Online elephant skin trade fuels slaughter in Myanmar

PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Customers inspecting a chunk of dried elephant skin and an ivory tusk at a traditional medicine shop in Mon State, Myanmar.

An emerging online market for elephant skin in China is threatening the survival of the animals in neighbouring Myanmar as poaching intensifies to meet demand, conservationists warned yesterday.

Myanmar has watched with alarm as the number of slain elephants found in the country's forests rises each year, with many blaming the trade in the mammal's hide.

The biggest market for the products is in China, where the tough skin is ground up and used to treat stomach or human skin ailments, or sold as jewellery in the form of blood-red beads and pendants.

The items are increasingly advertised and sold on the Internet, according to the British-based charity Elephant Family.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2018, with the headline 'Online elephant skin trade fuels slaughter in Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe