Sixteen wildlife sanctuaries and five national parks were established in Myanmar (Burma) in 1981. In this area of the world a count of Corbett's (the Indo-Chinese) tiger has not been carried out for over seventeen years. Back then, the subspecies was most abundant in Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park.
At 1,605 square kilometres in size this park is Myanmar's
largest. It is named after Buddha?s saintly disciple and a
shrine to him is in the park boundaries. The shrine depicts
a reclining figure called Kathapa and it is believed his remains
lie here. A small group of
monks care for the shrine and have joined forces with authorities to educate
visitors about conservation and wildlife. Though visiting the
park is a challenge (it can only be reached on elephant back)
over 30,000 pilgrims visit annually.
Other animal species in Alaungdaw Kathapa include wild pig, gaur, sambar, (all three are favourite meals for the tiger), banteng, muntjak, clouded leopards, civets, jungle cats, Himalayan sun bears, black giant squirrels, hog badgers, monitor lizards, macques, and many types of bird. The elephant roam in groups of up to a dozen; 150-200 live in the area.
Anti-poaching patrols consist of 25 officers who tackle the rugged terrain on foot, horseback, or elephant. Lack of basic radio communication greatly increases the difficulties they face. Poachers employ locals to assist in animal tracking and are well aware the likelihood of capture is slim. Because poaching usually involves spending some days within the park, the anti-poaching squads concentrate their searches on the location of camping sites. From these they can often track down poachers, either arresting them or engaging them in a fight. The arming of park officers is currently underway.
With Thanks To John White (Photo 1)