The 1,200 or so wild elephants remaining in Myanmar, on the border of China, are in danger. They are being ruthlessly poached, but not for their ivory tusks. Many of these elusive elephants don’t even have tusks. Instead, they are being hunted and killed for their skin.
The extent of the problem was starkly revealed earlier this year when 25 dead elephants were found in the Ayeyawady delta in southwestern Myanmar. Prior to this incident, experts believe that the killing of elephants for their skin was rare.
The poachers who killed the 25 elephants appear to have been surprised, leaving behind the skins. “They hung off the skin like laundry. Some bags were confiscated with raw hides still rolled up on pieces of wood and severed elephant trunks,” said Aung Myo Chit, the Smithsonian Institution’s Myanmar county coordinator. The elephants appeared to have been killed with poison darts, causing the elephants to die a slow and painful death.
— FONDATION BRIGITTE BARDOT (@FBB_World) November 30, 2017
Nilanga Jayasinghe, a senior program officer for Asian species with the World Wildlife Fund, called the elephant massacre “an alarm call,” signaling a growing trend in poaching skins in Myanmar and neighboring nations. At least six other elephants were found skinned in nearby regions. “This could spread very quickly,” warned Jayasinghe.
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