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Animals and Plants in Myanmar

From tropical coral reefs to Himalayan glaciers; the country’s diverse geography provides vast habitats for a species-rich animal life: colourful bird species, wild elephants, tigers, leopards, Himalayan bears, deer, gibbons and other primates, exotic fish, sea turtles and even crocodiles. Working animals used in agriculture include water buffalos, elephants and zebus.

Myanmar’s flora and fauna boasts over 850 species of orchids, poinsettia the height of trees, and luscious hibiscus bushes. One of the most common flowering trees in Myanmar is the Frangipani tree. Myanmar is also known for its widespread natural teak forests. The country is still 40% rainforest, parts of which remain unexplored to this day. Huge areas of Myanmar are protected as National Parks.

For centuries the majority of the population of Myanmar has used traditional medicines . Fresh or dried indigenous  healing plants are used in treatment along with parts of insects, reptiles, and mammals. It is however not only the ingredients which are important, but also the knowledge accumulated over centuries of the interworking of these ingredients which lead to their effectiveness. The Ministry of Health is therefore interested in the conservation of healing plants through cultivation in national parks (for example Popa Mountain Park).

The Sesayas of Myanmar (healers)  are, in spite of the acceptance of western medicine, widely present and in remote areas of the country represent the only medical services for the population. Here the Ministry of Health is also attempting to create official recognition of the approximately 16.000 healers with the Indigenous Medical Practitioner’s Act .

A small compendium of “Plants of Myanmar”  is published by the Ministry of Health:  http://botany.si.edu/myanmar/

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