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) myanmar.wcs.org
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.
About WWF www.wwf.org.mm/en
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
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About Fauna & Flora International www.fauna-flora.org
FFI protects threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science and take account of human needs. Operating in more than 40 countries worldwide, FFI saves speciaes from extinction and habitats from destruction, while improving the livelihoods of local people. Founded in 1903, FFI is the world’s longest established international conservation body and a registered charity. FFI Myanmar has engaged in elephant conservation in Southern Tanintharyi since 2015, working with the Myanmar Forest Department, international organisations, and local government agencies, CSOs, schools, and Myeik University.
About the International Elephant Foundation www.elephantconservation.org
The International Elephant Foundation is a U.S. based non-profit organization supporting conservation, awareness, and scientific programs that enhance the survival of elephants and protect their habitats worldwide. In addition to other elephant conservation support, IEF provides grants-in-aid for elephant conservation, research, health, management, education and improvements in husbandry of elephants in human care. Since its inception, IEF has supported more than 200 projects in over 20 different countries.
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About Elephant Family www.elephant-family.org
Elephant Family is an NGO dedicated to protecting the Asian elephant whose population has dropped by 90% in the last 100 years. To date it has funded over 150 pioneering projects in 6 countries across Asia to protect this forgotten species from extinction. For more information, please visit www.elephant-family.org. Follow: @elephantfamily
About the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute nationalzoo.si.edu/conservation
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behaviour and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability.