Burma

Wild Elephant Poached and Skinned in Myanmar Forest Reserve

By Salai Thant Zin 12 September 2019

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region—Local authorities found a wild elephant poached and skinned in Myittaya Forest Reserve in Ngapudaw Township, Irrawaddy Region on Sunday.

“The elephant might have died two days ago,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Tun Shwe, spokesperson for the Irrawaddy Region Police Force, told The Irrawaddy. “We found injuries on its neck and ears, and half of its body was skinned.”

Local residents of Htantabin Village found the dead elephant in the forest reserve around 5 miles west of their village and informed forestry police, local police and village administrators about the elephant.

The female elephant was over 2 m tall and 2 m long. She was approximately 23 years old. She is the second elephant to be poached in 2019 in Ngapudaw Township. The first elephant was poached in February.

“We are doing our best to keep wild elephants safe in our region and we are sorry that an elephant was killed despite our efforts,” said U Kyaw Myint Tun, administrator for Tin Chaung Village-Tract. “The authorities should adopt a systematic plan for elephant conservation rather than a reactive approach.”

U Kyaw Myint Tun has won an award from State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for his efforts to conserve elephants.

In the past, elephants were mainly poached for their tusks but over the past few years they have increasingly been poached for their hides. Demand for elephant hides has increased and, as with tusks, the hides are mostly smuggled to China.

Most elephant poaching takes place in Irrawaddy Region, especially in Pathein, Ngapudaw and Thabaung townships.

Myanmar’s elephant population is now estimated to be between 1,600 and 2,000, a drastic decline from the estimated population of 10,000 in the 1940s, according to the Forest Department. Poaching is the primary driver of this continuing decline.

Elephant poaching in Irrawaddy Region has declined significantly thanks to collaborative efforts between local authorities, police, civilians and civil society organizations engaged in the conservation of these prized pachyderms. Last year, poachers killed eight elephants in Irrawaddy Region, a significant improvement from the 16 killed by poachers in 2017.

This story was translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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