Headline : India, Nepal and Bhutan Plan Task Force to Protect Wildlife
- The Governments of India, Nepal and Bhutan are considering having a joint task force for the Kanchenjunga Landscape, a trans-boundary region spread across Nepal, India and Bhutan.
- The joint task force would work for allowing free movement of wildlife across political boundaries and checking smuggling of wildlife across the Kanchenjunga Landscape.
- Apart from delegations of India, Nepal and Bhutan, representatives of South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network, were also present in the meeting.
- The joint task force will be part of the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI).
- According to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), 1,118 sq km of riverine grassland and tree cover were lost in the Kanchenjunga landscape between 2000 and 2010.
- 74 % of the area was converted into rangeland and 26% to agricultural land.
- Between 1986 and 2015, as many as 425 people were killed by elephants (an average of 14 human deaths every year) and 144 elephants were killed between 1958 and 2013 (an average of three elephants every year).
- Every few months, there are cases of elephants, rhino and gaurs and other mammals crossing over political boundaries, triggering panic among locals across the border and also posing danger to the wildlife.
- Considering the above issues, forest officials and representatives of non-government organisation of the three countries visited parts of the Kanchenjunga landscape and later held a meeting at Siliguri in north Bengal, where the need of a joint task force was extensively discussed.
About Kachenzenga landscape
- The Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL) is one of the six transboundary landscapes identified by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region.
- It stretches along the southern side of Mount Kangchenjunga.
- It covers an area of 25,080.8 km2 and spreads across part of eastern Nepal (21%), Sikkim and West Bengal of India (56%) and the western and south-western parts of Bhutan (23%).
- At the heart of this landscape, lies Mount Kangchenjunga (8,586 m), the third highest peak in the world, and sustains many of the vital Himalayan rivers and crucial watersheds.
- The KL is part of a ‘Himalayan biodiversity hotspot’ harbouring a significant portion of the world’s biodiversity.
- With 19 established protected areas, comprising 30% of the landscape, it contains more than 4,500 species of plants, more than 160 mammal species, 580 bird species, and 600 butterfly species.
- It is also home to 7.2 million people, some of whom are from unique ethnic groups found nowhere else in the world such as the Lepchas, the Walungpas, and the Lhop Doyas.
- This important transboundary area provides valuable ecosystem services that support the wellbeing and livelihoods of people living in the landscape.
About the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI)
- It is a transboundary conservation and development programme jointly implemented by the government of Bhutan, India and Nepal, facilitated and supported by ICIMOD.
- The initiative emphasises the transboundary landscape approach, advocated and promoted by the Convention on Biological Diversity, which recognises the importance of-
- Establishing habitat linkages among the protected areas
- Managing the ecosystems in entirety,
- Supporting the livelihoods of communities living in the KL.
- The initiative was conceived in 2012 to collaborate on common objectives towards effective conservation and sustainable use of resources within the landscape.
- A Regional Cooperation Framework was prepared for implementing the subsequent phases of the KLCDI.
- As an outcome from the process, a 20 years strategic programme has been developed with five years operational plan (2016-2020).
- The framework is as follows:
- The current initiative of joint task force is under the third phase of the programme where the countries are agreeing for creating and implementing the joint task force.
- The KLCDI Focuses on five main intervention areas:
- Livelihoods and climate change adaptation (socio-economic development).
- Community-based participatory ecosystem management (ecosystem wellbeing).
- Resources governance.
- Long-term monitoring.
- Regional cooperation.
South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN)
- It is an inter-governmental wildlife law enforcement support body of South Asian countries.
- The members include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- SAWEN was officially launched in January, 2011 in Paro Bhutan.
- It promotes regional cooperation to combat wildlife crime in South Asia.
- It focuses on-
- Policy harmonization
- Institutional capacity strengthening through knowledge and intelligence sharing.
- Collaboration with regional and international partners to enhance wildlife law enforcement in the member countries.
- SAWEN operates its activities from the Secretariat based in Kathmandu, Nepal.