June 29, 2010 / 10:34 AM / 9 years ago

Rare white elephant caught in Myanmar

YANGON (Reuters Life!) - Authorities in Myanmar have caught a rare white elephant, which are believed to bring good fortune, in a western region hit by deadly flooding this month, state media reported Tuesday.

Villagers in Rakhine state in western Myanmar had reported the white elephant in a herd of five animals and Ministry of Forestry staff then went searching for it.

“They managed to catch the white elephant ... on June 26,” newspapers said.

White elephants have long been venerated in Asian countries and have traditionally been symbols of powerful and just kings. At times, kings went to war over the animals.

The elephants are not actually white but have pale patches on their hides.

The cow elephant, aged about 38, was the third white elephant captured in Myanmar since 2001. White elephants were found in the same western region in 2001 and 2002.

In announcing the capture of the first one, in 2001, state media said the animal would protect the country.

“It is assumed that the nation will be peaceful, prosperous and totally free from all dangers because of the white elephant,” state media said at the time.

The two elephants captured earlier have been kept at a specially built park in northern Yangon.

A knowledgeable resident of the region where the latest elephant was captured said it took the team about three months to track it down.

The elephant was expected to be taken to the country’s new capital of Naypyitaw in a few weeks, said the resident, who declined to be identified.

More than 60 people were killed in flooding and landslides in Rakhine State this month, many of them in the same area where the elephant was found.

Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Robert Birsel

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