Save the Big Cat
Published on 2009-10-31 07:26:04
It is a matter of disgrace that people have entered into an era of war with the wild. The declining rates of our endangered species such as the wild tigers, which now number only about 3,500, their prey base and habitat loss is testimony to that fact. Not to forget that at the turn of the century, there were some 100,000 tigers in the jungle. One data has estimated that in Asia alone, the illegal trade in animal parts has now crossed $1 billion, which is only second to arms trafficking. This is then a signal of a pertinent threat that no country – rich or poor – can ignore any longer. Moreover, what is lacking is a political will to save and protect the wild animals, especially those on the verge of extinction, as a result of man’s insatiable greed for money and power.
The four-day Kathmandu World Tiger Workshop, which concluded Friday with a 17-point recommendation, is a beginning in the right direction to save the tiger species and their habitats. Some 20 representatives, including the 14 Tiger Range Countries, have laid down concrete suggestions for the next ministerial meeting ultimately to be taken up by the Bangkok Summit on Tiger Preservation to be attended by head of states. They have called for declaring 2010 as the ‘Year of Tiger,’ develop and strengthen regional cooperation, discourage encroachment through infrastructure development, give community incentives to the poor around forest areas and strengthen law enforcement mechanism against rising poaching activities, among others. These are serious recommendations and demands urgent attention of the world leaders, especially those countries where illegal trafficking in animal parts continue unabated.
Unfortunately, however, the workshop has once again failed to convince China to ban tiger farming, which is considered key in protecting the wild tigers. China has explicitly said that it has too much at stake to give up either breeding or farming. Apparently, medicines produced from tiger parts are sold to over 60 countries from China. It is thus clear that there is now a need for an international convention aided by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to save tigers as even Cambodia, Vietnam and US are said to be taking to tiger farming.
At home, the decision-makers are already faced with a major challenge to give priority to conservation over development and tourism. Although Nepal’s direct contribution to the organized trans-border crime is considered minimum, it is a major hub for killing, storing and transporting of animal parts. Thus, the job to protect the tigers will now be doubly challenging. The government’s much-talked about plan to formulate a high-level crime control bureau, add appropriate resources and technology to fight poaching and mobilize the security agencies in the buffer zones should be implemented at once. If the state remains a silent spectator to the plight of our tigers even now, our future generations will surely see this incredible species only in comic books and movies.