Nepal, China to ink MoU on trafficking in tiger parts
KATHMANDU, Jan 2: The government will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China on trans-boundary crime control in tiger parts in the first week of February.
Significantly, the Chinese side will also endorse a decision to establish a Regional Secretariat for law enforcement and control on sale of animal parts, during the same meeting.
Such a secretariat representing India, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal among the Tiger Range Countries (TRCs), was recommended at the Tiger Workshop held in Kathmandu in October.
"We will soon sign an MoU with China on trans-boundary cooperation for bio-diversity conservation and push for establishing a secretariat with all the tiger range countries of the region," Gopal Upadhyaya, director general at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), said.
However, for the secretariat to materialize, all four countries have to give their formal approval.
"We are talking with the Indian side as well since setting up the secretariat requires consensus from all the countries," Upadhyaya added.
But even before DNPWC has received a green signal from all member states for setting up the secretariat, the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation has started lobbying international agencies and donors for funds to launch an anti-poaching drive against the killing of endangered tigers in the country. The World Bank and WWF-Nepal are some of the donors the Ministry has already initiated talks with.
Minister for Forest Deepak Bohara said that the World Bank has committed $250,000 towards such a fund. "We have the commitment from the World Bank and we are looking forward to strengthening the fund through other donors," Bohara told myrepublica.com, adding, "Things will take full shape after the ministerial-level meeting in Thailand and after the MoU with China is signed."
The ministerial-level meeting to be held in China January 27-29 will adopt a resolution on tiger conservation and preservation of its habitat as recommended during the Tiger Workshop in Kathmandu. The resolution will also be adopted by the heads of state meeting schedule later in the year in Vladivostok, Russia.
China has been criticized by TRCs for its tiger breeding and farming policy over the years. However, during the tiger workshop the Chinese delegation had shown a willingness to cooperate in the regional effort to raise the number of wild tigers and help in controlling the trade in their parts.
"A regional commitment is required to save the tigers, and since 2010 has been declared Year of the Tiger, it is most appropriate that countries collaborate in this regard," Upadhyaya said.
In comparison to some 100,000 tigers in the wild a century ago, current estimates put their number at as low as 3,200 in the 14 TRCs - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Tigers today occupy a mere 7 percent of their historic range and three of the eight tiger sub-species have gone extinct in the last five decades. Poaching, illegal trade and habitat destruction are the major threats to tigers. WWF has said that it is committed to doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.