Elephant capture Endangers the species to extinction
Maungdaw, 21 February: A wild elephant capture drive has been
conducted for some time along the Burma Bangladesh
common border, according to our correspondent from the border areas.
The ‘Wild Elephant Capturing through Anaesthesia’ Team from Sandoway under the
Burmese State Forest Department has sponsored the wild elephant catching drive
beginning January 21. Led by Veterinary doctors, U Thaung Lwin and U
Maung Maung Htin, the team has been carrying out their campaign under the
direction of Major Gen. Saw Htwe, the Maungdaw
Buthidaung District Council Chairman.
On 18 February the team fired an anaesthetic shot and captured a five-and-half
foot high cow elephant, aged about five years near Taungbro village opposite Gundum
Village on Bangladesh
side. The accompanying bull elephant fled the spot as it saw the danger
while roaming with the captured cow in the forests. Meanwhile there are
reports of groups of elephants crossing the border to Bangladesh,
according to eyewitnesses in the area.
The anaesthesia team have been hunting elephants with
tusks, according to another eyewitness. People in the area demand that, the
elephant captors are accompanied by ivory traders from the frontier areas
bordering with China.
The neighbourhood in which the elephants are hunted is in the Mayu
Ranges in the Buthidaung Maungdaw
region close to the south-eastern part of Bangladesh.
As the Mayu Ranges
are situated on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal and
there are green virgin forests there the region has been serving as a happy
pasture for the elephants since time immemorial. With the intrusion of
the Burmese junta sponsored elephant-captors, the last expanse of green forests
as safe havens for the wild elephants has been seriously affected.
Depleting forests and greenery in Bangladesh
and India (up
to the Assam Hills) have forced the wild elephants to take long journeys to the
area. Environmentalists in Bangladesh
have been watching with rising concern at the sudden increase in intrusion of
wild elephants into the Chittagong Hills and adjacent areas, obviously
migrating in large herds from across the border, for search of food. As
the food in the wilderness grows scarce every year, the elephants have been
forced to come to human habitats and paddy fields. Last year there were
at least four reported human casualties from the attacks of wild elephants in
The environmentalists have shown growing concern at the alarming increase in
wild elephants straying into the human habitats in Bangladesh
besides reports of wild elephants being killed from landmine blasts while
crossing the border. The Burmese army has been laying landmines along its
border with Bangladesh.
To all charges of landmine laying the Burmese junta have so far categorically
made denials and demanded that the insurgent groups along the common border
have been resorting to landmine laying, said a journalist in the Bangladesh
press. With increase in the wild elephant casualties the
environmentalists also expressed concern over the survival of the species,
already endangered to near extinction.
Last year two white elephants were caught in the same Mayu
Ranges, which were later
transported to Rangoon. The
officials and privates engaged in capturing the white elephants have been
promoted in rank, which has clearly encouraged the security forces in the area
to go for frenetic chase for more elephant captures, said a retired army
officer. This has substantially caused disturbance in the local elephant
population, threatening the species into extinction, he concluded. #