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Tracking Silver Moon

Where in the World Is Silver Moon?

Silver Moon and her herd live in Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park in Myanmar.

Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park covers 1,581 square kilometers (610 square miles), with a buffer zone of 1,191 square kilometers (460 square miles). It has 120 staff members and an annual budget of less than $13,000. Park management is a complex and challenging enterprise. Staff and money limitations make it very difficult to manage such a large area.

Forty-one villages are located around the park and many villagers regularly enter the park to extract forest products. Before 1980, Chin and Lisu people cooperated with local Myanmar people to hunt large- and medium-size mammals in the area now designated as park land. They used guns and snares to catch tigers, and killed elephants with homemade guns, which are still readily available from gunsmiths in the region.

After 1980, park authorities successfully controlled snaring, but poachers still roam the park in small groups to hunt large mammals with dogs and guns. Minor forest products such as orchids, wood, herbs, mushrooms, and fish are also collected, the latter using pesticides. As many as 10,000 pilgrims participate in the Alaungdaw Kathapa festival each March at three monasteries in the south-central region of the park during the festival season. Staff members believe their presence creates a certain degree of disturbance to local wildlife, but the extent of the disturbance has not be scientifically verified.

world map showing Myanmar

map showing Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park in Myanmar