Myanmar conglomerates enter fight against illegal wildlife trade

The skinned carcass of an elephant discovered near the spot where poachers were found curing elephant skin in August 2017. Photo: MOI
The skinned carcass of an elephant discovered near the spot where poachers were found curing elephant skin in August 2017. Photo: MOI

Two of Myanmar’s largest business conglomerates have announced plans for a series of programs to the fight against elephant poaching and the illegal wildlife trade in the country.

The KBZ Group of Companies and the Shwe Taung Group have joined with the elephant conservation organization Voices for Momos to launch an awareness campaign at Mon State’s Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, also known as Golden Rock, which is a popular pilgrimage site and a hotspot for illegal wildlife trading.

The campaign at Kyaiktiyo Pagoda includes printed, digital, and audio messages against buying illegal wildlife products. Many of the messages are posted in the site’s newly launched cable car system.

KBZ Group will also disseminate Voices for Momos messaging through its digital and broadcast channels, billboards, and ATM network.

“KBZ Group believes all corporations should take a leading role and develop forward-looking practices that take care of our planet and all living creatures. Working hand-in-hand with communities and different sectors, companies can set their business goals and integrate environmental considerations that help bring a positive impact to the planet,” said Daw Nang Lang Kham, executive director of KBZ Group.

Shwe Taung Group plans to host a series of Voices for Momos events at two of its retail properties – Junction Square and Junction City. It will screen a campaign video at its cinemas over the coming weeks.

“Sustainability is at the core of Shwe Taung’s strategy. We actively engage in practices that meet the wider social, environmental, and economic needs of our society. Environmental conservation is at the heart of these initiatives, and protecting our iconic elephants is of paramount importance,” said Dr. Sandar Htun, CEO of Shwe Taung Real Estate.

“Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the whole community to end the sale of elephant and other illegal wildlife products in Myanmar. Today, we’re delighted to announce that two of the largest corporations in Myanmar have raised their powerful voices to save Myanmar’s momos,” said Christy Williams, director of WWF-Myanmar in response to the companies’ announcements.

Voices for Momos gets its name from Momo – a 64-year-old elephant who lives at the Yangon Zoological Garden. The group was founded on November 1, when Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) announced that 30 wild elephants were killed in Myanmar in the first eight months of 2017, up from 18 throughout the entirety of 2016.

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