From battle to refugeMUTRAW DISTRICT, KAREN STATE, BURMA--Can a battlefield be turned into an indigenous-run protected area for scores of endangered species like tigers, gibbons and wild cattle? Yes it can, according to almost 300 local leaders, ethnic soldiers and activists gathered May 23-26 for a consultation in this remote mountainous corner of Burma. They call it the Salween Peace Park, a first of its kind in the world.

"Foreign conservationists are amazed that more than 20 kinds of predators like tigers and clouded leopards survive here. They say, 'but it's not protected as a national park'. I tell them, it is the way of life of the Karen people that protects these species and their habitats. If you make it into a national park like in Thailand or Burma, the animals will all be gone," said Saw Blaw Htoo, leader of the biodiversity program of the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN), the ethnic Karen organization helping to initiate the Salween Peace Park. 

The full press release is available as below.