Myanmar's wild elephants “in danger of becoming extinct

Myanmar's wild elephants “in danger of becoming extinct

By Myanmar Now  01/11/2017
Ei Cherry Aung/Myanmar Now

An ageing elephant in Yangon Zoo. Photo: Pyae Pyae/Myanmar Now)

Yangon— Conservationists are warning of dire consequences if Myanmar does not do more to stem wild elephant poaching, which is killing at least one of the wild animals every week due to rising demand for their body parts and skin.

“Wild elephants are in danger of becoming extinct in a few years if the present situation cannot be stopped,” Ye Min Thwin, WWF communications officer, told reporters at a press conference this month.

Although the number of wild elephants in Myanmar is estimated between 1,400 and 2,000, the real figure is likely to be lower, said Zaw Min Oo, deputy director of the state-backed Myanmar Timber Enterprise.

Zaw Min Oo also raised concerns about extinction should poaching continue at its current pace.

In addition to tusks and other body parts, elephant skins are sold as traditional medicine or turned into pieces of jewellery. The trade has increased in recent years for reasons that are not entirely clear. Many finished products end up in China, but are also available in local markets.

To combat the problem, six wildlife groups have formed a coalition called Voices for MoMos. MoMo is the name of an ageing elephant at the Yangon Zoo.

Ye Min Thwin from WWF said the Voices of MoMos campaign will be conducted for six months from November.

Aung Myo Chit, a member of a local conservation NGO, said 30 wild elephants were killed in Myanmar in the first eight months of 2017. Government figures show that 16 were killed in all of 2016.

“All the parts of wild elephants can be sold for costume ornaments and traditional medicine,” he said.

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