Rampaging elephants force Myanmar villagers to tree-top refuge

2016-01-16 12:02


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Taik Kyi - Pushed from their forest home by encroaching farm land, wild elephants are driving fearful villagers in a Myanmar township to seek refuge in tree houses while the animals storm their rice paddies looking for food.

The elephants have trampled crops, destroyed homes and even, villagers say, killed people in their path - forcing families in Kyat Chuang to build new shelters made of wood and bamboo on higher ground.

"We have had to move our huts into the trees, so we are safe," explained San Lwin, who dashes several metres up a tree to his thatch-roofed shelter when the elephants are near.

Villagers in Kyat Chaung, a farming community 100km north of Yangon, told AFP they yearned for the days before the elephant rampages started three years ago.

Now they scamper up home-made bamboo ladders to their elevated huts whenever they hear the thundering sound of elephant feet, which is usually several times a week.

"We want them to be taken away ... so we can live peacefully," said Than Shin, a 57-year-old farmer.

Spurred by the loss of their forest habitats, the elephants, and villagers they have been terrorising, are some of the casualties of Myanmar's alarming rate of deforestation, one of the fastest in the region.

The country lost almost 20% of its forest cover between 1990 and 2010, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Experts say the chief drivers of forest loss are logging and large-scale land concessions for commercial agriculture handed out under decades of opaque junta rule.

Myanmar's population of wild Asian elephants is thought to be one of the largest in the region, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

But the endangered species is increasingly threatened by habitat loss, a thirst for ivory, and traffickers who smuggle the animals into Thailand for the tourist industry.

The newly-elected National League for Democracy (NLD) - the pro-democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi that swept to a thumping majority in landmark elections in November - said on Thursday it would address Myanmar's medley of environmental issues after assuming office later this year.

"We will try to restore the environment in Myanmar that has been ruined for many decades," Soe Nyunt, vice chair of the NLD's Environmental Conservation Committee told AFP.

"It will not be easy," he added.

Read more on:    myanmar  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.