New Delhi: To curb wildlife trafficking across the India-Nepal border, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Government of India and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Government of Nepal met today at a high-level meeting in New Delhi.

The meeting was organised by TRAFFIC’s India Office and WWF-India, in collaboration with the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Government of India, under a regional project – Countering wildlife trafficking in South Asia. It was attended by approximately 40 officials from WCCB, Forest Department, and Police from both India and Nepal; SAWEN, TRAFFIC, WWF, and other organisations working on these issues.

Dr S.P. Yadav, Interim Director General, International Big Cat Alliance, inaugurated the meeting and welcomed the delegates especially those from Nepal and SAWEN. He highlighted the threat from illegal wildlife trade to the endangered flora and fauna and reiterated the need to have an actionable strategy between both countries to curb this threat.

Dr Dipankar Ghose, Senior Director, Biodiversity Conservation, WWF-India and Interim Head of TRAFFIC’s India Office said, “Tiger, leopard and otter skins, rhino horn, red sanders, yarsa gumba, elephant ivory, bear bile, live birds, pangolins, medicinal plants among others are reported to be trafficked to Nepal and beyond. Wildlife traders use the Indo-Nepal border to smuggle wildlife products and many seizures by authorities in the past have indicated this”.

“Also, India and Nepal together hold major populations of large mammals like tigers, Asian elephants and Indian rhinos. Therefore, we need to be extra cautious about stopping this illegal wildlife trade. It is imperative to strengthen the coordination between both countries to eradicate wildlife trafficking in the region” Dr Ghose further added.

Shri H.V. Girisha IFS, Additional Director, WCCB highlights, “WCCB was established in 2008 in India as a multi-disciplinary functioning body to combat organised wildlife crime. Following the lead, WCCB Nepal was established in 2010. Considering poaching and illegal wildlife trade are not restricted by borders, both WCCB, India and Nepal must collaborate through a diplomatic mechanism for sharing real-time information, and capacity-building tools and resources for tracking and curbing wildlife crime. Illegal wildlife trade is a menace that can not be dealt with in isolation and cooperation of both countries is crucial”.

Shri Krishna Acharya, Secretary General, SAWEN said, “The primary role of SAWEN is to bring together South Asian countries on a common platform to discuss issues related to illegal wildlife trade and facilitate regional cooperation and collaboration for combating wildlife crime. Even though the efforts in the past have been fruitful, there is a need to have more dialogues among the countries. We are hopeful that a formal agreement between India and Nepal will be put in place soon for combatting trans-border illegal wildlife trade”.

Shri Bed Kumar Dhakal, Deputy Director General, Departments of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and Member Secretary, WCCB Nepal said, “Owing to rich biodiversity, Nepal remains a popular country for criminal syndicates engaged in illegal wildlife trade and transnational smuggling. Although there have been significant achievements in Nepal’s recent history, such as reaching zero poaching of rhinos for many years, organised crime remains on the rise and criminal organisations still actively engage in poaching and trafficking. Joint efforts by both the nodal agencies mandated to curb wildlife crime in India and Nepal is important and we look forward to future collaborations”.

Today’s meeting focused on sharing the latest insights into the illegal wildlife trade trends across borders, the modus operandi used by wildlife traffickers, the role of WCCB in both countries including experience sharing, growing wildlife cybercrime,  and implementation of national laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The meeting was organised under the regional project – Countering wildlife trafficking in South Asia – launched last year with funding support from the US Government.  It aims to build on the knowledge and experience of enforcement officials in South Asian countries for curbing illegal wildlife trade and will strengthen the foundation for future cooperation and collaboration.

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