With their habitats disappearing due to the depleting natural forest cover, wild elephants have begun frequenting villages in Bokpyin Township and damaging crops, said local villagers.
Earlier, the township, which is located in the Kawthoung District of Taninthayi Region, was covered in forests, providing a good habitat for wild animals. But the forest cover made the area difficult to access.
Now, the authorities have upgraded the road to provide better transportation. People have also extended the premises of their homes.
Additionally, the authorities have granted permits for timber extraction. The residents are also engaging in oil palm plantations on a manageable scale, thereby resulting in deforestation and loss of habitats of wild animals.
As a consequence, wild elephants have begun entering villages, looking for food. Sometimes, they forage for food in villagers’ houses. So far, three villagers have been killed by wild elephants while they were heading home.
A group of around three to five wild elephants usually frequents the villages, according to local villagers.
“We are getting worried about wild elephants because they have begun entering villages these days. They are harming local villagers, and three people have lost their lives already.
We want the related departments and organizations to work with us to find suitable protection from the danger of wild elephants. We need to conserve the elephants as well as the forest. Now, wild elephants have lost their habitats as people have felled trees in large numbers.
So, the elephants are entering the villages. In my opinion, we should not fell so many trees and try to conserve the environment. If we fail to conserve their habitats, human-elephant conflict will become a huge issue,” said Ko Zaw Chit Oo, a local villager from Bokpyin Township.
With regard to this issue, the Bokpyin Township’s Forest Department held a workshop on wild elephant conservation and handling human-elephant conflict at the Bokpyin Township’s General Administration Department on 4 May, in collaboration with Fauna and Flora International (FFI). There are around 2,000 wild elephants in Myanmar, and human-elephant conflict is becoming a major issue.
Such conflicts are especially common in Taikkyi Township of Yangon Region, Ayeyawady region, and Rakhine State. “According to a 2001 survey, there are 100 wild elephants in Taninthayi Region. They usually inhabit the Mawthaung, Kawthoung, and Bokpyin townships.
To reduce human-elephant conflict, the related departments need to cooperate with the local villagers and other social organizations,” said Dr. Nay Myo Shwe, the FFI’s Taninthayi Region project manager. Currently, the Forest Department is conducting an awareness talk on wild elephants.—Myint Oo (Myeik)
(Translated by Hay Mar)