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Protecting the Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Myanmar
Target species for conservation:
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The Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary was created in 2004 and then massively expanded in 2010 to create one of the largest protected areas in tropical Asia, over 17,400 square kilometers (6,700 square miles). The protected area is located in the northwestern corner of Myanmar and covers most of the headwaters of the Chindwin River, a major tributary to the larger Irrawaddy River. The Hukaung Valley is broad and in a regional context the area is unique in the size of the largely untamed floodplain that remains. It is surrounded on the north, west and east by high mountain ranges, ascending to almost 4,000 meters (13,000 feet).
The valley continues to support a complete assemblage of forest mammals including tiger, and six other species of cat, dhole, Asian elephant, gaur, sambar and hog deer, Chinese and red serow, sun and Asian black bear. The surrounding ridges still support takin, red panda and the recently described leaf muntjac. In addition the area is a poorly understood overlap zone for primates such as Eastern hoolock gibbon, Western hoolock gibbon, capped leaf monkey and Shortridge’s leaf monkeys. The area is home to over 400 bird species including populations of several globally threatened species most notably the very endangered white-bellied heron, white-rumped vulture and slender-billed vulture; and also lesser fish eagle, green peafowl, white-winged duck, masked finfoot, as well as a series of large water birds including five species of stork and spot-billed pelican.
Starting in 1999 the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Myanmar Program has developed an expanding program to conserve the amazing wildlife and other resources of the Hukaung Valley:
- Improving the capacity of the Myanmar Forest Department to manage the area as a protected area with a foundation built on law enforcement and patrolling
- Implementing monitoring programs for wild and domestic Asian elephant, tigers, white-bellied heron and vultures
- Managing a mobile education unit that regularly conducts village and school programs across the valley to raise local awareness of the global importance of the area’s wildlife and how local people can work with the sanctuary to achieve conservation objectives
- Running a village-based resource management programme where important forest resources are inventoried and then managed by local communities for local use.
Funds from the EAZA IUCN/SSC Southeast Asia Campaign will be used to support basic operation costs in the Hukaung Valley such as fuel, rations and basic equipment for patrolling and monitoring teams.