Monday, February 7, 2011

International South Asian Wildlife Enforcement Network Established

Left to Right: Mr. S.P Yadav of National Tiger Conservation Authority; Dr. Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan; Mr. Samir Sinha of TRAFFIC India

Last week, eight South Asian countries met in Paro, Bhutan where they came to an international agreement in order to help curb the illegal wildlife trade and enforce the protection of rare and endangered species. They established the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN). This network's main goal is to coordinate efforts to battle poaching and trafficking of threatened species in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The idea for this network was first proposed by South Asian environment ministers in 2008, in which eight countries had promised to boost regional cooperation in combating the wildlife trade and trafficking of bio resources, as well as wildlife conservation. The network was officially launched from 29th-30th of January. Due to the vulnerability of South Asia's biodiversity, SAWEN says it is focused on countering threats ranging from rampant poaching to the exploitation of animal parts in medicines, ornaments, and jewelry. At a recent meeting, experts from the eight member countries, the Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and TRAFFIC agreed on an action-orientated plan.

I'm very happy and proud to hear this news. With the establishment of SAWEN, the biodiversity of South Asia will have a bright future. That is, there will be a less chance for poachers and other operators of the wildlife trade to make further exploitations in the region. I'm also very proud to see that this network has received rave reviews from environment organizations. For example, Mr. Samir Sinha of TRAFFIC India has referred to the network as "a milestone" and CITES stated that it is "delighted" over its creation. I have a very good feeling that poachers and other environmental criminals will not stand a chance against the operators of this international wildlife enforcement network. However, I also feel that cooperation from ordinary people is also essential. That is, they should never buy products of endangered species and should educate one another about the dangers of the wildlife trade. This idea combined with wildlife enforcement would be a sure way to save the South Asian biodiversity.

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