung Myo Chit, the Smithsonian Institution’s Myanmar country coordinator, who also leads a local NGO, Growth for Prosperity, that helps rural residents avoid deadly conflicts with elephants.

It was the trust Aung Myo Chit’s outreach workers had earned that led villagers of Nga Pu Taw Township to reveal the dead elephants. Ordinarily, local people avoid reporting poaching to the authorities for fear they’ll be blamed.

By the time Aung Myo Chit’s filmmaker colleague Klaus Reisinger got there in early May, the giant carcasses had deteriorated badly. “Their bellies were bloated,” Reisinger recalls with a shudder.

Captive elephants are often used to drag carcasses of elephants slain for their ivory out of riverbeds where they’re commonly found. But that wasn’t possible this time. The skin had been stripped from the bodies, leaving them to tear apart if moved. So staff with the Myanmar Forest Department who came to investigate burned them in place to prevent their contaminating the downstream water supply.

Such spectacles are familiar on African savannas, where elephants are more numerous and poachers have stalked their ivory for decades. Not so in the thick forests of Myanmar, where the country’s remaining 1,200 to 1,400 endangered wild elephants are elusive and only the males (and not all males) have tusks.

But this and other, smaller recent slaughters in the Ayeyawady delta were not ivory raids. Poachers had killed males, tuskless females, and calves alike in pursuit of a different prize: their skins.

Using elephant skin and other body parts is nothing new in Southeast Asia. In Myanmar and elsewhere—particularly in tribal areas—the skin is dried, ground, mixed with oils, and applied to treat eczema and other skin conditions.

“But there’s a lot we don’t know,” says Martin Tyson, a Wildlife Conservation Society biologist who’s helping Myanmar’s government draft an elephant conservation plan. “Recently Chinese biologists said it’s used for upset stomachs.”

According to Aung Myo Chit, something seems to have surprised the poachers who killed the 25 elephants earlier this year. They “left behind the skins which they’d put up to dry over bone fires.

They hung up the skin like laundry. Some bags were confiscated with raw hides still rolled up on pieces of wood and severed elephant trunks.”

“Rolled up like toilet paper,” Reisinger adds. “People tell me they can skin an elephant in four or five minutes.” Because of heavy penalties for gun ownership, the high-powered rifles used by poachers in Africa are rare in Myanmar. Instead, poachers often use darts and metal and bamboo spears dipped in readily available pesticides; the elephants die slow, painful deaths.

Professional poachers “go into an area and find local guides,” Tyson says. “The guides often get arrested, and the poachers get away. But the amount guides can earn is probably months’ worth of what they could gain by any other activity.”


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