KATHMANDU, Feb 5: While poaching of wild animals is rampant across the globe, Nepal´s success in securing two separate zero poaching years has been lauded by several Asian countries and taken as an inspiration.
Among the 13 Tiger Range Countries participating in the ongoing Zero Poaching in Asia symposium in Kathmandu, Nepal is the only country to have achieved zero poaching.
With no rhinos killed throughout the years in question, Nepal has already celebrated zero poaching years in 2011 and 2014. In addition to this success, not a single tiger has been killed in the last three years. Big cats also come under the category of critically endangered species.
“We have proved that anti-poaching success is possible and our development has been well perceived and appreciated by many countries. Thanks be to the efforts of local communities and the security forces that helped us mark this success loud and clear,” said Tika Ram Adhikari, director general of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC).
Nepal, which shares the Terai Arc Landscape with India, is home to endangered animals like tigers, rhinos, elephants and gangetic dolphins. With its rich bio-diversity and rare flora and fauna, the country now has 10 national parks, three wildlife reserves and six conservation areas, that cover more than 13,000 square miles in total.
As per the animal census of DNPWC, there are 534 rhinos and 198 tigers in Nepal.
Highlighting Nepal´s anti-poaching success, Mike Baltzer from WWF Alive Initiative said, “This is a huge development for a country like Nepal. This accomplishment clearly shows the synergy and effort of the government, army personal, locals and all other organizations involved in conservation of wild animals.”
Progress in the protection of wild animals has been observed in India as well. A recent report suggests a 30 percent rise in tiger numbers in India since 2010. Meanwhile, the population of tigers in Nepal increased by almost two-thirds between 2009 and 2013.
Deputy Inspector General S.P. Yadav, who is with the National Tiger Conservation Authority, attributed Nepal´s success to the combined efforts of local communities, the government and the Nepal Army.
“Fighting poaching is a huge challenge and Nepal has certainly shown its caliber in protecting its rhinos. Now their focus should be centered towards ending the entire animal trade, which is illegal,” said Yadav.
In the network of wildlife smuggling, Nepal is regularly used as a transit point for delivering valuable wild animal parts to various neighboring countries and beyond. Moreover, the porous border between Nepal and India has aggravated the situation for decades now.
Meanwhile, sharing some suggestions on wild animal protection, Yadav said, “Strengthening surveillance of human activities along the border through intelligence and regular monitoring can reduce the risk of animal smuggling to a greater extent.”
“It is also important to maintain the level of public awareness and the practice of involving locals in watching over such illegal activities,” he added.
The five-day anti-poaching symposium hosted by Nepal has brought together experts and delegates from Bangaladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Through this conference we hope to develop mutual cooperation between the countries not only to battle animal poaching but even to break up the wildlife trade, which is an even more serious issue,” said Adhikari.