11/09/2009, 00.00
NEPAL – CHINA
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Beijing and Kathmandu against illegal trade in tigers and rhinos

Kathmandu sends the Chinese government a draft memorandum of understanding, which should be approved by the end of the month. Environmentalists call for “regional cooperation” that includes India.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal and China are set to sign a trans-boundary agreement by the end of the month that includes improving cross-border traffic, enhancing information sharing and curbing cross-border trade in endangered species, including tigers and rhinos.

Nepal forwarded a draft Memorandum of Understanding to the Chinese government, said Deepak Bohara, Nepali Minister for Forests and Soil Conservation. He stressed the urgency of strengthening control measures against this illegal trade. Unfortunately, “Nepal has become an important hub for illegal trade with China and India,” he said.

The bilateral agreement between the governments would strengthen formal mechanisms between the concerned authorities and favour stronger law enforcements on both sides.

Diwakar Chapagain, wildlife trade manager at the World Wildlife Fund, agrees—“high level regional cooperation” is very desirable.

Since 1997, India and Nepal have held informal bilateral talks and meetings to deal with cross-border trade and enforce control mechanisms, but illicit trade in body parts of Asian big cats and rhinos has continued unchecked due to lack of government-level commitment with China.

Mahendra Shrestha, programme director of the US-based Save the Tiger Fund, said that bilateral and multilateral mechanisms are needed to deal with illicit wildlife trade because “Wildlife trade is an inter-country issue and can be solved only through regional cooperation.”

The memorandum of understanding is the outcome of the Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop 2009 held on 27-30 October to encourage wildlife conservation. 

According to experts, only 3,500 tigers remain alive in the forests of 12 Asian countries. Without radical action, they could become extinct over the next 20 years.

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