A Wild Escapade In Myanmar
By Amrita Kundu
Myanmar is a haven for wildlife lovers. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, 48.3% of the country is completely forested, out of which 10% are primary forests with exth ensive biodiversity and carbon density. The World Conservation Monitoring Centre estimates that Myanmar’s forests have around 1709 known species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. The forests also have 7000 species of plants out of which 15% are endemic.
The country is home to some very intense wildlife sanctuaries, thanks to the dense concentration of flora and fauna found here. Travellers looking for a wildlife escape have a range of options to choose from.
Indawgyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary
This is the most famous wildlife sanctuary in the country, being a part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The sanctuary is located on the banks of the Indawgyi Lake, the largest inland water lake of Southeast Asia, located in. Kachin State. The forest has extensive varieties of animals including leopard, bear, wild elephant, gibbon, golden jackal and wild boar. It is also a bird watcher’s paradise. One can spot rare species such as greylag goose, northern shoveler, tufted duck, common crane and the brown-headed gull.
Mainma Hla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary
This ASEAN Heritage is renowned for its thick mangroves, bird and crocodile watching. The sanctuary is located in the Bogalay Township of Ayeyarwady Delta Region, in Southern Myanmar. The sanctuary was established in 1993 and takes about 6 hours to reach by road, and 4 hours to reach by boat. Tourists are not required to take any permits for visiting this sanctuary; however, they need to register at the sanctuary’s headquarters before visiting. The staff there will arrange boat trips and accompany tourists around the park to guide you to the best viewing spots. The protected area of the sanctuary has 29 mangrove tree species, migratory waterbirds and saltwater crocodiles.
Moe Yun Gyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary
Located between the Bago township and the Waw township, this sanctuary is about a 2-hours drive away from Yangon, and is a paradise for bird watchers. It was established in 1988 and used to be a resevoir before naturally shifting to a wetland. It is home to 42 water bird species and 33 shorebird species. There are more than 20 species of aquatic grass and herb here as well. Tourists can bird-watch by boat and explore the wetland, or have a casual picnic by the shores while drinking Myanmar beer. The sanctuary also provides cosy bungalows for an overnight escape to the wild, where one can enjoy a few days of tranquillity.
Hlawga Wildlife Park
This national park is located north of Yangon and can be easily accessed in the city. The park extends across 818-acres of land and is blessed with a variety of animals such as several types of deer, rhesus monkey, pythons, pangolin, monitor lizards, cobra and krait. The park also has an abundance of birds such as jungle fowl, whistling duck, Asian openbill stork and red-vented bulbul. Most travellers plan a day trip to Hlawga Wildlife Park when they visit Yangon.
Even though it is based in the city, Hlawga Wildlife Park is not completely modernised and has an authentic touch in its environment. Tourists can feed the animals, particularly the large hippopotamus being a popular visitation.
The people of Myanmar are conscious about their natural reserves and take every precaution to ensure it is preserved to its best. The government as well as the local people use sustainable efforts to ensure that neither the forest nor the wildlife is disturbed in any way and contribute to travellers enjoying the country’s peaceful nature.