South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) supported to organize a ‘Reconciling human-wildlife interface in Kangchenjunga Landscape: Regional Dialogue for Action’ on 9-11 December 2018 in Siliguri, India. It was organized by West Bengal Forest Directorate and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in collaboration with SAWEN and other organizations. The program aimed to understand regional, bilateral and local issues related to human-wildlife conflicts and wildlife crime; and based on which identify options for addressing these issues as well as develop a road map with specific action points to achieve transboundary cooperation for addressing human-wildlife conflict and wildlife crime issues in the Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL).
Addressing the delegates of the event, Dr. Eklabya Sharma, Deputy Director General of ICIMOD, said: “There are numerous challenges in the Landscape which is transboundary in nature; human-wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade, inter-species spread of disease, human induced forest fires, to name a few. The commitment of Bhutan, India and Nepal to work together on these shared transboundary issues could serve as a great example for other countries and regions of the world to do the same.”
A press release issued by ICIMOD said ‘recognizing the transboundary nature of these challenges, government, research institutions, and civil society representatives of Bhutan, India, and Nepal, who share this landscape, have come together to outline a strategic regional roadmap for cooperation in consonance with each Nation’s priority for conservation and enhancing livelihoods of its citizens.’ The KL is one of the biodiversity hotspots with total area of 25,086 sq.km of which India has 14,127 sq.km share, followed by 5834 sq.km of Bhutan and 5125 sq.km of Nepal.
“Human-wildlife conflict is without doubt a major challenge for all three countries, but illegal trade in wildlife is also an important issue which needs to be addressed collectively by our three countries,” said Mr. Tashi Tobgyel from the Department of Forests and Park Services, and the leader of the Bhutanese delegation.
Dr. Soumitra Dasgupta, Inspector General of Forests (Wildlife), from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India said, “Kangchenjunga Landscape is an extremely important global biodiversity hotspots and we share this landscape between three countries. Wildlife does not understand political borders and for communities in the forefront of human-wildlife conflict, it is a stressful situation.”
Mr. Gopal Prakash Bhattarai, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and SAWEN focal person of Nepal, who led the official delegation from Nepal, stressed, “There is an urgent need to collectively monitor, study and share information in a timely manner about movement of wildlife and intelligence of illegal wildlife trade in the landscape. There is also a need to share best practices and replicate them appropriately.”
More than 30 participants were participated in the program including government delegates from Bhutan, India and Nepal, representatives from civil society organizations, NGOs and SAWEN. The program came up with a road map comprising the actions to minimize the human wildlife conflict and combating wildlife crime in the KL region. The actions include formation of a joint team to reach out the local scenario of human wildlife conflict in detail and explore possible ways out; awareness raising on wider aspects of wildlife crime to the general public and others.