Nepal seeks trans-border co-op for tiger conservation
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Last Updated: Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 19:20
Kathmandu: Nepal on Wednesday sought cooperation from its neighbours, including India, for trans-border conservation efforts to save tigers and its natural habitat, even as the country grapples with smuggling of illegal wildlife products to China.

"The government is committed to conserve biodiversity of nature and strengthen trans-border cooperation with the neighbouring countries," Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said while addressing the inaugural session of the four-day Global Tiger Workshop 2009 in the capital.

"Poaching and habitat loss are the primary problems facing the conservationists," he said.

The Nepalese premier stressed on effective trans-border cooperation to ensure better conservation in these areas.

There has been no trans-boundary meeting between Nepal and India since 2003 at the national level, though local level meetings regularly take place to address other issues.

Around 250 scientists, tiger experts, policy makers, conservationists and government officials from 20 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand, China, have gathered to find ways to protect the striped cat.

The tiger population in the wild has now declined to 3,500, which was estimated at more than 7,000 in 2000.

Habitat loss, poaching and illegal trade in wildlife are some of the major threats to conservation of tiger, Nepal's Minister for Forest Dipak Bohara said.

"We must make a serious pledge to fight against poaching and illegal trade of wildlife parts," he said.

China remains the largest market for various parts of the striped cat and tiger skins are illegally trafficked there from India via Nepal, according to experts.

Nepal is set to sign a MoU with China next month to stop illegal trade of wildlife and promote joint efforts in conservation.

Bohara had earlier admitted that Nepal was becoming the hub of international wildlife traders who have used the country as a transit point to export wildlife products to third country such as China.

Tigers are no exception to the fact that animals were the losers in animal-human conflict, Nepalese tiger expert Latifa Rana said, while blaming the increasing demand for tiger parts as the main cause of failure for tiger conservation.

Vice Minister for Natural Resource Management of Thailand Pimuk Simkarj stressed on the need for promoting wildlife tourism saying well managed wildlife tourism will help conservation efforts.

During the workshop the Tiger Range Countries' updated strategies that include actions to mitigate immediate threats, to integrate tiger conservation into the broader development objectives, to make wild tiger conservation economically sustainable, and to enhance better global support.

According to experts, tiger population has declined by 95 per cent over the past one century. In the beginning of the 19th century, around 1,00,000 tigers roamed in Asia.

The number has now further declined to less than 4,000 due to encroachment of habitat, loss of prey and increasing poaching.

Of the eight sub-species of tigers that existed until 1950s, five remains -- a point attributed to human-animal conflicts.

USA and China are known to have the largest number of tigers in captivity, where some 5,000 to 6,000 tigers are bred in farms.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 19:20

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