International tiger symposium held in Nepal

Updated: 2007-04-22 19:13
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With the objective of finding ways to save the endangered spices from being totally extinct, experts on tiger conservation from all over the world gathered in Nepali capital Kathmandu for the three-day international tiger symposium held on April 16-20.

The symposium was jointly organized by the World Tiger Forum and the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation of Nepal. Around 100 participants including experts from 12 tiger range countries including Nepal, India, Bangladesh, China, Bhutan and Malaysia participated in the symposium along with representatives of international non-government organizations working for species conservation.

The main objective of the symposium was to take stock of the tiger conservation situation in the wild world over and adopt appropriate strategies to ensure its future.

During the symposium, a total of 20 working papers were presented on different dimensions of tiger conservation such as status of tiger and importance of regional cooperation, conservation and trade in the context of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Spices implementation and monitoring and evaluating tiger population and its habitat. Nepal presented the tiger status paper and tiger action plan.

General Secretary of the forum SC Dey stated that the survival of tiger, a charismatic mega species which represents the apex of eco-system pyramid, should be a priority at the national level, which requires both political and common people's support.

He added, conservation of tiger, in addition to poaching and illegal trade, is linked with habitat loss and fragmentation, decline in prey base, man-animal conflict and public perception about tiger conservation.

It was informed during the symposium that out of the eight sub- species of tigers, only five species -- Siberian tiger, South China tiger, Indo-Chinese tiger, Sumatran tiger and Bengal tiger -- are found these days. It is believed that around 5,000 to 7,000 tigers are left in the world.

The population of tiger is reported stable in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Russia while it is on the decline in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos.

Jhama Bahadur Karki, the conservation officer at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, said according to a tiger census conducted in 2002, Nepal's tiger population is between 350 and 370.

The chairperson of the organizing committee, Ananta Parajuli, said that the symposium, among others, will encourage countries to prepare and implement their individual tiger action plans for protection and growth of the tiger population and its prey base.

While discussing on strategies to prevent the poaching, the factors behind the decline in number of tigers and the strategies to prevent the lucrative trade in tiger parts, conservationists said that poachers in countries such as India are paid as little as 20 US dollars per tiger, illegal whole dead tigers sell for between 20,000 and 30,000 dollars in international market.

During the symposium, the forum also noted that besides stepping up the anti-poaching operations, there was a need for new strategies to save the tiger and this included more international cooperation.

Meanwhile, Director of the Global Species Program of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) International, Sue Liberman, who was in Kathmandu to participate in the symposium, warned that the shrinkage of tiger habitat was a "real and the biggest" challenge for Nepal.

"Just like other countries where tigers are found, Nepal is also suffering from destruction of tiger habitats and people's encroachment in the wildlife areas," she said.

"Though Nepal's efforts in the conservation of tigers are appreciable, it is yet to come up with an up-to-date statistics of tigers," she said, adding that Nepal should produce better results in the field of tiger conservation.

Followed by the symposium, the 4th General Assembly of the World Tiger Forum also held in Kathmandu, has re-elected Nepal as its president for next three years term.

Prior to this, Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam had hosted the first, second and third general assembly of the forum respectively.

Established in 1994 with seven tiger range countries, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan and Vietnam and Bangladesh, the goal of the forum is to highlight the rationale for tiger preservation and provide leadership and common approach throughout the world in order to safeguard the survival of the tiger, its prey and its habitat.