From the snow-capped Himalaya in the north to the south,
Myanmar's 2000km length crosses three distinct ecological
regions within the vast Indo-Malay biogeographic realm: the
Indian subregion along the Bangladesh and India borders; the
Indo-Chinese subregion in the north bordering Laos and
China; and the Sundaic subregion bordering peninsular
Thailand. Together these regions produce what is quite
likely the richest biodiversity in South-East Aisa.
Very little natural history research has been carried out in
Myanmar due to the country's self-imposed isolation from the
rest of the world since independence. Most of the studies
available date to the British colonial era and are not
reliable by today's standards. Tertiary education in the
country, which has never approached the levels of other
countries, has further declined in quality since the 1970s,
hence local research is even more scant. Myanmar's new
openness to tourism and foreign investment has only recently
extended to the reception of trained wildlife researchers.
In 1998, the Smithsonian Institute was invited to conduct
limited flora and fauna surveys in the country.
Additionally, a recent memorandum of agreement cosigned by
the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Myanmar's
Ministry of Forestry may further open the country to
contemporary natural historians.