Nepal wants anti-poaching secretariat here

KATHMANDU: A meeting of Global Tiger Forum called for setting up of a new secretariat to contain the rampant poaching and trafficking of the highly endangered big cats across the South Asian countries.

The meeting was held prior

to the Global Tiger Workshop that is scheduled to begin

in Kathmandu today. With

the view to developing a strategic action plan for the protection of tigers, the government is

organising the four-day workshop.

"Although the countries in the South East Asia already agreed to control the wildlife, we have committed to support financially and technically," said Dr Mahendra Shrestha, programme director, Save the Tiger Fund.

The World Bank has

also pledged a financial assistance of $ 200,000 for the same. Moreover, United States Fish and Wildlife Service has also shown interest to support the project.

Nepal is taken as the hub for the wildlife trafficking as well as one of the best habitats for the tigers.

"We're ready to help if the tiger range countries commit to move ahead to this effect," said Keshav Varma, program director, Global Tiger Initiative, World Bank.

Nepal has expressed its interest to set up the secretariat here.

Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Dipak Bohora said that the government was ready to play key role in establishment of the regional anti-poaching secretariat here.

"It's upon the tiger range countries to decide where to establish such secretariat," said Varma. There are 14 such countries.

"The respective organisations should make it clear about the financial help and ensure the sustainability of the project," maintained Shrestha.

"If the secretariat is established here, then it will encourage us to move faster in conservation of the tigers," reasoned Minister Bohora.

It is estimated that more than 30 million dollars is invested for conserving the big cats globally per year but its population is dwindling.

The workshop will be attended by more than 200 participants, including policy-makers, scientists and conservationists from various countries, with a theme of "Saving tigers is our test; if we pass, we get to keep the planet".