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Modify elephant sanctuary to attract tourists

Myanmar is planning to modify the Po-Kyar elephant sanctuary into one of the attractive tourist sites of the country to boost tourism, the local Biweekly Eleven journal reported Thursday.


The Po-kyar elephant sanctuary lies at a location in Bago division, 346 kilometers north of Yangon.


The Po-Kyar zone is accommodating 86 elephants of different ages ranging from 1 year old to 68 years old as well as various kinds of rare bird species, 100-year-old trees and wild butterflies, the report said.


Myanmar has taken measures for elephant conservation by restricting the catching of such animals in the country's Bago Yoma mountain range in the central part where most of the elephants take sanctuary.


In order to prevent elephants from extinction in the country, the Myanmar forestry authorities allowed the catching of the wild elephants in the mountain range's Hlegu area only once in three years, prescribing the ratio of the elephants caught to be handed over to the authorities, according to other local reports.


Wildlife keepers in Myanmar have also warned against the tendency of move of sanctuary of wild elephants from deep mountain ranges in western Rakhine state to agricultural fields as elephant feed was running short there last year.


Such wild elephants were being found shifting from the May Yu mountain range bordering Bangladesh to agricultural farms with crop plantations of local farmers and destroying the plantations for the sake of feed, forestry officials said, calling on the farmers to take measures to prevent the crop plantations from being spoiled out of the wildlife's move.


The officials attributed the tendency of the elephants to the extinction of bamboo plantation in the Rakhine Yoma natural bamboo forest which the elephants depend on for their feed.

Similarly, in the wake of tiger extinction threat, Myanmar wildlife police and forest rangers have also planned to step up combating wildlife trade and crimes in the tiger reserve and special training programs have been introduced jointly by the Myanmar forest ministry and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).


With only 150 tigers reportedly still alive in Myanmar's tiger reserve, tiger conservation is being undertaken in Hukaung Valley, the geographical condition of which creates a suitable place for survival of the tigers.


The Hukuang Tiger Reserve in Myanmar's northernmost Kachin state, which was established in 2004, covers an area of about 22,000 square kilometers, and is claimed to be the largest of its kind in the world.


(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2009)