Category: TRC Updates

Webinar on Implementation of the St. Petersburg Declaration & Emerging Issues

A webinar on “Implementation of the St. Petersburg Declaration and Emerging Issues” was organized by the Bangladesh Forest Department in collaboration with Global Tiger Forum (GTF) and Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC) on August 7, 2020.

The webinar was focused on:

  • Major TRC level milestones since 2010 St. Petersburg Declaration
  • Emerging issues
  • Beyond 2022 – what next?

To see the complete webinar, click on the link:

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Tables Turned on Poachers

Source: Star online, Monday, 29 Jul 2019, Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Two battalions of the police general operations force (GOF) have been directed to assist the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) in tackling poachers, especially those hunting the endangered Malayan tigers, says Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador.

The Inspector-General of Police said one of the battalions, comprising 500 members, would be deployed together with Perhilitan personnel to patrol the forest. Another battalion, he added, would be put on standby.

Both battalions are from Perak Senoi Praaq, the police unit made up mostly of Orang Asli.

Speaking to reporters after the launch of the World Tiger Day 2019 celebration here yesterday, Abdul Hamid said the police were committed to helping the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry in tackling the scourge of poaching.

“I am assigning the task to the Senoi Praaq battalions because of their tracking skills and their familiarity with the forest surroundings,” he added.

He said the police, apart from drawing up a standard operating procedure in facing threats from poachers, would train Perhilitan personnel in the use of firearms.

This collaboration followed talks held recently to form a joint action force comprising the police and the Perhilitan to curb poaching and the sale of protected wildlife.

Meanwhile, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali named three tiger cubs born at Zoo Negara in conjunction with the celebration at the zoo.

The Prime Minister’s wife, who is also the patron of Save Our Malayan Tiger Campaign, named the two male cubs Wira and Hebat, and the female cub Melur.

Also present at the ceremony were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as well as Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

Dr Siti Hasmah also called for the people to work together to protect the Malayan tiger to ensure its population, which now stands at 200, would increase to 500 in future.

According to official data, there were more than 3,000 Malayan tigers in the country in the 1950s.

Dr Siti Hasmah said the Malayan tigers needed to be protected from extinction as the animal was featured in the nation’s coat of arms to symbolise strength.

During the ceremony, she also received contributions amounting to RM1.33mil from private companies, NGOs, universities and schools including the Al-Bukhary Foundation and staff of ministries towards the Malayan tiger conservation efforts.

World Tiger Day is celebrated every July 29 to inculcate public awareness of the importance of protecting, preserving and conserving this endangered species.

At the event, the guests were also treated to a video of two groups of Malayan tigers — a pair of mother and cub as well as a female tiger with her three cubs — roaming in their natural habitat, which was believed to be a national park in Peninsular Malaysia.

The exact location of the national park had to be kept secret to protect the animals from poachers. — Bernama.

Article Source: GTF Newsletter 2019

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Tiger population in Sundarbans rises to 114

by Mehedi Al Amin, Dhaka Tribune

Tiger numbers have increased 8% in three years

The number of Bengal tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarban forests has increased to 114, according to a recent tiger census.

The number rose to 114 in 2018, up from 106 recorded during a previous survey in 2015, revealed the latest census: “Second phase status of tigers in Bangladesh Sundarbans 2018”.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin formally released the report at Hoimonti auditorium of Ban Bhaban in Agargaon yesterday.

Citing the report, the minister said: “In 2015, the number of tigers was 106. Now, we have 114 tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, which is an increase of 8%.”

“We have 2.55 tigers per 100 square kilometer of the Sundarbans. The number was 2.17 in 2015,” he said. Senior ministry and Department of Forest officials were present at the event.

The second phase census began in 2016 under USAID’s Bengal Tiger Conservation Activity (BAGH) project. The camera trap method was used to record the number of tigers.

The survey was conducted in four phases from December 1, 2016, to May 10, 2018. Cameras were set up over 1,659 square kilometers of tiger inhabited areas in the Sundarbans. Of the total area, 1,208sq km are in Satkhira, 165sq km in Khulna, and 283sq km in the Shoronkhola range of Bagerhat district.

The camera traps were deployed at 536 locations in the Sundarbans and captured 2,466 images of tigers during the 249-day census. A total of 63 adult tigers, four juveniles, and five cubs were identified, and Spatially Explicit Capture Recapture (SECR) analysis of the adult tigers says this amount to an overall density of 2.55 tigers per 100 square kilometers and a population of 114 tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin said: “It is our national duty to protect tigers. If we fail to protect tigers, the whole ecosystem of the Sundarbans will collapse. Tigers are already under threat of extinction, due to poaching and the expansion of human settlements.

“The increase in tiger numbers gives us some hope. We will do everything needed to further increase the number of Bengal Tigers,” he added.

Chief Conservator of Forests, Mohammed Shaiful Alam Chowdhury, said: “Poaching is a grave threat to tigers, as there is a big market for them in Chinese medicine. We must stop the poaching.”

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Deputy Minister Habibun Nahar, Secretary Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, other high officials of the ministry, and representatives of Jahangirnagar University and USAID were among those in attendance at the program.

The USAID BAGH project’s first phase survey in 2015 recorded 106 tigers.

The tiger census was conducted by the Bangladesh Forest Department in cooperation with Wildteam, and the Smithsonian Conservation Institute. USAID financed the several census under the BAGH project. The department of zoology at Jahangirnagar University assisted with the data analysis and preparation of the report.


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Bhutan’s Wild Cats: A story of Hope

From: GTF Newsletter

Bhutan is a small Himalayan country that covers only 0.03 percent of the world’s surface-yet is home to 30 percent of the world’s wild-cat species. How is this possible?
Bhutan’s diversity of habitats, from subtropical jungles in the south to snow-clad mountains in the north, offer a unique environment for these wild cats to thrive. But in a region with rapid development and modernization, natural biodiversity is not enough to ensure survival for wild cat species. For years, Bhutan has made conservation a priority. Its constitution mandates at least 60 percent forest cover . . . forever.

Forward-thinking leadership, Buddhist ethics, sustainable resource use, and support from conservationists around the world make Bhutan a beacon of hope for these wild cats.

Please support the Bhutan Foundation in conducting critical research to help these wild cats thrive in Bhutan. With your support, researchers and wildlife biologists at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for the Conservation and Environment will be able to carry about important research to provide important data to protect these wild cats.

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Alarm over illegal wildlife trade

By Nirmal Ghose, The Straits Times/ANN

It was a discovery that shocked even those who feared the worst: 70 dead tiger cubs and other wildlife species stuffed in freezers.

The Thai authorities, raiding the now infamous Tiger Temple in the western province of Kanchanaburi over the past week, uncovered what they suspect could be a transnational tiger-smuggling racket.

For years, it had been breeding tigers and attracting paying tourists, reaping a windfall as an attraction. But under the noses of the visitors, the temple was apparently packaging tiger parts to be sold as potions in labelled jars across Southeast Asia and China. Last Friday, the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said the tiger seizures at the temple represented “only a tiny proportion of the enormous extent of an illegal trade in wildlife that is pushing species to the brink of extinction”.

“Until the illegal trade in wildlife is stopped, we are only likely to see more of these types of situations,” it said. Environmental crime – which includes wildlife and timber trafficking – is growing at an “alarming pace”, Interpol secretary general Juergen Stock said in a statement on Saturday, the eve of World Environment Day. This year’s theme is “Fight against illegal trade in wildlife”.

Globally the value of such crime is between US$91 billion and US$258 billion, a sharp jump from the US$70 billion to US$213 billion in 2014, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol.

Weak laws and poorly funded security forces are enabling international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from a trade that fuels conflicts, devastates ecosystems and is threatening species with extinction, the report said.

Environmental crime is the world’s fourth largest criminal enterprise after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking, the two agencies noted.

Criminal syndicates have links deep in the forests of Asia, Africa and Latin America, with wildlife trade routes leading to China and East Asia where the big markets lie – China for ivory, rosewood and other wildlife and timber products; and Vietnam for timber and rhino horn among others.

The rich tropical jungles of Southeast Asia are only one area being looted by environmental criminals. Globally, over the past 10 years, over 1,000 park rangers have been killed, 80 per cent of them by commercial poachers and armed militia groups.

According to the Britain-based Global Witness, over 1,000 environmental and land rights activists and protesters have been murdered worldwide since 2002. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 African elephants were killed out of a population of fewer than 500,000. Close to 100 African elephants are killed every day for their ivory – one every 15 minutes. Chimpanzees, killed for meat and for the exotic pet trade, are now completely extinct in Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo, where they were once numerous.The harmless pangolin has been killed at the rate of an estimated 117,000 to 233,000 from 2011- 2013.Pangolin processing factories have been found deep in the jungles of Indonesia, and trucks stuffed with tonnes of pangolins have been found trying to cross from Malaysia to Thailand on the way to Laos and China. The UN has called for “zero tolerance for wildlife crime”.

There are, however, some encouraging signs, says Bangkok based regional coordinator Giovanni Broussard of UNODC’s program on combating wildlife and forest crime.

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Bringing Back the Tiger to Cambodia

Courtesy: IANS, Posted by Badsha ray, New Delhi

The WWF report recommends at least eight tigers to be introduced in Cambodian forests, so that after successful breeding the population could rise to 25 over a period of 10 years.

Eight tigers from India – six females and two males – would be translocated to Cambodia where the big cats have been declared extinct. The Indian tigers would be “re-introduced” in two different locations in Cambodia over the next five years.

“It will take at least five years to reintroduce the Indian tigers and place them in two different, safe enclosed breeding areas,” Sokhun Ty, a senior official of the Cambodian ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told IANS here.

“The tigers would be re-introduced in the eastern highlands of Mondulkiri Protected forests and the Cardamom Mountains in the western part, that covers one million hectares of area,” Ty, who is Secretary of State in the ministry, said. He was here to participate in the the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on tiger conservation.

He said his government has begun negotiations with India on the matter.

“We have initiated the process of seeking help from India, though its not formal yet,” Ty said, adding that India has “expressed willingness to support the reintroduction of tigers in Cambodia.” He said the talks had begun at the level of envoys last year.

Elaborating on Cambodia’s plan, Ty said: “Under our national tiger recovery action plan, tigers could be reintroduced in Cambodia from 2016 to 2026, for which about $33 million would be required. We are also taking help of our conservation partners, like World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Global Tiger Forum, Global Tiger Index and others”.

According to a recent WWF report “Bringing back Cambodia’s Roar”, the last known tiger in Cambodia was reported in the eastern Mondulkiri province in 2007. Tigers belonging to the breeding population are believed to be functionally extinct. However, Cambodian officials believe it is not true.

“We don’t believe that the tigers have become extinct in Cambodia. In the last five years we confiscated 10 tigers from poachers. They were sent to the zoo. I am sure that in Mondulkiri there must be some tigers, but the number would be very low, and the area is very large,” he added. Cambodian dry forests were once inhabited by the Indochinese tiger.

The WWF report recommends at least eight tigers to be introduced in Cambodian forests, so that after successful breeding the population could rise to 25 over a period of 10 years.

According to Ty, “To make the tiger plan successful, 10 sq km area is required for one tiger with adequate numbers of tiger prey in one sq km.”

Banteng – a wild cattle, Sambar and Muntjac — barking deer, are the key tiger prey in the forests of Cambodia. The report suggests that to sustain tiger growth under the reintroduction plan, the Sambar deer population must be increased to nine per sq km by 2018 — as prey for one tiger. This would work out to 90 Sambar deer in a 10 sq km area for one tiger.

“Tiger prey assessment is also under process,” Ty said.

According to Keo Omaliss, Director, Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity, Cambodia “we still have a long way to go, especially in terms of tiger prey assessment in Cambodian jungles, and to make sure if the Indian tigers could be successfully translocated and reintroduced in the Cambodian forests.”

He said some studies had mentioned that Indian tigers and Cambodian tigers were of the same sub-species, so there would likely be no problem in terms of genetics. “However, there is a big question for us too; so scientists are also working on that aspect as well,” Omaliss told IANS.

As per experts, there are genetic variations between the Asian tigers, which includes the Bengal Tiger, Malayan, Indochinese and Amur aka Siberian tiger. The WWF report finds tigers from India or Nepal best suited for re-introduction as the habitats are similar.

In Combodia, about 60 percent of the forests are under protection and conservation system.

Cambodia lost most of its tigers due to poaching and deforestation. It is now left with vast “tiger-less” bio-reserves, which includes 1,700 sq km of Mondulkiri Protected Forests, 1,500 sq km of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, 2,000 sq km of Seima Protected Forests – a mixed evergreen forest, and 470 sq km of Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary.

Omaliss added: “First Cambodia has to be ready to stop the poaching and increasing the prey. We need to ensure these factors for promoting enclosure breeding.”

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