Elephant skin for Chinese “medicine”? Stop the killing in Myanmar!

Poached and skinned elephant in Myanmar Elephants are being poached for skin and other body parts. (© Myanmar Government)
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It’s an evil business: Asia’s elephants are being poached for the latest Chinese quack cure: elephant-skin ointments to treat eczema, acne and digestive problems. Speak out for a ban on trade in elephant skin and other body parts!

Call to action

To: the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping; the State Counsellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi

“Stop the trade in elephant body parts. Asian elephants are being poached for their skin, which is used for Chinese “medicine” and jewelry.”

Read letter

Until recently, only male Asian elephants were in danger of being poached for ivory, as the females do not have tusks. Now, the poachers are killing every animal they can find – including females and calves. After the elephants slowly succumb to poisoned arrows, the poachers skin their prey on the spot.

More than 100 elephants are known have been poached in Myanmar since 2013 to meet Chinese demand for elephant skin – a market that didn't exist six years ago that is driven entirely by the criminal energy of southeast Asian elephant poachers.

The survival of the species is at stake if this continues.

According to a new study, the business is spreading to other countries via Myanmar and China.

A major hub of the elephant-skin trade is the lawless Burmese border town Mong La. It is also flourishing at a market near the Golden Rock, one of Myanmar’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

The elephant skin is dried, powdered and mixed with coconut oil to make an ointment that is touted as a cure for skin conditions and digestive problems. Traffickers also mix powdered elephant skin and pangolin scales. The skin is also made into jewelry, such as beaded bracelets selling for less than $100.

The criminal business is internationally organized and the authorities turn a blind eye. In Myanmar, elephant poachers face up to seven years in prison, but violations are rarely prosecuted.

China’s policymakers have acknowledged that their country plays a pivotal role in elephant poaching. China has banned the ivory trade and is closing its domestic ivory market, but that is not stopping Chinese citizens from crossing the open border to Myanmar and buying elephant products there.

Tell China and Myanmar to shut down the trade in ivory and other elephant body parts. The survival of Asian elephants depends on it!









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To: the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping; the State Counsellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi

Dear Mr. President,
Dear Madame State Counsellor,

In Myanmar, elephants are being poached at a rate that will soon threaten their very existence. Poachers are killing the animals not only for their ivory, but also their skin and other body parts.

Most buyers of dried elephant skin are Chinese. The skin is prized for its supposed medical value and for jewelry.

Mr. President, you are already taking action to shut down the ivory trade within China and internationally. Please extend your efforts to include international trade in other elephant body parts.

Madame State Counsellor, you are held in high esteem throughout the world as a moral authority. Please use your influence to help protect the Asian elephant.

Yours faithfully,