01 February 2017 | Wildlife Conservation Society News Release
YANGON (January 26, 2017): Urgent action is needed to reverse the decline in the wild elephant population of Myanmar, while securing the future of the country’s former timber-trade elephants. These conclusions have been outlined in the Myanmar Elephant Conservation Action Plan (MECAP)— the country’s first ever plan for the conservation of this species developed through extensive consultation over the last 12 months and culminating in a workshop last week in Naypyitaw.
The plan outlines ten-year priorities to safeguard these iconic animals for future generations, including engaging the public in the control of illegal poaching, trade and consumption of elephants and their parts. This strategy plan is also designed to ensure Myanmar’s laws and policies are consistent with international commitments such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
“Elephant conservation started with Myanmar’s kings,” said His Excellency U Ohn Winn, Union Minister for MONREC. “The urgency now for elephant conservation action is due to increasing killing for the illegal trade in ivory and parts. The Myanmar Elephant Conservation Action Plan (MECAP) is very important to support the long-term survival of Myanmar’s Elephants.”
Myanmar is thought to be home to approximately 2,000 wild elephants, which are under increasing threat from poaching for ivory, a growing demand for elephant skin and other parts and the capture of elephants for the live trade. Myanmar also has around 6,000 Asian elephants that were previously used by the timber industry. New measures to secure the future of these elephants are now required in face of the downsizing of the logging sector.
MECAP, led by the Forest Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC), has been developed in collaboration with eight government departments and agencies, including the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) which is the largest owner of elephants in the country. The development process has been supported by numerous international and local experts and organizations including WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), International Elephant Foundation (IEF), Elephant Family, Friends of Wildlife and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI).
The number of elephants killed has increased dramatically since 2010, with 133 wild elephant deaths recorded over the last seven years, including 25 in 2016 alone.
“Habitat loss, poaching and human-elephant conflict are pressing threats to elephant conservation in Myanmar,” said Simon Hedges, Elephant Coordinator at WCS. “This workshop and its resulting outcomes represent a significant achievement towards securing the future of Asian elephants.”
“The Myanmar Government is seriously considering the recommendations of CITES to close its domestic ivory trade and to secure, register and manage our existing stockpiles of ivory,”said U Win Naing Thaw, Director of the Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division (NWCD) of the Forest Department. “We also need additional support for the protection of elephants in the wild. This conservation plan for elephants is a great step forward, and we now have a solid foundation to address this vital issue in Myanmar.”
About WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom and @WCSMyanmar.
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