In response to a need to address elephant conservation issues in Myanmar and as a prerequisite to the implementation of future elephant conservation work, ElefantAsia will organise of a series of cultural events highlighting the condition of the majestic Asian elephant in the country and an international media campaign supporting the action.
It is important and invaluable that the elephant is seen in a positive light before conservation work is under way. Elephants are a source of pride for the Myanmar people and it is of major importance to reactivate the public support for the species through actions insistent on the cultural and biological importance of the animal, and the challenges faced in their conservation in the wild and in domesticity.
Basing our action on the past success of our operations in the Lao PDR, we would like to support the organisation of an Elephant Caravan travelling to Yangon in the course of 2016 (tentatively) followed by an Elephant Festival in Yangon, the cultural capital of Myanmar.
A team of 8 elephants will walk about 300 km across the country, passing through elephant populated areas and cultural sites and disseminating both environmental education material and art performances in towns and villages with an experienced team of artists and conservationists from both Myanmar and France.
An international TV crew will accompany the Caravan to produce a film documentary for broadcasting in Myanmar and internationally. While focusing on the elephant, its role in history and culture and the challenges facing its conservation, the film will also promote the marvels of Myanmar's natural and cultural heritage. The Elephant Caravan will be the connecting link between regions populated with elephants and the cultural capital. An elephant caravan marching towards Yangon will have a highly symbolic meaning: The country's endangered elephants will walk to seek support from the Myanmar People and Authorities.
The Elephant Caravan will end its journey in Yangon where we propose to organise an Elephant Festival. About 22 elephants may participate. The Elephant Festival promises to be a generous and popular tribute to the revered Asian elephant of Myanmar.
Attractive to the public, international travellers, tour operators and international media, the concept of an Elephant Festival proved to be an original idea to highlight the fate of the Asian elephant and promote a country as a cultural tourist destination. The concept provides both a great cultural event to be perpetuated in the Burmese festive calendar while emphasizing the worthy action of protecting the country's emblematic species. It is proposed to the Myanmar authorities that we train local personnel to organise and run the festival so that it can be handed over to Myanmar Authorities after only 6 editions.
Second only to India, Myanmar is home to the largest Asian elephant population worldwide, therefore making the country a key reservoir for this endangered species.
As a living icon with important symbolic connotations and historical associations for many Asian cultures, the elephant is an animal dear to the hearts of all people in Myanmar and the region. Unfortunately, it is no exaggeration to say that the elephant, one of the defining components of Asian heritage is today under threat. Due to loss of its forest habitat, the Asian elephant is endangered in the wild. The continued wellbeing of the region's large number of domesticated elephants is also of concern, because economic and technological changes are limiting the number of elephants needed in traditional occupations.
ElefantAsia, with its cultural approach to conservation, wishes to play a key role in raising regional and international awareness of the need to protect the Asian elephant, a vital cultural and biological heritage of Myanmar. ElefantAsia will also promote cultural exchange and inter-cultural dialogue, through a shared commitment to ensure a happy future for the Asian elephant which has played such an important role in all the region's cultures throughout history.
Important and integral to the work of ElefantAsia will be the production of educational materials on Asian elephants to be disseminated to schoolchildren in Myanmar, as well as the guiding principles of training local staff in every field relating to the operation.
The media attention generated by ElefantAsia will also help to raise both awareness and funds needed to support upcoming elephant conservation actions in the country.