YANGON – A giant sculpture of Momo the elephant, created by artist Arker Kyaw and Myanmar traditional papier-mâché sculptor U Myint (Yote Lone Kabar), was officially announced as the largest supported papier-mâché sculpture in the world by the Guinness World Records this week.
The sculpture was made for the ‘Voices for Momos’ campaign which calls for an end to illegal wildlife trade in Myanmar and was organized by six international wildlife conservation agencies including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
WWF Myanmar got the official certificate for the supersized elephant on Aug. 15. ‘Voices for Momos’ was a six-month campaign aimed at raising public awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and called for steps to be taken to end illegal wildlife product sales.
“The team tried so hard and we all dreamed of getting this award. We challenged ourselves. Finally, our dream has come true and our Momo set a new world record,” said Ko Ye Min Thwin, senior communication officer of WFF.
The sculptures were displayed at a public event, which was part of the ‘Voices for Momos’ campaign, along with six other papier-mâché elephants in Yangon in November 2017.
The awarded supersized elephant sculpture is 5.6m high, 5.8m long and 2.15m wide with a bamboo frame support. The frame was built in the traditional Myanmar method and covered in recycled newspapers.
“The impact is that more international organizations notice us and many people from abroad also now have more awareness of Myanmar’s elephant hunting and wildlife smuggling. It will be more easy to connect with organizations like us and the government can approach international [bodies] about the campaign and for support,” said Ko Ye Min Thwin.
He added that, “Local people also got knowledge of the problem of illegal elephant trading, killings and that elephants will be extinct later. That was our main target and we were successful to some extent.”
After the six-month long ‘Voices for Momos’ campaign, the rate of elephant killings has dropped by half. Before the campaign, 3.6 elephant population was killed per month and this has decreased to 1.6 according to Ko Ye Min Thwin.
“Voices for Momos” was launched last November 2017 in an effort to stem the crisis of elephant poaching and skinning in Myanmar.