Sagaing region struggles to launch wildlife tourism project amid scarce funds


U Than Htay, a member of the Regional Tourism Development Committee, said Sagaing is home to the second largest protected area in the country and is home to two famous wildlife sanctuaries – Mahamyaing and Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuaries.

The regional government has identified a total of eight possible areas for ecotourism, including the two famous sanctuaries, but the development of these places into tourist areas has been slow due to lack of budget, said U Than Htay, who is also an assistant to Sagaing Chief Minister U Myint Naing.

“For example, at Chattin Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a natural deer habitat, we started inviting tourists eight months ago. We created the deer viewing area in this sanctuary and renovated the museum, and built the entrance road with a budget of K50 million, ”U Than Htay told the Myanmar Times.

But U Than Thya said a lot more work needs to be done for the shrine in order to accommodate more tourists.

He said poor management of the sanctuary’s wildlife areas has led to deforestation and these require intensive rehabilitation. There is also a need to hire armed security guards to protect forests from heavily armed illegal loggers and hunters.

“The infrastructure for tourism is obviously necessary,” he added, adding that there is no special budget for environmental conservation, which makes it difficult to implement the program. animal tourism.

Earlier last week, regional officials visited the Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary to identify new tourist areas and places where the forest reserve is not damaged, and convert them into tourist spots.

Officials have noted a potential for tourists traveling on a stream to view the various wildlife species living in the area, but the government should invest in “noise-free” motorboats so as not to scare deer, birds and other animals. .

U Soe Lwin, chief auditor of the Sagaing region, said it would take at least two more years to implement the tourism project, as the regional government faces many challenges in promoting animal tourism.

U Thaung Naing Oo, a tour guide, said wildlife tourism can provide sustainable livelihoods for people living near forests.

“Many villagers can benefit from the wildlife tourism program if it grows,” he said.

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