Conservationists alarmed over rising elephant skin trade

Conservationists have raised alarm over the increase in elephant skin trading in the country that targets mother elephants and calves, which could lead to the extinction of wild elephants in the country.


“Unlike ivory poaching, which targets tusked males, the sudden increase in the demand for the skin means the poaching is indiscriminate, with mothers and calves being poisoned and skinned,’’ said Nay Myo Shwe, Tanintharyi Conservation Programme coordinator, Fauna & Flora International Myanmar.

“If this continues it could lead to the extinction of wild elephants in Myanmar,” Nay Myo Shwe warned.

On World Elephant Day on August 12, national and international conservation organisations FFI, WCS, WWF and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute expressed grave concern about the plight of Myanmar’s declining wild elephant population following a surge in demand for the skin.

The wild elephant population in the country has plummeted, with estimates at between 1400 and 2000, however the numbers could be far lower, conservationists said.

They noted that while elephant skin has long been part of the illegal wildlife trade but never at the current levels.

According to Mark Grindley, manager of Tanintharyi Conservation Programme, Fauna & Flora International Myanmar, elephant skin is traded illegally and turned into jewellery or consumed as medicine that has no proven medical value.

He noted that elephant skin and other wildlife trade products are openly sold in tourist destinations in the country, such as Yangon and Kyaiktiyo.

“Closing these markets is a key step if we are to ensure the future of Myanmar’s wild elephant,” said Mark Grindley.

“At least 30 wild elephants have been killed so far in 2017. This is far above the previous yearly killing average for Myanmar,” said Aung Myo Chit, country coordinator of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Christy Williams, country director of the WWF-Myanmar, urged people to report any sale of…

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