FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“We must take aggressive protective action because extensive deforestation in Myanmar due to logging has resulted in the reduction of elephants’ natural habitat," says Project Founder
Arlington, VA, March 11, 2019 – The Elephant Project, a leader in innovative wildlife protection strategies, announced today that it has entered into a formal agreement with the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to relocate elephants from high human-elephant conflict areas to safe zones around the country. Human-elephant conflict is one of the biggest contributors to elephant deaths around the world.
U Win Naing Thaw, Director of the Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division, Forest Department Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar stated upon the signing of the agreement, “We must find a long-term solution to protecting Myanmar’s critically threatened elephant population and we are optimistic that by working with The Elephant Project we will find that solution.”
The Elephant Project Founder and President Dane Waters stated, “We must take aggressive protective action because extensive deforestation in Myanmar due to historic unsustainable levels of logging has resulted in the reduction of elephants’ natural habitat. This has produced a desperate search by elephants for food in villages and an increase in deadly human-elephant conflicts. Our unprecedented joint effort will add a layer of protection for Myanmar’s elephants that doesn’t currently exist.”
As part of the agreement, the Forest Department and The Elephant Project agree to the following to collaborate on elephant relocation efforts in Myanmar:
Identify elephants that need relocation
Identify mutually agreeable areas to relocate the elephants
Agree to best practices to ensure the health and safety of the elephants during relocation
Create a timeline and cost analysis for full implementation of project
Adam Roberts, Senior Advisor to The Elephant Project stated, “We are excited about this opportunity to launch a vital collaboration with the Forest Department. Our paramount concern is for the welfare of the elephants and every precaution will be taken to ensure the safety, protection and humane care of the elephants during the relocation process.”
“This agreement is great news for Myanmar's elephants thanks to The Elephant Project’s commitment to elephant protection in our country. This will save countless elephants in Myanmar which are on the run for survival due to deforestation and poaching,” added U Win Aung, The Elephant Project’s Myanmar based Advisory Board member.
In the coming months, The Elephant Project will finalize the relocation plan with the Forest Department and begin this unprecedented effort in Myanmar.
In addition to the relocation efforts in Myanmar, The Elephant Project is also funding the building of electric fences in the country that will help keep elephants out of the crops of local villagers. This preventive measure reduces the chance that villagers, whose livelihoods are threatened by elephants searching for food, will either kill the elephants themselves or call in poachers to do it for them.
“Helping to end human-elephant conflicts in Myanmar is the first step in our long-term commitment to Myanmar’s elephants. We are extremely optimistic that The Elephant Project, working together with the Government of Myanmar, will help ensure the nation’s elephants will survive, and that our joint efforts will serve as a strong testament to what public-private partnerships can accomplish,” continued Waters.
As part of The Elephant Project’s long-term commitment to the country, we propose to establish an elephant sanctuary or a system of sanctuaries in Myanmar that would provide a fully funded model for domestic elephant protection and long-term care. To underwrite the costs of operating the sanctuary in perpetuity, The Elephant Project will develop significant residential and commercial real estate investment opportunities in the country. This development will be located adjacent to the sanctuary and permit non-intrusive viewing of elephants for “ecotourism” and “voluntourism”. This unprecedented effort will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the Myanmar economy, creating a perpetual and powerful funding source for the sanctuary established to protect the country’s elephant population. It is a win for the government, donors, the Burmese people, and most importantly the elephants.”