KNU Designates Over 3,000-Acre Wildlife Sanctuary in Thaton District

On July 28, a wildlife sanctuary covering more than three thousand acres in the Karen National Union (KNU) ‘s Thaton district was officially designated with the aim of preserving environmental resources and preventing large-scale development projects.

According to the Karen National Union (KNU) Forestry Department, the wildlife sanctuary known as “Htee Thoe Kee Wildlife Sanctuary,” spans a total area of 3,360 acres and is situated between KNU’s Kyaikto township and Bilin township.

In line with the KNU Forestry Department’s policy to conserve natural biological diversity, research has been conducted in the Htee Thoe Kee forest area in Thaton (Doo Tha Htu) District since 2017.

Their findings revealed abundant forests, bamboo forests, and diverse wildlife, prompting the KNU Forestry Department to officially designate it as a wildlife sanctuary. The aim of this designation is to protect endangered species facing the threat of extinction due to the scarcity of natural resources.

According to Padoh Mahn Ba Tun the head of the KNU Forestry Department, the newly designated sanctuary is the smallest one within the KNU-controlled area. Furthermore, it stands as the only sanctuary in KNU’s Thaton district.

“The larger the sanctuary, the more beneficial it is for the well-being of the animals. It is evident that this particular sanctuary stands as the smallest in the district. Unfortunately human settlements, orchards, and rubber farms have encroached upon the forested lands. As a result of this encroachment may lead to a reduction in the sanctuary’s area.

Nonetheless the significance of officially designating this sanctuary, will bring about positive outcome for the Kawthoolei area,” he said.

As per the records of the KNU Forestry Department, the largest sanctuary within the KNU controlled area is situated in Ka’Sar Doh Township, Myeik-Dawei District, covering an area of 130,000 acres. The second largest sanctuary is the Makatha Sanctuary in Dooplaya District, encompassing approximately 100,000 acres.

Padoh Mahn Ba Tun, the head of the Forestry Department, stated that the designated Htee Thoe Kee Wildlife Sanctuary has already been approved at the district level, and now needs to be submitted to the central level for approval.

To establish the sanctuary, the KNU’s Thaton District Forestry Department, along with the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN), Thaton District officials, village leaders, and local residents carried out comprehensive field research. The research highlighted the presence of rare and endangered species, including gaur, leopard, clouded leopard, and various other species. The report on Htee Thoe Kee Wildlife Sanctuary revealed the existence of 20 different wildlife species within the forest area.

Before designating the sanctuary, field inspections were carried out to assess the living conditions, livelihoods, health, education, and land and forest use of the 10 villages surrounding the area. Following the inspections, suitable places for local people to work and access food were approved to ensure their well-being and sustainable development.

According to records from the KNU Forestry Department, within the 7 districts of the Karen National Union (KNU), there are a total of 15 wildlife sanctuaries and 80 forest reserves that are managed by the department.

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