CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK, NEPAL, January 30, 2012 – Partners in the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) opened a 2-week training course for wildlife conservation professionals at Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal today to introduce smart patrolling practices and technology in the struggle against poachers and wildlife crime networks. Nearly 40 practitioners from Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Russia are attending the course from January 30 to February 13, 2012.
The GTI is an international alliance of governments, 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 first strategic Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), adopted by the governments of 13 tiger range countries (TRCs)1 in St. Petersburg, Russia in November 2010 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. Their numbers have declined by half over the last decade.
The training course is hosted by Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and facilitated by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Tiger Conservation Partnership, the World Bank Institute, Nepal’s National Trust for Nature Conservation and the World Wildlife Fund Nepal program.
“Rampant poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking pose the most immediate danger to the survival of tigers in the wild. The professionals on the front lines in tiger range countries need to be equipped with the latest patrolling technologies and skills to partner with communities and confront this menace,” noted Keshav Varma, Program Director of the Global Tiger Initiative.
Chitwan National Park, a priority tiger population center in the Terai Arc landscape and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the venue for the program. The training will focus on sharing best conservation practices to be applied in the tiger range countries.
Protected area management teams will be introduced to leadership strategies and modern patrolling technologies and management tools utilizing global positioning satellite equipment. The e-Institute at the World Bank will make the course materials accessible online for continuous peer exchanges and learning.
Capacity-building and training of protected area management teams, from senior management to front line park rangers, are essential building blocks in carrying out the larger strategy to support tiger conservation. The World Bank is supporting this work through a US$ 42 million regional IDA project “Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection in Asia” that is under implementation in Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
“The World Bank is committed to balance better economic development with nature conservation and environmental protection, and tigers are at the very heart of it. The biggest threat to wild tigers is poaching,” said Tahseen Sayed, the World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. “Their survival hinges on the ability of tiger range countries and their partners in conservation to put an end to wildlife crimes.”
In 2009, the World Bank and Smithsonian Institution, with its unmatched expertise in restoration of threatened species, agreed to collaborate to upgrade capacity in tiger range countries. The regional training courses receive financing from the World Bank’s Development Grant Facility, under the Global Tiger Initiative. It supports a Core Learning Program to scale up national programs in wildlife management in the 13 tiger range countries. It also supports the newly established South Asian Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN), currently hosted by the Government of Nepal.
The regional smart patrol training in Chitwan follows the first regional course of the year, which recently concluded at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand.
1 There are 13 tiger range countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.