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Burma captures rare white elephant

Burma says it has found a rare white elephant in the jungles of the western Ayeyarwaddy region.

The seven-year-old female was captured by forestry officials six weeks after it was spotted in a reserve in Pathein township, according to spokesman Tun Tun Oo .

He said: "We had to be careful. It's wild. We didn't want the elephant or the forestry department officials to get hurt."

White elephants, actually albinos, have been revered for centuries in Asian nations including Burma, Thailand and Laos.

Often pinkish in colour, with fair eyelashes and toenails, the animals were normally kept and pampered by monarchs as a symbol of royal power and prosperity, and many people still believe they bring good luck to the country.

Burma has eight white elephants in captivity, most from the Ayeyarwaddy region. Five are in the zoo in the capital Naypyitaw, and three in Yangon.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are between 25,600 and 32,750 Asian elephants remaining in the wild. Only males carry tusks and are the exclusive victims of poaching for their ivory.

The capture of wild elephants for domestic use has become a threat to wild populations.

India, Vietnam, and Burma have banned capture to conserve wild herds, but in Burma elephants are still caught for the timber industry or the illegal wildlife trade, the WWF says.

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