By Saw Yan Naing, Lawi Weng
From Mile 58 on the newly built Rangoon-Naypyidaw highway, Myint Wai walks about four miles into a jungle, through the Pegu mountain range.
He is returning to the site where he recently discovered skeletons of several dead elephants, and he talks along the way about the hunters who killed them, hoping to trade their skins and valuable tusks.
“More than 20 wild elephants were killed by hunters [this year\,” he tells The Irrawaddy. “These hunters have been slaughtering wild elephants since 2010. I estimate that several dozens of elephants have been killed so far. And there are many places I can’t reach.”
Myint Wai, a local resident in Pegu Division, northeast of Rangoon, points to a homemade map of the mountain range, identifying sites where he found the dead carcasses most recently. Some sites are deep in the jungle, he says, adding that he walked for several days to get there.
One of the closest sites lies two hours from the highway, over a rough walking path and across small muddy streams filled with leeches. When Myint Wai reached the location, he gestured toward the skeletons and explained that a group of local hunters from Baw Ni village, in Pegu Division’s Daik-U Township, were responsible.
The skeletons of one elephant were hidden under bamboo brush. More....