Melia Pro

Published on Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Khiri Helps You Reach for the 'Stars' in Myanmar

Khiri Reach, the charitable arm of Asia-based DMC Khiri Travel, is supporting a conservation effort to save the endangered Burmese Star Tortoise. Visitors to the Bagan area in central Myanmar can take a 90-minute visit to the breeding programme, wildlife sanctuary and information centre.  

Khiri Reach is helping the program by enhancing an information centre and creating factual presentation boards in English and Burmese to help educated local villagers as well as tourists. Visitors can purchase locally sourced handicrafts and mementoes. Funds raised will help sustain the tortoise breeding programme. Khiri Reach also provided funds to purchase a generator to pump fresh water to the centre and assorted animals in the Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary where the project is run.

Visitors can walk in the dry zone woodlands with rangers to see the tortoises that have been reintroduced to the wild. Microchip tracking devices have been attached to the shells of some released tortoises.

The Burmese Star Tortoise teetered on the edge of extinction around the year 2000, due to mass illegal trafficking to China. Authorities have since clamped down on the trade.

"The ultimate objective is to restore viable populations of Burmese Star Tortoises in every protected area within the dry zone of central Myanmar," said Ms Kalyar Platt, the Director of Turtle Survival Alliance Myanmar Programme.

She said the tortoises are very important as seed dispersers and grazers in dry zone forests and play a key role in nutrient cycling.

"It is important that we gain a better understanding of star tortoises and restore them as natural members of the dry zone ecosystem," she said.

At the information and breeding centre local Burmese artist Mr Htin Lynn Nyo, creates gorgeous tortoise designs that can be printed on t-shirts and fabric bags. These are sold to visitors who want to contribute to the breeding and tortoise release program.

Khiri Travel will have further information about the project - including giveaway souvenir papier-mâché tortoises - at the Khiri Travel booth (AS603) at WTM London, 6-8 November, 2017. Khiri Travel founder, Willem Niemeijer will address a panel on World Responsible Tourism Day, 8 November at WTM.

Further in-depth information about the Burmese Star Tortoise programme is available in a blog post by Ms Gili Back, the Executive Director of Khiri Reach and Khiri Travel's Sustainability Manager, here.

The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Turtle Survival Alliance support the tortoise conservation project.


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