The new Chinese online elephant skin market threatens the survival of the species in Burma, where poaching is intensifying to meet demand, environmentalists warned Tuesday. [19659002TheskinofelephantsiscrushedandusedforChinesemedicinetreatmentsorsoldtomakejewelrysaidtheBritishNGOElephantFamilyinitsstudyentitled"Ecorchés:thegrowingappetiteforAsianelephants"andpresentedinBangkokonTuesday
Unlike poaching for ivory, the skin trade makes no distinction between elephant genders and ages. All are likely to be affected.
"That means no elephants are safe, Burma is losing too many elephants too fast," said Belinda Stewart-Cox, NGO manager.
There are about 2,000 wild elephants left in this Southeast Asian country, the second largest population in the region after Thailand.
But poaching has developed very rapidly in recent years and controls are almost non-existent. Associations denounce authorities' laxity.
Last year, 59 elephant carcasses were found, compared with only four in 2010, according to government statistics cited in the report.
Most elephants, who represent one of Burma's ten endangered animal species, are killed or smuggled into Thailand where they are used for tourism.
Hunting an endangered animal is illegal in Burma, a signatory to the Convention on the international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (Cites), but the maximum fine is less than $ 60 and the proceedings are exceptional.