First World Wildlife Day Celebrations

Theme: “Bhutanese People and Wildlife to live in Harmony”

Background on World Wildlife Day

The 16th Conference of Parties (COP) on Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held last year (3-14 March) in Bangkok, Thailand. As one of the resolutions (Resolution conference 16.1) from the COP 16th on CITES, Wildlife Day on 3rd March was endorsed. Further, on 20 December 2013, 68th United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) formalized 3rd of March as World Wildlife Day. In addition to which all member countries were encouraged to observe the day. The day is declared to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild flora and fauna in view of its intrinsic value and contribution to the ecological, genetic, social, scientifc, educational, cultural, recreational, andaesthetic aspects of sustainable development and human well being.

Celebrations in Thimphu

The First World Wildlife Day was observed on 3rd March 2014 at the Clock Tower, Thimphu. Her Royal Highness Ashi Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck graced the occasion and the other guests included several ministers like Agriculture and Forests Minister, Health Minister, Information and Communications Minister and Education Minister, Lyonpo C.Dorji and Deputy Minister Lyonpo Nado Rinchen from the Royal Privy Council, and representatives from WWF Bhutan, FAO Bhutan, BTFEC and many senior government officials from several ministries. A total of two hundred invitees including dhesups, foresters and students of Loseling Middle Secondary School (LMSS) attended the celebration.

The half day program commenced with a welcome address by the Chief Forestry Officer (CFO), Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD), Department of Forest and Park Services (DoFPs). In his address, he highlighted the importance of observing the day along with the rest of the CITES member states. He mentioned that Bhutan being guided by Buddhist philosophy of compassion and respect for all life forms has contributed to the Bhutanese attitude towards our wildlife conservation. Despite the several major challenges faced at this time, our government has put in place mitigation measures to address human wildlife conflict. For example, initiation of the ‘Endowment Fund’ and exploring alternative livelihoods for our farmers are in place to address human conflict with wildlife. He also expressed that, Bhutan is well acknowledged globally on its conservation efforts by our visionary and beloved monarchs and has also received several recognition for it. Furthermore, Conservation Director, Vijay Moktan in his remarks submitted that in view of the global biodiversity loss, it indirectly troubles the very existence of human who are dependent on this biodiversity. Ecosystem services are nature’s gifts we enjoy and yet we tend to forget & ignore who provides these services and exclaimed “Everyone’s property and no one’s responsibility”, according to Vijay. Vijay shared that habitat loss & degradation, climate change, excessive nutrient load & other forms of pollution, over-exploitation & unsustainable use of natural resource and invasive alien species are five (5) principle pressures that are faced by our biodiversity today. He also expressed that human-wildlife conflict and illegal wildlife trade are the two (2) most common subjects related to wildlife people are familiar with. Vijay concluded by requesting audience to pledge to save our planets biodiversity.

The program included entertainment items such as traditional dance performances and skit on human wildlife conflict by Happy Valley group. The skit conveyed the message of thuen pa puen zhi, living in harmony with nature and it was well acknowledged by the audience. The program concluded with vote of thanks and tashi lapey joined by chief guest and all guests.

– Submitted by Wildlife Conservation Division

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