Myanmar’s marine ‘Lost World’ braces for tourism
- In Mergui archipelago in southern Myanmar, Moken people are losing their habitat. This is due to onslaught by outsiders like fishermen, poachers and loggers, followed by developers & high-end tourists from outside.
- These islands harbor world’s important forms of marine biodiversity.
- They are called as ‘sea gypsies’ & they used to spend considerable time in their kabang-houseboats.
- The island are awash with trash and signs of the alcoholism that has consumed many Moken lives, prone to eventually sharing same fate with their neighbor Thailand who became exotic photo opportunities near highly developed tourist areas.
- The military rulers until 1996 had kept the archipelago isolated & out of bounds to foreign visitors.
- Although a civilian government took over in 2011, these is no management plans or restrictions for tourism or environment and no blueprint of Mokens, (the soul of the archipelago).
- Mokens, who hunted and worshiped spirits are searching jobs in the main land and work as labor in mines & their “kabangs”are used as museum pieces.
- Only about 2000 Mokens remain now, their numbers dwindled due to migration, intermarriage with Burmese, death of males due to alcoholism & drug abuse.
- Myanmar’s Minister of Hotels and Tourism said their priority is to protect the environment from unethical practices.
- Mergui archipelago
- Indigenous Populations