Image: Aung Myo Chit

Poachers are horrifically skinning elephants to sell their hides for medicinal purposes — primarily mothers and calves. 

The escalating situation in Myanmar has conservation groups scrambling to enact better methods of protection for these animals.

The demand for skins has resulted in a brutal increase in wild elephant killings. In the past few months alone, poaching numbers have greatly exceeded the yearly average in Myanmar. Targets are shot with poisonous darts and slowly suffer to death before they are skinned.

The WWF is calling the situation a state of emergency, implementing a #SaveYourSkins initiative they hope will organize efforts to help stop these killings and protect the remaining population.

Fewer than 2,000 elephants are estimated currently living in the country. While poachers have traditionally targeted tusked males with the purpose of obtaining ivory, the tables turned.

“This additional pressure on young ones and breeding females will have serious amplifications on the future survival of this species in Myanmar. This is why it is so important to put a stop to this crisis now, before Myanmar’s wild elephant populations become biologically unviable,” Global Wildlife Enforcement Specialist Rohit Singh stated to Mongabay.

The sudden increase in the demand for elephant skin is alarming on all fronts. This fad could result in the collapse of the entire population.

These issues need to be addressed with tightened law enforcement protocols and stronger initiatives to shuck down the markets for these products, while are believed to have some sort of medicinal value.

The #SaveTheirSkins campaign hopes to to combat the illegal wildlife trade by allocating more protection to the remaining wild elephants.