Field in Focus | Saving Elephants in Myanmar (Part 3)

For decades, scientists with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Conservation Ecology Center and partners have traveled to Myanmar to study Asian elephants, a species threatened by poaching, habitat loss and human-elephant conflict. Only 30,000 to 50,000 remain in the wild, scattered throughout fragmented habitats across 13 countries in Asia.

Part 3: Elephant Poaching

Research has revealed a recent and troubling rise in poaching for skin and meat, which may be the most urgent threat to Myanmar’s wild elephants. Follow the scientists and their partners as they respond to a poaching crime. WARNING: This video contains graphic images.


Researchers photograph poaching site

Smithsonian scientists and partners began investigating elephant deaths after seven of the 19 Asian elephants they had been tracking were killed. They found that the poaching problem was widespread and affected many more elephants than those being monitored with GPS collars. Here, researchers document a poached elephant discovered in the forest.


Close-up of elephant trunk

Unlike African elephants that are primarily hunted for their ivory tusks, Asian elephants are also poached for their skin and meat. This makes males, females and calves equal targets. Simultaneously removing breeding females and young from a population can drive it toward extinction.

Posted: 15 May 2019
About the Author:

The Torch relies on contributions from the entire Smithsonian community.