Oct 23, 2012
Second Asian Ministerial Conference: “This is not a pledge to save tigers, but a pledge to save humanity itself,” agriculture minister (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said yesterday, at a follow up meet on the commitment that 13 tiger range countries made two years ago.
The commitment then was to double the number of tigers by 2020 (the next Year of the Tiger). The estimated tiger population in the world today is 3,500.
Availability of funding, and how to better link conservation and protection of tigers with livelihood of people, are the key challenges in achieving this goal, the minister said, in his address at the second Asian ministerial conference on tiger conservation in Thimphu.
Lyonpo said that, if tigers are to survive and thrive, not only good policies and legislation, but also good implementation, security and enforcement agencies are needed. “When we conserve tigers, we’re conserving the whole ecosystem and all the resources that it contains, which provides the basis for our sustainability, food, water, air, shelter and clothing.”
Chief Justice Sonam Tobgye, who attended the opening ceremony, said that people of Bhutan had coexisted with tigers and other species of wildlife for centuries, and it is for this reason that Bhutan’s conservation policy recognises the co-existence of human and wildlife. “Article four of the constitution incorporates the doctrines of public trustee, and makes every Bhutanese an owner and trustee of biological resources, including that preservation of our wildlife,” he said. “Bhutanese people continue to make enormous sacrifice, both at the farm level and at the national level.”
Representatives from 13 tiger range countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam, along with world tiger experts and representatives from non-government organisations and donor agencies, including Global Tiger Initiative (GTI)/World Bank, World Wildlife Fund, Global Environment Facility, Interpol and United Nations Development Program are attending the two-day meet, which ends today.
The World Bank director, Bruno Laporte, told participants that there is a growing convergence of understanding that saving tigers and natural landscape is not only the business of government and non-government organisations, but also the business of industry and private sector at large.
“Constructive engagement and practical collaboration among government, industry and civil society and communities is absolutely essential to reverse habitat destruction and degradation,” he said.
United States ambassador to India, Nancy J Powell, said that the US attaches great importance to the work of the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative, its partners and, especially, to all tiger range countries.
Saving wild tigers, Powell said, is in the human and development interest of all countries. “Protecting our natural resources, specially the endangered species, has increasingly also become an issue, impacting the security of nations, because of the massive upswing in international wildlife trafficking, and we need to recognise wildlife crime as a serious crime that undermines good governance and the rule of law,” she said.
“Deepening US support to combat wildlife trafficking, we’re happy to announce significant additional assistance to the US agency for international development, South Asia wildlife enforcement network and Interpol environment crimes programs.”
According to the enforcement support chief of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Barend Van Rensburg, there are now seven billion people consuming biodiversity everyday, including in the form of food, medicine, clothes, furniture, perfumes and luxury goods.
Natural resources, Rensburg said, should be used sustainably, and in a manner that does not harm the survival of species in the wild. “Considerable efforts have been taken for many years to protect the tiger in the wild, yet evidence shows that today, despite of all these efforts, tiger population continue to be targeted by criminals for illegal trade,” he said.
The program director of Global Tiger Initiative, Keshav Varma, added that poachers and wildlife traffickers are becoming ever more sophisticated, and so much needs to be done.
The program manager of INTERPOL, David Interpol, added that sharing information and intelligence is critical.
“Interpol, with its 190 member countries, and its national police agencies, through national interpol central bureaus, are equipped and prepared to stand aside to support the efforts in tackling the criminals that are eroding the conservational efforts to conserve tigers,” he said.
The two-day meeting will also look into key achievements in implementing conservation strategies, and also issue guidance on continuing momentum and ensure continued high-level political support. HRH Ashi Kesang Wangmo attended the opening yesterday.
Bhutan has an estimated 130-150 tigers.