BANGKOK, January 6, 2012 – Global Tiger Initiative partners launched a hands-on training for wildlife conservation professionals from national parks and protected areas in the South East Asia region today at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand.
The Global Tiger Initiative is an international alliance of governments, global NGOs, international organizations, the conservation community, and the private sector. The course is part of a scaled-up training initiative in high-priority tiger conservation areas under the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), adopted by the governments of 13 tiger range countries (TRCs) in St. Petersburg, Russia in November 2010. The Global Tiger Recovery Program is the first strategic plan adopted by the thirteen tiger range countries to protect and recover wild tiger populations by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022. Only about 3,200 tigers remain in the wild today, occupying increasingly fragmented patches of forest across Asia.
“Survival of tigers in the wild depends on the ability of tiger range countries to deploy well-equipped professionals on the front lines of national parks and protected areas with technology that can put pressure on poachers and organized wildlife crime syndicates. Smart technology and training that brings the expertise of the Smithsonian Institution, World Bank Institute, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation of Thailand and Wildlife Conservation Society to Huai Kha Khaeng will help level the playing field for TRCs against wildlife crime,” noted Keshav Varma, Program Director of the Global Tiger Initiative.
Damrong Phidet, Director General at the Royal Government of Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, welcomed U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney, officials from the World Bank, Smithsonian Institution, Wildlife Conservation Society, representatives from other partner organizations and more than 30 wildlife practitioners who will participate in the two-week training program January 6-21, 2012.
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, a priority tiger conservation landscape and UNESCO World Heritage Site in western Thailand, is the venue for the two-week training program organized and facilitated by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Tiger Conservation Partnership, the World Bank Institute, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The training will focus on sharing best conservation practices to be applied in the tiger range countries, enhanced by Global Tiger Initiative partners’ scientific, technical, and management expertise.
Modern patrolling technologies and management will be introduced, utilizing global positioning satellite equipment, known as smart and MIST systems. Protected area management teams will also be introduced to new tools and strategies to help jumpstart implementation of the latest and most effective systems in their own countries.
Capacity-building and training of protected area management teams, from senior management to park ranger on the front lines, are essential building blocks in carrying out the larger strategy to support tiger conservation, which is supported by the Global Tiger Recovery Program. By taking the offensive against poachers and other wildlife crime networks, tiger range country wildlife and national parks departments are working together to create a firewall around priority protected areas and wildlife landscape corridors between them. Along with other coordinated actions stipulated in the GTRP, the use of smart technology on the front lines of tiger conservation can help hold the lines and set the stage for longer-term conservation activities to protect and recover wild tigers, as well as the rich biodiversity living in the landscapes where tigers live.
In 2009, the World Bank and Smithsonian Institution agreed to collaborate to upgrade capacity in tiger range countries, aiming to train hundreds of rangers, foresters, and other wildlife managers on cutting-edge practices in biodiversity management. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute brings unmatched experience and commitment to the study, management, protection, and restoration of threatened species and ecosystems.
Participants in this leg of the smart patrol training are from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Later in January, a group of protected area management teams will attend a similar program at Chitwan National Park in Nepal with park directors, staffers and NGOs from Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, China and Russia.