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August 05, 2020

Adopt zero tolerance approach towards poaching and wildlife trade to save the tigers

By Nat Ye Hla

Myanmar is one of the 13 countries where tigers can be found, which is a matter of pride for the nation. About 7 per cent of Myanmar’s total area, or over 12 million acres, serves as a habitat for at least 22 tigers.
Each tiger brings pride and dignity to Myanmar. There are two tiger species in the country: Indian (or Bengal) tigers, and Indo-China tigers. The Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary serves as a natural habitat for Indian (or Bengal) tigers.
A team comprising of researchers from the Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS-SEABRI) and the Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation of Myanmar made a joint field biodiversity survey in northern Myanmar, according to news reports of the CGTN.
The team captured footage of Bengal tigers for the first time since the joint scientific endeavour began five years ago. The report said the scientists also took pictures of large predators like black bears and sun bears, as well as large-and medium-sized mammals including Asian elephants, red deer, and Indian bisons.
Findings of the survey confirmed the Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary to be one of the few habitats in Southeast Asia that are home to a large number of big cats.
Now, tigers can be spotted in the northern and upper Chindwin area and the Taninthayi mountain range in southern Myanmar.
Myanmar, which has a rich variety of habitats and ecosystems, including 14 terrestrial eco-regions supporting 233 globally threatened species, has seen more cases involving the trade of elephant parts than other wildlife.
During the survey, collected more than 3,300 specimens of plants and animals during the month-long project in the Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary in Myanmar’s Sagaing Region.

The photo released by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MNREC) at the World Tiger Day in Nay Pyi Taw last year. Photo: Supplied
The photo released by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MNREC) at the World Tiger Day in Nay Pyi Taw last year. Photo: Supplied

The survey, together with eight previous similar field expeditions, has led to the discovery of a total of 53 new species.
The data collected during the survey are valuable references for biodiversity conservation in Myanmar.
At least 22 tigers remain in Myanmar, according a recent survey. The survey covered 8 percent of the tiger habitat in the country.
In accordance with the Conservation of Biodiversity and Protected Areas Law promulgated in May 2018, tigers, along with elephants, leopards and Eld’s deer, were included in the list of totally protected species.
Within the 20-year period from 1994 to 2014, the country has lost millions of tons of hardwood due to illegal logging, as well as rare wildlife, such as elephants, bears, tigers, leopards, peacocks, and snakes, on account of poaching.
To save the tigers, we need to adopt a zero tolerance approach towards poaching and wildlife trade — a multi-million dollar industry fuelled by the demand for meat, skin, medicines, and other tiger products.. The number of valuable species in the country is witnessing a rapid decline. If this downward trend continues unchecked, some of our iconic national treasures — elephants, tigers, bears, pangolins, and birds — will become extinct.

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