By Swe Win
| February 19, 2018
The government takes decisive action to ensure future of Myanmar’s elephants
Naypyitaw (15th-16th February 2018)
The Myanmar Elephant Conservation Action Plan (known as the MECAP) was launched today at a ceremony in Nay Pyi Taw. The MECAP will guide efforts by the Government, civil society, wildlife biologists and conservationists to create the social, economic, and biological conditions that allow elephants to co-exist with humans in the same landscapes.
The purpose of the MECAP is to provide a focused elephant conservation strategy for the next 10 years (2018–2027) with the overall aim of securing viable and ecologically functional elephant populations in Myanmar for the next century and beyond. Most importantly, the MECAP also comprises detailed implementation plans with actions, targets, and monitoring and evaluation plans.
“We intend to have the MECAP fully implemented, it is our responsibility to our elephants and to the people of Myanmar” said His Excellency U Ohn Winn, Union Minister for MONREC, in the foreword to the document. “Policies and laws are just words on paper, if they are not fully implemented or complied with. We must all realize that wild elephants are ecologically, culturally, and symbolically significant for Myanmar and will continue to be so for our future generation. Time for action is short, but we owe it to history and future generations to show that we took responsibility for our elephants and other wildlife through carrying out the actions and recommendations of the MECAP”
Myanmar has large expanses of elephant habitat and an unusually strong bond between Myanmar’s elephants and its people. With less than 2000 Elephants in the wild, and over 5000 captive elephants, the future for this magnificent creature needs to be planned for as a matter of urgency.
The MECAP’s four main themes and summaries of their respective strategies are -
• Protection of Myanmar’s wild elephants and their habitat
• Mitigation of human–elephant conflict
• Combatting the illegal trade in elephants and elephant body parts including ivory in Myanmar
• Management of captive elephants and captive–wild elephant interactions in Myanmar
“As Myanmar develops, the management of our natural resources needs to be carefully managed and NWCD will use strategic documents like the MECAP to guide national and regional decision-making and ensure that conservation and development are in balance.” said Dr. Nyi Nyi Kyaw, Director General of the Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. “The conservation of our elephants is an immensely challenging task, but we consider our responsibility to succeed in this task to be a vital duty on behalf of the nation”.
“According to estimates, one of Myanmar’s elephants is killed in every week in the wild. If it continues with this momentum, Myanmar will lose its wild elephant within a few years,” said Christy Williams, Country Director of WWF-Myanmar, “The MECAP, if implemented effectively, will ensure the future of Myanmar’s elephants.”
In support to the MECAP and response to the Myanmar elephant poaching and skinning crisis, local and international organisations including WCS, WWF, Friends of Wildlife and SCBI have launched an awareness raising campaign named VOICES FOR MOMOS late last year. VOICES FOR MOMOS calls on individuals and organisations to use their voice to speak up for elephants before these noble giants are silenced forever. The campaign got huge media attention and created numbers of conversations among Myanmar people on conserving those heritage animals.
The 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), WWF, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), International Elephant Foundation (IEF), Elephant Family, Friends of Wildlife and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI).
About WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) www.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.
Swe Zin Myo Win – firstname.lastname@example.org (09795956050)
About WWF www.wwf.org.mm/en
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, 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. WWF-Myanmar opened in 2014. Its work programmes include wildlife, habitats, green economy, renewal energy, freshwater, and sustainable business.
WWF stands for the World Wide Fund for Nature (previously known as the World Wildlife Fund)
Saw Linn Htet – email@example.com
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 species 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.
Deborah Olson - firstname.lastname@example.org
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 www.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.