KATHMANDU: The regional meet of the delegates from Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan agreed to establish the South Asian regional anti-poaching secretariat in Nepal. Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) Deepak Bohora yesterday expressed Nepal’s government desire to keep the secretariat in Kathmandu.

“We decided to keep the secretariat in Nepal. Most of the global donors have committed financial support,” said Shyam Bajimaya, Joint Secretary, MoFSC.

Poaching is one of the keys to declining tiger population in South Asia, which is also a hub for trafficking animal skin.

“The agreement is a great achievement in our favour and the secretariat will work as a regional network centre for the anti poaching efforts,”said Yubaraj Bhushal, Secretary, MoFSC.

The meeting also set a target of increasing the population of the wild tigers to 6,000 by 2020.

“There are 16 landscape areas and 60 protected areas in the tiger range countries of South Asia. The meeting decided to work rigorously on those areas and principally agreed to increase the population of tiger to 6,000 by 2020,” said Shiva Raj Bhatta, a spokesperson for the DNPWC. South Asia is home to an estimated 4,000 tigers in their natural habitat, he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal today

inaugurated the Global Tiger Workshop. Addressing the

event, PM Nepal said the government was all set to save the endangered tiger population.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Deepak Bohora announced that the area of the Bardia National Park would be doubled for the purpose. “The Bardia National Park area will be doubled and we have set up the target to increase the population of tiger to 240 by 2020,”said Bohora.

As per the plans, the area covered by the Bardia National park will increase to 1,868

square kilometres.

On the occasion, Shanta Raj Gyawali, a conservationist, applauded the decision of

the government.

Earlier, representatives from the tiger range countries of South Asia had presented their papers at the workshop, which began here today. The workshop, which will last for four days, will come up with Kathmandu Declaration, according to Gyawali. “The Kathmandu Declaration will be tabled at the ministerial meeting of the tiger range countries slated for January 2010,” he added.