South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) in collaboration with the Government of Nepal and WWF Nepal organized "Training on Wildlife Crime Detection to Armed Police Force of Nepal" on 15-17 May 2019 in APF Headquarter, Kathmandu, Nepal. The major objective of the training was to capacitate the APF Officials in wildlife crime detection with focus in wildlife parts and products identification. Earlier, similar training was provided to 30 APF officials in June 2016.
The three-day training program was started with a brief inauguration ceremony. The inauguration program was chaired by Mr. Gopal Prakash Bhattarai, SAWEN Focal Person of Nepal and Deputy Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) in presence of the chief guest Mr. Ram Sharan Paudel, Additional Inspector General (AIG), Armed Police Force (APF), Nepal. In the inauguration program, Mr. Pradeep Bhattarai, Senior Environment Officer of SAWEN, welcomed all the participants and requested the participants to fetch maximum knowledge from the resource persons. Dr. Ghana Shyam Gurung, Country Representative of WWF Nepal, recalled the recent report from United Nations about extinction of species due to human causes and requested the participants to give the fullest to combat illegal wildlife trade (IWT) especially in the border areas.
The program was jointly inaugurated by the chief guest and the chairperson of the ceremony. The chief guest Mr. Ram Sharan Paudel, AIG, APF Nepal, acknowledged the support and extended sincere thanks for organizing this kind of training to the APF officials. He further gave direction to the trainees to extract more information from experts and extend the same in respective units.
With brief remarks by the chair Mr. Gopal Prakash Bhattarai, SAWEN Focal Person of Nepal and DDG of DNPWC, the inauguration program was completed. Mr. Bhattarai shared the Nepal's commitment in doubling the tiger, zero poaching and urged the participants to play crucial role as they are deputed in border areas and most of the illegal wildlife trade occurred in the border areas. He also requested to increase the hunger of knowledge in wildlife crime prospects through the training and work out to minimize the negative impact of IWT.
Twenty-eight participants from Chitwan, Makawanpur, Dhading, Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur districts and APF headquarter were participated in the training. Three days training covered biodiversity conservation prospects in Nepal, global/regional/local wildlife crime scenario, institutional mechanism in controlling wildlife crime, modus operandi, legal provisions, and importantly identification of wildlife parts and products with special reference to Nepal. A group discussion was carried out as part of the training to gather information on major issues faced earlier in relation to wildlife crime; experience, if any, in wildlife parts/products seizure; training content; role of APF; and way forward; from the perspective of APF. The discussion was fruitful to collect the views from the participants and shaping up course content in coming days.
During the training, participants gathered knowledge on various aspects of wildlife crime ranging from the basic of protected area systems and protected species; wildlife crime; major illegally traded species; controlling mechanism such as institutional, legal; interventions from law enforcement agencies; identification of wildlife derivatives; legal provisions and more. Field visit to national forensic science laboratory and hands on experience of morphological identification tips to the participants was one of the highlights among the participants. They learnt about major illegally traded species through Nepal and observe the distinguishing features of the commodities.
A closing program was held in the chairpersonship of Mr. Man Bahadur Khadka, Chief Enforcement Coordinator of SAWEN and Director General of DNPWC and in presence of the chief guest Mr. Narayan Babu Thapa, AIG, APF Nepal, along with high level officials including Deputy Inspector General, Senior Superintendent of Police. Mr. Vikash Khatiwada, Inspector, shared his experience of the training on behalf of the trainees and reflected about the knowledge they garnered during the three-day event. Mr. Pradeep Bhattarai briefly recalled the training, discussion output and feedback as well as requested all the participants to become the facilitator to spread the knowledge.
The chief guest Mr. Narayan Babu Thapa reiterated the importance of awareness and expansion of knowledge on wildlife crime issues in APF as it is guarding the Nepal border. He gave direction to the trainees for working hard with informed knowledge to wipe out such heinous crime which affects our living environment and erase the label of 'transit point of illegal wildlife trade' tagged in Nepal. The chief guest awarded the "Certificate of Participation" to all the participants.
Closing the program, Mr. Man Bahadur Khadka highlighted that wildlife only has the value when they are alive and requested the participants to deliver their best in the field. Mr. Khadka highlighted the importance of mother nature and shared that we cannot live without nature but nature can. He has extended sincere thanks to the Government of Nepal, APF and WWF Nepal for their support and assured the continuation of such capacity building programs in future.