A wild elephant was killed and skinned in Ayeyarwady Region, in another blow to efforts to conserve the giants of Myanmar’s forests.
The Forest Department said the carcass of the 23-year-old female elephant was found on Tuesday in Myinttayar forest reserve in Ngaputaw township, an area that is known for the poaching of wild elephants.
A veterinarian who examined the carcass said the elephant had probably been dead for two days.
A United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) report this year said Myanmar has a modest trade in elephant skins.
The skins are often found for sale in border markets in special economic zones such as Mine Lar and Tacheilek, where illicit wildlife products are openly traded.
“It has been a long time since we last heard about wild elephant killing,” said U Tun Lay, an environmental activist who was cited last year by the State Counsellor’s Office for his efforts to protect wild elephants from poachers.
The Myanmar government has taken several steps to reduce the illegal wildlife trade and wild elephant poaching. It opened an elephant museum in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of pachyderms to people’s socio-economic wellbeing.
The government also destroyed wildlife parts seized from poachers across the country to send a strong message to illicit traders that the illegal business will not be tolerated.
Last year, the government increased fines and prison terms for illegal wildlife traders.
Forest Department officials and conservationists said most wild elephants are poached in Ayeyarwady and Yangon regions.
In Ayeyarwady, poachers killed five of the seven wild elephants that have died so far this year. In Yangon, poachers killed three of the four wild elephants that died in the same period.
There are an estimated 1400 to 2000 elephants in the country, according to elephant conservation groups.
Local and foreign conservationists said that loss of habitat and people-elephant conflicts are also to blame for the decline in elephant numbers in the wild.