Elephant poaching is currently happening at an alarming rate across SE Asia due to high demands for elephant skin in the wildlife markets. The elephant skin is used for producing specialized jewellery in SE Asia and China. The elephant skin is polished, and dyed; and processed into red colored beaded necklaces and bracelets fetching high prices in illegal international wildlife markets. The profit being very high is encouraging highly organized poaching groups operating in SE Asia to wipe out Asiatic wild elephant populations with special emphasis to Myanmar due to close proximity to the Chinese border. The ever increasing demand for poached skins of wild Asiatic elephant is therefore putting heavy hunting pressure on their wild populations in several pockets of SE Asia. Several carcasses of Asiatic elephants have been detected across SE Asian forests with skins being harvested with professional precision alarming the local conservation authorities. The bad news for many adjoining South Asian nations like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India with significant wild populations of Asiatic elephants is that they may be the next target of professional poaching units operating in the region. The South Asian nations should be extremely cautious of the ground situations and take appropriate measures to protect their wild elephant populations. The massacre of helpless wild Asiatic elephants for skin harvest may soon reach their shores and wipe out local wild populations resident within these countries or migrating across international borders unless concrete steps are being planned and executed right now. A Joint Conservation Initiative (JCI) for wild Asiatic elephants among South Asian nations may help adjacent countries in better tackling this new onslaught on local and indigenous wildlife better.
Saikat Kumar Basu,