The 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRC) met for the second Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in Thimphu this week
All 13 Tiger Range Countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam) reaffirmed their commitment to double the number of tigers by 2020 and identified a nine-point action agenda up to 2014 called the “Thimphu affirmative nine-point action agenda on tiger conservation”.
The nine-point action agenda includes strengthening the front lines which comprises of enhancement of rewards, recognition and resources for frontline staffs in all TRCs over the next three years.
This includes in the form of numbers, institutional capacity, skills, tools, technology, infrastructure, operating costs, and insurance against loss of life and injury.
During the opening of the conference, one of the major issues discussed was on how TRCs are working on equipping frontline staff faced with increasing tension and work in the field.
The Program Director of Global Tiger Initiative, World Bank, Keshav Varma, said TRCs suffer in terms of flow of money that gets to front-line people such as park rangers.
“All parks should at least have a minimum standard of efficiency equipped to carry out a significantly efficient job, whether it is ecological, research, monitoring or it is fighting against illegal poachers and traders, or whether it is developing a good system of information and surveillance or park ecology,” said Keshav Verma.
Other action points include conserving tiger habitat, inside and outside protected areas, support TRCs with low tiger densities to launch tiger restoration programs, accelerate the flow of national and external funds to support actions on the ground, and develop a new partnership with business and industry.
The TRCs will develop new partnership with business and industry by engaging business and industry in habitat conservation, valuation of ecosystems, sustainable finance, and outreach to consumers and other stakeholders. The agriculture minister, Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho, said for tigers to survive good policies and legislations are not enough but there should also be good implementation, security and enforcement agencies.
He said the challenges conserving tigers are the availability of funds and how to better link conservation and protection of tigers with livelihood of people.
It has also been agreed that the TRCs will improve engagement and share the benefits of conservation with communities, making them partners in tiger and habitat conservation and expanding alternative livelihood programs.
The Thimphu Affirmative also includes developing and implementing comprehensive national awareness strategies and initiatives to instill pride and bring people closer to nature to counteract the negative impacts on tigers.
The countries also agreed to enhance and mainstream collaboration in management of trans-boundary landscapes and corridors, combating illegal trade and eliminate illicit demand through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.
Numerous delegates and participants representing the TRCs, donor agencies and international organizations attended the conference.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, it is estimated that Bhutan is home to about 150 tigers out of a total global estimate of about 3,200.