PR: World Wildlife Day 2017: Survey of uncharted Myanmar region finds Southeast Asia’s last great wilderness | WWF

PR: World Wildlife Day 2017: Survey of uncharted Myanmar region finds Southeast Asia’s last great wilderness

Posted on 03 March 2017
An Asian elephant captured by a camera trap in Northern Karen State of Myanmar
Yangon, Myanmar (3 March) - The Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative (KWCI), with financial support from WWF and other partners, have conducted six camera traps surveys in the hill forests of Northern Karen State, Myanmar, previously inaccessible to biologists and conservationists for security and political reasons.  The surveys found at least 31 mammals including tigers, leopards and Asian Elephants. 17 of the 31 are categorised as Near Threatened, Vulnerable or Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

“It is incredibly rare to find such rich and diverse wildlife anywhere in the world today but certainly in Southeast Asia,”  said Clare Campbell, Director of Wildlife Asia, the Australian conservation NGO that coordinates the KWCI. “Thanks to the long-standing conservation efforts of the Karen people this area is a refuge for the last tigers in the region, Asian elephants and so much more.”

 “Karen people have intricate knowledge of their forests and wildlife which is directly responsible for the abundant wildlife in this region,” said Saw Sha Bwe Moo, technical field expert for KWCI and lead author of the survey. “However, as the peace process brings rapid economic development to Myanmar we are seeing increased habitat destruction and wildlife poaching that has decimated much of the wilderness in other parts of Southeast Asia. We must act now if we are to protect this last great wilderness.”

According to the FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment, 2015, Myanmar had the world’s third-highest annual net loss of forest area between 2010–2015, behind only Brazil and Indonesia.

Poaching in the region, driven by the multi-billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade, is also at critical levels. During the survey, multiple groups of poachers were caught on camera traps.

 “The illegal wildlife trade is rapidly emptying Myanmar’s forests and proximity to the infamous Golden Triangle Region makes it particularly vulnerable,” said Nick Cox, WWF-Myanmar Conservation Director. “The illegal wildlife markets in Myanmar’s cities and along all its borders must be closed, and well-trained rangers are needed on the ground if Myanmar is to keep its incredible wildlife.”

The survey was carried out in four areas of Karen State from December 2014-–July 2015. Other important species found included Asiatic golden cat, sun bear, and dhole.

For full survey see article published in Oryx Journal First structured camera-trap surveys in Karen State, Myanmar, reveal high diversity of globally threatened mammals (*1)

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Notes to Editor

*1   Moo, S.S.B., G.Z.L. Froese, and T.N.E. Gray. 2017. First structured camera-trap surveys in Karen State, Myanmar, reveal the high diversity of globally threatened mammals. Oryx pp. 1–7. doi:10.1017/S0030605316001113.
Camera trap images from the survey can be found here. Copyright: KWCI. Only for use in connection with this media release.  

Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative (KWCI) is a collaboration between the Karen Forestry Department and the Civil Society Organisation KESAN ( and the Australian based conservation NGO Wildlife Asia (

Golden Triangle: border regions between Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and China where the illegal trade of all forms thrives.  


WWF: one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF-Myanmar opened in 2014. Its work programmes include wildlife, habitats, green economy, renewable energy, and sustainable business. To learn more about WWF’s activities, please visit us at
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS): established in 1909, by an Edinburgh lawyer Thomas Gillespie, the RZSS has been working to promote the awareness and conservation of rare and endangered animals for over 100 years.
Southeast Asia Campaign (2011-2013): run by European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) & the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) to:
  • Raise awareness in the European public, European institutions and European business community of the amazing, yet threatened, animal species of Southeast Asia;
  • Create a fund for South-east Asian species conservation projects
  • Assist in reducing trade and hunting of South-east Asian species at risk;
  • Influence European consumer behaviour, demonstrating how this can positively impact on conservation issues.
Elephant Family Elephant Family: a small dynamic NGO on a mission to save a forgotten species from extinction. We look out for both elephants and human families, funding pioneering solutions such as elephant corridors. We work through a network of first class conservation partners, empowering local experts rather than imposing Western ideas on operations.

Balcombe Charitable Trust: a trust providing grants to charitable organisations in the UK supporting projects in the fields of education, the environment and health and welfare.
An Asian elephant captured by a camera trap in Northern Karen State of Myanmar
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