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SAARC Ministers to Discuss Tiger Issue in Nepal
2010-07-13 12:50:43     Xinhua      Web Editor: Han Yueling

Nepali government will be hosting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation ( SAARC) ministerial level meeting in the capital Kathmandu prior to the heads of state tiger meeting scheduled for September in Russia. 

According to Tuesday's The Himalayan Times daily, the global tiger meeting in Kathmandu last year had proposed a meeting of heads of state or government from the 13 tiger range countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

"The ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation will discuss issues related to tiger conservation in the SAARC region before the heads of the state meeting, for which the World Bank is providing financial support," said Deepak Bohara, Minister for Forests and Soil Conservation. 

South Asian countries (Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan) are habitat for about 70 percent of the world's tigers. The tiger population has declined from 100,000 to only 3,200 in one century. 

In this backdrop, Nepal has committed to double the number of tigers by 2022. To this end, the government recently declared the Banke National Park in western Nepal and increased the tiger habitat by 550 square km. According to tiger census 2009, there are 121 adult breeding tigers in Nepal at present.

According to ministry officials, the tiger conservation meeting will be held in the third week of August and ministers from India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal will discuss the endangered big cats and provide inputs for the heads of state meeting in September. Invitations will also be sent to ministers from Thailand and Myanmar.


Countries Meet In Effort to Tackle Illegal Tiger Trade
Jakarta Globe
Nusa Dua, Bali
July 12, 2010
A three-day meeting of delegates from 13 tiger-range countries kicked off in Bali on Monday with a call for more stringent law enforcement to clamp down on the illegal trade threatening the big cats. 

The Global Tiger Initiative, established by the Smithsonian Institution and the World Bank, told the meeting the illegal trade in tiger parts for traditional medicine and fashion accessories was the biggest threat to the species. 

“There is an increase in demand,” said Keshav Varma, program director for GTI at the World Bank. “Meanwhile, countries are still not doing enough to stop these people.” 

This week’s dialogue meeting is being attended by senior government officials from the 13 countries that still have wild tiger populations — India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Russia, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia — as well as nongovernmental organizations. 

The Bali meet will serve as a prelude to the Tiger Summit for heads of government, scheduled for Sept. 15-18 in Russia. 

Varma said the illegal tiger trade was getting more sophisticated, citing cases in Nepal, Tibet and Burma where poachers used high-tech weapons and communications equipment. 

He said the rising trend was fed mostly by robust demand for tiger parts. “This is a very critical time, and current efforts to fight the tiger trade will not be enough,” he added. 

Varma said initiatives by individual governments to protect tigers and crack down on the illegal trade should be followed by cross-border cooperation to ensure the effectiveness of the measures put into place. 

He said the World Bank had allocated $80 million specifically for tiger conservation and recovery programs in Southeast Asia. “The fund can be used to build conservation infrastructure and implement habitat protection management,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan outlined the government’s plan to double the country’s Sumatran tiger population to prevent it from dying out, like the extinct Balinese and Javan species. 

He told the meeting the government launched its Sumatran Tiger Strategy and Conservation Action Plan in 2007. “The commitment was implemented by establishing conservation centers in Jambi, Riau and Lampung provinces,” he said. 

Zulkifli said his ministry was also preparing to implement stricter punishments for violations related to protected animal and plant species. “Crimes such as poaching, which only saw the perpetrators serve a month or two in jail, will soon be punishable by up to five years’ incarceration,” he said. 

The total population of tigers in the wild is at an estimated all-time low of 3,200. Only six tiger subspecies remain: Bengal, Siberian, Indochinese, South China, Malayan and Sumatran.


Tiger-rescue plan to be drawn up in Indonesia
(AFP) – 4 hours ago
NUSA DUA, Indonesia — Representatives from 13 "tiger-range countries" on Wednesday drew up a rescue declaration in Bali in a bid to save the big cats from extinction. The declaration, which is to be signed in September at a "tiger summit" in St. Petersburg in Russia, aims to double the number of wild tigers across their range by 2022.

It includes plans to "do everything possible to effectively manage, preserve, protect and enhance habitats".  It also pledges to "work collaboratively to eradicate poaching, smuggling and illegal trade of tigers, their parts and derivatives".

Countries invited to attend the St. Petersburg summit are Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

World Bank Global Tiger Initiative programme director Keshav Varma said there was a "clear direction to move forward" after the pre-summit meeting in Bali, but funding was still an issue.

"There is a need to develop a global fund, multi-donor trust fund or some kind of flexible financial mechanism for this," Varma said.

Indonesian conservation official Harry Santoso said Indonesia was working on a proposal to obtain 54.17 million dollars of grant from the Global Environment Facility for biodiversity conservation projects.
Santoso said they were yet to figure out how much of the grant would be allocated for tiger conservation.

"Now that these countries have shown their willingness to act, the success of any global plan launched in St. Petersburg will depend on financial support from the international community and the tiger nations themselves," WWF Tiger Programme head Michael Baltzer said in a statement.


13 nations pledge to double tiger population by 2022

July 14 (DPA) Thirteen nations, including India, Wednesday agreed to step up their conservation efforts with the aim of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022, officials said.

Officials and conservationists from the tiger-range countries met in the Indonesian resort island of Bali from Monday through Wednesday to hammer out plans to be discussed at the Tiger Summit in Russia in September.

'This meeting was crucial in that it gave more focus to conservation plans drawn up at previous meetings in Nepal and Thailand,' said Harry Santoso, director of biodiversity conservation at Indonesia's forestry ministry.

'We are confident that with concerted efforts, the global tiger recovery programme will be successful,' said Santoso, who also headed the Indonesian delegation.

The global wild tiger population has been reduced to an estimated 3,200 animals, including 400 Indonesian Sumatran tigers, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

They are being threatened by habitat fragmentation and destruction, loss of prey, poaching and illegal trade.

At the meeting, countries presented their national tiger recovery programmes and outlined commitments to meet the target of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022.

The meeting also endorsed a draft declaration to be adopted by leaders at the Tiger Summit in Russia.

The proposed declaration stated that tiger conservation efforts are primarily a national responsibility but that 'financial and technical support of the international community' is still needed to save wild tigers.

It also called for increasing enforcement efforts to reduce the trafficking of tiger parts and to eradicate poaching and identifying and protecting key tiger habitats, such as breeding areas.

'Coming to this meeting and agreeing to some key plans represents a strong indication that these 13 governments are ready to make commitments and be held accountable for their efforts to save tigers and sets clear goals for how to do that,' said Michael Baltzer, leader of the WWF tiger programme.

'The outcomes of this meeting will provide a foundation for success at the Tiger Summit in Russia,' he said in a statement.

The 13 tiger-range countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The countries' national plans were expected to cost more than $356 million for immediate implementation, the WWF said.

Indonesia would need $75 million to build 30 tiger recovery centres on Sumatra island, train personnel and improve management, Santoso said.

Some of the money would come from the national budget but financial support from donors countries and international conservation groups is needed, he said.


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