Animal Law in Myanmar

March 17, 2021Lu Shegay

Introduction

Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia bordering China, India, Bangladesh, Laos, and Thailand, and having access to the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Myanmar has a rich biodiversity with 314 mammals, 1131 birds, 293 reptiles, and 139 amphibians. There are also some of the largest intact ecosystems among the countries of Southeast Asia, however, the current conditions of the ecosystem are threatened due to land-use intensification and overexploitation.


Because of climate change, Myanmar is mostly affected by this factor and is predicted to have serious changes in the development of economic and environmental sectors. Due to this factor, Myanmar expressed interest in combating climate change by expanding the use of renewable energy and lowering the level of carbon emissions. This is an important factor that can affect the habitat of lots of animals, thus, their population as well.


In Myanmar, animals are not legally recognized as sentient beings, however, the Animal Health and Development Law of 1993 mentions that animals can suffer.


Cruelty to animals

First, there was the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that was enacted in 1930 but later repealed by the government. The Animal Health and Development Law that was adopted three years later, provides the basic regulations with regard to protecting animals against suffering, including deliberate and negligent acts or failure to act. Article 25 penalizes any act that causes animals to work in a cruel way, maltreating way, “unnecessarily maiming, wilfully keeping without food and water, neglecting to give proper treatment and care when sick or wounded, or letting to stray in a public place when diseased or wounded.” This Law applies to all domestic animals bred by humans or kept in captivity for certain purposes.


Farmed animals

The Law contains the provisions with regard to farm animal health, such as disease prevention and feed quality in terms of ensuring the quality of agricultural products for the market. The anti-cruelty article (Article 25) is applied to farmed animals, however, does not provide any details regarding slaughtering, rearing, transportation, and the limitations on the number of animals to be kept.


Also, the Department for Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Services issued the National Plan 2017-2018 that mentions “training on basic livestock animal husbandry and animal health.” According to the last data, the Department was at the stage of “drafting good husbandry practices for poultry, pigs, and dairy cattle” (prescribed in Activity E2) and Animal Husbandry and Animal Health Law (prescribed in Activity A4).


Each year, Myanmar slaughters approximately 20 land animals per person, which is higher than the global average (9.7). Myanmar is the third country on the list with regard to slaughter after Iran and Malaysia. The highest production is laid on poultry (87.7%), including ducks, geese, guinea fowl, and other birds.


Animals kept in captivity

As was mentioned above, the Animal Health and Development Law applies to all domestic animals that are bred by humans or kept for certain purposes, but this definition is too vague because it is not clear whether this applies to those wild animals who have been captured and kept as pets or for other purposes. Assuming that the Law would apply to these animals, the anti-cruelty provisions and their related offenses can cover wild animals in captivity.

"Burmese Python Closeup" by MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Wild animals

Before 2018, Myanmar had the Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Areas Law that had a series of provisions. However, in 2018, the law was replaced by the Conservation of Biodiversity and Protected Areas Law. This Law was adopted with the purpose of carrying out the protection and conservation of wild animals and plants, ecosystems, and migratory animals in accordance with international regulations; regulating the trade of wild animals and plants and their parts, derivatives, or products; protecting geophysically unique areas, endangered wild animals and plants and their natural habitats; contributing to natural scientific research and environmental educational activities; protecting wild animals and plants by establishing zoological and botanical gardens; etc. (Chapter II) Under this law, the “wildlife” means “animals, birds, insects and aquatic animals that inhabit in their natural habitats or migrate to other areas. Wildlife includes any male sperm, female ovules, embryos, eggs, larvae, tissue, flesh, blood, and parts thereof.”


Hunting is allowed with a hunting license issued by the Director-General. Hunting is allowed to all animals, except wild animals and wild animals that are within the designated protected area. A licensed person shall “pay the hunting license fees,” “abide by the terms and conditions prescribed in the hunting license,” and “be subject to inspection by the Forest Department.” (Chapter VI)


Penalties

There are certain offenses that are punished with imprisonment for a period of up to 3 years or with a fine (minimum MMK 200 000 = USD 142 and maximum MMK 500 000 = USD 355 or both). Those offenses include hunting without a license; violating any conditions prescribed by the hunting license; commercial breeding of protected endangered wild animals with a permit; deliberately polluting soil, water, air, damaging a water-course or poisoning water, electrification, using chemical or explosive materials within the designated protected area; possessing or disposing of toxic objectives or mineral wastes in the designated protected area; etc. (Paragraph 39, Chapter XI)


Hunting, sale, possession, transportation, or transfer of protected wild animals and their body parts and other offenses are punished with imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years or with a fine (minimum MMK 300 000 = USD 213 and maximum MMK 1 000 000 = USD 709 or with both). (Paragraph 40, Chapter XI)


Killing, hunting, wounding, collecting, selling, or transferring completely protected wild animals or animals that are regulated by the international trade regulations; possession or transport of such wild animals or their body parts, blood derivatives, products; etc. are punished with imprisonment for a period of 3 to 10 years and with fine. (Paragraph 41, Chapter XI)


Animal law movement

Some animal rights activists have been standing outside in Yangon with banners and posters calling for action to protect farmed animals, the production of whom is way high in the country. Activists have been raising awareness in the public and educating any interested individuals about animal protection.

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