February 10, 2014, Paro: To help tackle illegal wildlife trade, the Department of Forest and Park Services (DoFPS) in partnership with International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) and INTERPOL is holding the second training workshop on ‘Prevention of Wildlife Trade (PWT)’ for officials of various enforcement agencies of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
The four-day workshop was inaugurated today by His Excellency Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Forests. Forty seven officials from the DoFPS, Department of Revenue and Customs, Royal Bhutan Police and Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Judiciary and Office of the Attorney General are attending the workshop.
During the inauguration of the workshop, H.E. Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said, “Bhutan is recognized globally for its conservation leadership. To conserve these rich spaces lost forever elsewhere in the world, our Constitution decrees at least 60 percent of the country to be covered in forests in perpetuity.”
The Minister thanked the tireless contributions by the Forest Department personnel for preservation of the country’s natural heritage and to shed light on the significance of collaboration between various agencies including the DoFPS, BAFRA, judiciary, police, Army, and Customs.
Commending IFAW and WTI for their contributions to wildlife protection internationally and listing the initiatives supported by IFAW-WTI in Bhutan including the current workshop in collaboration with INTERPOL, the Minister said, “I know that long after we are all gone, your contributions this week will be one of the most enduring foundations in our endeavours to conserve the natural heritage of Bhutan.”
The current workshop will address issues ranging from identification of commonly traded wildlife species of flora and fauna, international regulations for preventing the illegal trade, theory of wildlife crime, the driving forces behind it as well as national laws and regulations of Bhutan and their implementation.
Sonam Wangchuk, the Chief of the Wildlife Conservation Division and CITES Management Authority of Bhutan’s DoFPS, commented on the workshop saying, “Trainings like these ones provided by IFAW-WTI are crucial in helping authorities keep a check on wildlife trade in the country. With wildlife crime rates on a global high, it becomes pertinent to involve other agencies like the police, BAFRA, department of revenue and customs who play a vital role in prevention of wildlife crimes and helps in the apprehension and conviction of perpetrators.”
This is the second phase of the PWT in Bhutan. The resource-persons include wildlife trade control experts from the DoFPS, INTERPOL, IFAW and WTI. The first phase took place in July 2011 where experts from IFAW-WTI covered the entire gamut of wildlife trade control, international regulations and enforcement in a four-day training, which had been preceded by a rescue, rehabilitation and conflict management workshop.
During this workshop, IFAW trainer Dr Elsayed Mohamed will be walking the members through particulars of CITES and will conduct a practical workshop on identification of various animal articles, products and concealment methods adopted by smugglers across the world. Mr. Vivek Menon from IFAW-WTI will conduct sessions on identification of various wildlife found in the region and the overall global scenario of crimes associated with the trafficking of wildlife. INTERPOL’s Andreou Andreas will delve into profiling the smugglers and the common techniques and methodologies employed by them during transportation and trade. Basics of rescue and rehabilitation of confiscated animals will be dealt with by trainer from IFAW-WTI Jose Louies.
“Illegal trade is one of the greatest threats to wildlife across the world. Fighting this effectively requires cooperation and expertise at various levels and institutions, within a nation and between different nations. Workshops like these help effectively mobilise agencies concerned within a government to curb wildlife trade,” said Vivek Menon, Regional Director – South Asia, IFAW and Executive Director, WTI, who has been at the forefront in the fight against wildlife trade.
Bhutan, with ten wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, is resplendent with many species of flora and fauna to boast of including the Bengal tiger, snow leopard, common leopard, clouded leopard, golden langur, takin, red panda, various species of hornbills, Asian elephants, Asiatic black bear to name a few.
“Bhutan is a unique country with rich biodiversity and is already contributing so much through the government mandate of 60% forest cover at all times, and the enthusiasm of the officials and people in protecting the natural heritage. It is not just inspirational but also a learning experience for us, and an honour to be of assistance here to help address threats to wildlife,” remarked Kelvin Alie, Director of Wildlife Trade Programme, IFAW.
Submitted by: WTI/IFAW and WCD, DoFPS.
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