Voices for Wildlife Festival in Yangon to celebrate the wildlife sales ban in Myanmar

05 November 2018

The Voices for Wildlife Festival, aiming to celebrate the region-wide ban on wildlife sales in Myanmar took place at Mahabandoola Park in Yangon on Friday evening.                                                                                                                                     

The park was filled with massive crowd of spectators coming to enjoy activities and performances including a stunning new installation by Myanmar artist Arker Kyaw; Performances by over a dozen stars and a wide range of wildlife-themed activities for the family.

The Voices for Wildlife coalition in partnership with the British Embassy Yangon are presenting the Voices for Wildlife Festival in Myanmar.

Mr. Christy William, country director of The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Myanmar) said, “When you kill wild animals, it’s not just wild animal disappearing. It’s also an economic crime because wildlife tourism is the fastest growing segment of tourism. You can also create the hundreds of thousands of jobs that Myanmar need from that.”

Voices for Wildlife Festival comes a year after the launch of the VOICES FOR MOMOS campaign that united government, NGOs, corporates, and celebrities to call for an end to wildlife sales following the dramatic rise in elephant poaching and skinning. Globally, the wildlife trafficking market is estimated to be worth USD 20 billion per year.

Off one of the major organizing partners, Ms. Claire Kirkham, Head of Economics and Prosperity of British Embassy Yangon said, “Myanmar government has done really great things over the last six months. There’s a new wildlife law, which increases the protection of wildlife and also the Yangon ban, celebrating the ban of wildlife sales. The government have also banned a lot of wildlife and ivory parts. Going forward, I think they can focus on enforcement.”

The Regional Government of Yangon announced the ban in September 2018, making it the first major city in Southeast Asia to move towards becoming illegal wildlife trade free.

Effective immediately, every district and township were to cease all wildlife sales. Anyone caught selling or carrying illegal wildlife products including bush meat will face enforcement under the new Protection of Biodiversity and Protected Areas Law, which includes a mandatory prison sentence for poaching or trade of completely protected Species or species protected under CITES.

Ko Aung Myint Myat, one of Myanmar’s actors who came to support the campaign said, “What I would like to say is that not just a couple animals lose their lives to give you the hand bag or the coat made from wild animal…. Many are killed to produce the products you are using. So we need to be aware of that. These days, people can see the tiger or the wild animals only on phone device… they are getting rare outside and some went already extinct. So by organizing this kind of event and having the famous people to support this, more people will be aware of this issue.”

Festival-goers enjoyed an electrifying line up musical and dance performances; as well as caught the premiere screening of Zarchi Damloup’s short film ”Bo Bo and M0 M0”, which portrays the love between a boy name Bo Bo and a young elephant, and the Voices for Wildlife music video. Throughout the day, visitors also painted and played in the mixed media art zone, purchased wildlife-friendly crafts & souvenirs for sale, enjoyed plastic-free snacks, and was up close with tigers through an immersive virtual reality experience.

As a tribute to Myanmar’s natural heritage, street artist Arker Kyaw, in collaboration with bamboo sculptor U Myint, showcased three giant sculptures of elephant, pangolin, and tiger covered in more than 27,600 pieces of gold leaf.

Arker Kyaw