A rare white elephant has been captured in the jungles of north-western Myanmar, a mostly Buddhist country where the animals are considered good omens, state media reported Tuesday.
Forestry officials found the animal Saturday, acting on a tip, in the jungles of Maungdaw township in north-western Rakhine state, the New Light of Myanmar reported, describing the elephant as about 38 years old and 7 feet and 4 inches (2.2 meters) tall.
White elephants, actually albinos, have for centuries been revered in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and other Asian nations. They were normally kept and pampered by monarchs and considered a symbol of royal power and prosperity.
The newspaper did not say where the elephant would be housed. It will be the fourth white elephant held in captivity in Myanmar. The three others are at the Mindhamma Hill park, in suburban Yangon, where they live in an enclosure with spiralled pavilions, a manmade waterfall, ponds, trees and vegetation.
Previous white elephants transported from the jungles have been heralded in lavish ceremonies where the country’s military leaders sprinkle them with scented water laced with gold, silver and precious gems.
White elephants are not necessarily white. They can look similar to other elephants except for certain features like fair eyelashes and toenails, light-coloured hair or a reddish hue to the skin.
In neighbouring Thailand, all white elephants are traditionally handed over to the king. A war was fought in the 16th century between Thailand and Myanmar, then Siam and Burma respectively, over disputed ownership of four white elephants.