Army Accused of Killing Elephants, Selling Ivory
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Army Accused of Killing Elephants, Selling Ivory


By BA SAW TIN Monday, March 8, 2010


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Burmese army units from Butheetaung and Maungdaw townships in Arakan State are reportedly   capturing and killing wild elephants and illegally exporting ivory to China, according to an Arakan environmental and human rights organization.

The rounding up of wild elephants is occurring in conjunction with a search for a white elephant, say environmentalists.

Khaing Htun Lin of the Bangladesh-based Arakan Environment Preservation and Human Rights Watch told The Irrawaddy that Capt Aung Thura Heing of Light Infantry Battalion (354), Captain Hein Khant of Infantry Battalion (263) and Pe Than of the Butheetaung 5 Mile Elephant Camp have worked on the project, which began in January.

“As far as we know, more than 10 wild elephants have been captured since the beginning of this year,” said Khaing Htun Lin. “We estimate that at least 500 elephants has been caught this decade. The army cuts ivory from some elephants and, together with businessmen, it is exported to China.”

Sonny, a trader in the Arakan border area, said a kilogram of elephant ivory is worth 1,500,000 kyat (US $1,538) in market price.

“Elephant ivory is very expensive,” Sonny said. “The older the elephant the more expensive the ivory will be.”

This is the second white elephant search project. The first was in 2001.

Aung Marm Oo, the director of the Thailand-based Arakan Rivers Network (ARN), said: “The military regime has been catching elephants in Arakan State for long time, especially in the Butheetaung, Maungtaw and Yathetaung regions. It is worse now because the regime asked the army to catch elephants under the name of this white elephant search project. We don't believe the army has found any white elephants, but we are certain that it has captured wild elephants, slaughtered them and sold ivory.”

In 2004, the regime captured a white elephant from Mayu mountain in Yathetaung Township and then Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt, who is now under house arrest, built a garden on Min Dhamma hill in Insein Township in Rangoon where it was kept in a compound. 

According to tradition, ancient Burmese kings believed they would become more powerful if they possessed a white elephant.

Khin Maung Kyi, an NGO worker based in Maungtaw, said two soldiers, a sergeant and a private, died after an elephant ran over them. A guide also died last week after he stepped on a land mine, he said.

“The news of the death of the sergeant and private is well-known in our area. People whispered the news,” said Khin Maung Kyi.

Environmentalists are concerned that elephants in Arakan State are in danger of extinction from hunting and also an exodus of elephants from Arakan to Bangladesh.

Khaing Duwon, the director of Thailand's Chiang Mai-based Network for Environment and Economic Development (NEED), said the capture and slaughter of wild animals could eventually damage the environment.

“Elephants particularly graze in Mayu mountain in Yathetaung,” he said. “They don't like heat so they often look for thick forests and places where they can breath air from the sea. Hunting elephants for personal interest has become a business so there is a risk of elephants in Arakan State disappearing. Forests there are also becoming drier after being cut continuously by the army.

“People know that every year catastrophes occur in the world just because they don't pay attention to and preserve the environment. The same situation happens in Burma, where we are faced with Cyclone Nargis and other natural disasters every year. We must be more careful about the environment.”

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plan B Wrote:
15/03/2010
"The rounding up of wild elephants is occurring in conjunction with a search for a white elephant, say environmentalists."
This is an intolerable example.
The "West Voyeur" tinged prejudice against the SPDC and the ignorance it chose to view Myanmar will immediately disregard the seriousness of SPDC knavery and become accepting of the Banana Republic approach to the Myanmar citizens' plight ofthe past two decades.


Janine Boguslawski Wrote:
10/03/2010
It is sad these men kill these highly intelligent beings out of greed. They should think of the environment.What will they do when they kill the last elephant?

Yangontha Wrote:
09/03/2010
I hope, one day, some people or some wild animals can cut the noses of Thura Heing, Hein Khant, Pe Than and their gang at Butheetaung and Maungdaw townships !!

Kyaw Wrote:
09/03/2010
No need to keep the hungry troops who are eating up the natural resources of the country and ruining the dignity of the peoples without limit. Regime must learn from Hunsen of Cambodia who rested tens of thousands of soldiers and converted them to the ordinary agriculture production forces of the Country.
We do not need much soldiers in this country. These troops are built based on the morality to dominate the minority states and unfounded fear of the disintegration of the Union. Keep the states under their regional security forces under the supervision and monitoring of the center Government, Burma need only sizable troops. For the National Security, Burma has no way to be able to compete India and China, so, building up the diplomatic skills and working with UN is more important than to build up the troops and arms. Look at Lao and Cambodia, may you have mature morality and brain to learn them.

Sunflower Wrote:
08/03/2010
Why do people need ivory anyway?
Chinese and their stupid pretentiousness to impress their friends with useless shit!
KARMA

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