Au­thor­i­ties take aim at il­le­gal wildlife trade

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - MYAT MOE AUNG

MYAN­MAR’S rich bio­di­ver­sity con­tin­ues to be dam­aged by il­le­gal trade and the killing of ele­phants and other wild an­i­mals.

Of the over 20 wild ele­phants that died from Jan­uary through Sep­tem­ber, 17 were killed by poach­ers, ac­cord­ing to the For­est De­part­ment.

More than 46 ele­phants were slaugh­tered last year, and poach­ers killed 84 of the 165 wild ele­phants that died from 2010 to 2017, it said.

Most of the poach­ing oc­curred in Aye­yarwady and Yan­gon re­gions. In Aye­yarwady, poach­ers killed five of the seven wild ele­phants that died, while in Yan­gon, they killed three of the four wild ele­phants that died from Jan­uary to Sep­tem­ber.

The wild ele­phants were killed for their ivory, teeth, skin and trunks, said wildlife con­ser­va­tion ac­tivists.

U Win Naing Thaw, di­rec­tor of the de­part­ment’s Na­ture and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Divi­sion, said that poach­ing of ele­phants has de­clined slightly.

“This year, there were 17 poach­ing cases and ar­rests of 42 peo­ple for killing wild ele­phants and il­le­gal trade of ele­phant parts,” he said.

“Il­le­gal trad­ing is less than in pre­vi­ous years, as peo­ple are more aware of the prob­lem and are co­op­er­at­ing more,” said U Win Naing Thaw.

There are an es­ti­mated 1400 to 2000 ele­phants in the coun­try, but the num­bers could be lower, ac­cord­ing to ele­phant con­ser­va­tion groups.

Lo­cal and for­eign con­ser­va­tion­ists have con­ducted ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes to raise aware­ness of the prob­lem.

Some laws were amended this year in an ef­fort to re­duce ele­phant poach­ing and il­licit wildlife trade.

The Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw (bi­cam­eral leg­is­la­ture) en­acted the amended 1992 Forestry Law on Sep­tem­ber 20, and the Pro­tec­tion of Bio­di­ver­sity and Con­ser­va­tion Ar­eas Law re­placed the 1994 Pro­tec­tion of Wildlife and Con­ser­va­tion of Nat­u­ral Ar­eas Law on May 21.

The de­part­ment ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the new laws will re­duce the il­le­gal wildlife trade, es­pe­cially in Yan­gon.

The Yan­gon City De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee has car­ried out an ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign to raise aware­ness about the il­le­gal wildlife and prod­ucts trade in the city’s mar­kets.

Aside from ele­phants, other an­i­mal parts traded in the il­licit busi­ness in­clude those from tigers, bears, pan­golins, rhi­nos, moun­tain goats, In­dian pied horn­bills, gaurs, leop­ards, tor­toises and snakes.

To demon­strate their se­ri­ous­ness about the cam­paign against the il­le­gal trade, the gov­ern­ment in­cin­er­ated ivory and other wildlife parts worth US$1.3 mil­lion in Nay Pyi Taw in Oc­to­ber.

In the first ac­tion of its kind for Myan­mar, the gov­ern­ment de­stroyed 277 pieces of ivory, 227 ele­phant and an­i­mal bones, 45 an­i­mal skins, 1544 an­i­mal horns, 45.5 kilo­grammes of pan­golin scales and 128 parts of other an­i­mals.

What ef­fect these ac­tions will have on the il­le­gal wildlife trade re­mains to be seen, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts.

Photo: Sup­plied

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