Regional plans to check trade in wildlife soon

Kathmandu, April 5:

A new national action plan for conservation of tigers is going to develop regional strategies for controlling illegal trade in wildlife along the borders with India and China.

The Tiger Conservation Action Plan for Nepal (2007-2011) will focus on transboundary cooperation “for combating illegal trade in wildlife, maintaining ecological integrity in the tiger landscapes and promoting tiger tourism”. Other goals of the action plan are: to establish detabase of tigers and their prey base, to manage tiger habitats, to minimise tiger-human conflicts, and to protect tigers and their prey base from poaching.

The action plan was drafted jointly by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, National Trust for Nature Conservation and WWF Nepal. The Nepal Nature Dot Com (NNDC) provided technical cooperation. The final draft has been sent to the government for approval.

Tiger, listed as one of the highly endangered species in Nepal, is on the verge of extinction due to lack of habitat and uncontrolled poaching. Tigers are found in Chitwan National Park, Bardiya National Park, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve as well as in some areas of Kailali, Trijuga and Jhapa. It is estimated that there are 360 to 370 tigers in Nepali jungles.

The action plan stresses transboundary cooperation at the central and local levels to complement the efforts to control poaching and smuggling of wildlife.” It further aims at maintaining ecological integrity of the wildlife habitats focusing on tigers and other flagship species that cross borders.

It also plans to organise interactions with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) secretariat to explore the possibility of using SAARC as a forum for wildlife conservation.

To meet the strategies, Nepal will prepare guidelines for holding transboundary meetings at the local level, which will include identification of issues, alternative solutions, and commitments. It has also planned to review tourism plans from the perspective of tiger tourism.

Out of the total budget of $1,097,000, the action plan has allocated $119,000 for the transboundary cooperation alone. For this, the action plan will spend $28,000, 29,000, 21,000, 23,000 and 18,000 for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth years respectively. In addition, $77,000 is allocated for the protected.

Ukesh Raj Bhuju, conservation director at the NNDC, said that the plan will be implemented soon after a ministerial level decision.