September 28-29, Thimphu: Poaching and illegal wildlife trade are the most serious and immediate threat to Asia’s many charismatic and iconic species, such as tiger, rhino and elephants. The steady draining of biological resources from Asian countries has continued largely unabated and thus negated the increasingly high conservation investments made by us. This should be of no surprise, given the increasingly sophisticated financing mechanisms, breadth and resources deployed by international poaching networks themselves. Recent studies have shown that illegal wildlife trade is one of the top-five of most lucrative illicit economies globally; recently its value was estimated to fall within the range of US$50-150 billion per year.
A huge proportion of this activity occurs in Asia, and there is broad recognition that this threat will not recede without a clear region-wide up-scale of response.
While Bhutan is known to the outside world as a leader in conservation, setting aside more than half of our country as protected areas, Bhutan cannot effort to remain complacent of this fact and not recognize the threat of poaching and illegal wildlife threat. This threat can both be internal with poaching done by our own people or our people getting involved in the trade or external with outsiders taking advantage of our porous border or with Bhutan being used as a safe conduit for illegal trade in wildlife and forestry products. In both cases, we face the challenge which is mounting day by day and preparedness to face such challenges has become the need of the hour.
The first thing towards this state of preparedness would mean building the capacity of all the stakeholders involved in such a trade. Illegal wildlife trade should not be left to the wildlife and forest authorities in the country. Starting from banks, port authorities, police and border soldiers to the justice system in the country, everybody should be aware of this daunting challenge and should be made capable of handling it.
The two days workshop on zero poaching that was held from 28-29th September 2016 was very much apt and timely, for, we see increasing cases of illegal wildlife trade in our country. Participants came up with a framework for cooperation and coordination among different agencies and will work together to curb this evil act that has the capability of not only damaging the name of one’s country but also the economy.
-Submitted by WCD
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