India bhutan wildlife MoU on anvil

Indo-Bhutan team up for conservation
- Centre plans to sign MoU to save wildlife

Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan. Telegraph picture

Guwahati, Aug. 4: The Centre is inching towards signing an MoU on wildlife cooperation with Bhutan.
A source said a draft MoU highlighting the areas of cooperation and the way for implementation had been prepared.
“It will take some time but this is going to happen. Relations with Bhutan have always been at the best and in wildlife sector it is improving,” the source said.
At present, India has an MoU with Nepal on controlling transboundary illegal trade in wildlife and conservation, apart from a protocol on tiger conservation with China.
The Union ministry of environment and forests had asked the Wildlife Institute of India to identify and prioritise transboundary protected areas for effective bio-diversity conservation.
Five transboundary sites were prioritised, of which Manas, that shares a boundary with Bhutan, was one.
“A large, contiguous area of protected ecosystem will be of benefit to a variety of species that range across the border and transboundary-protected area is a major issue in conservation,” the dean of WII, V.B. Mathur, said.
Manas forest officials said cooperation between the managers and staff of the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan was very strong as they visit each other to exchange information.
While Manas has been declared out of danger, the officials said it was time for Bhutan to nominate Royal Manas as a World Heritage Site, which will help both the sides.
The issue of transboundary between both the countries was discussed at a meeting in Guwahati on Sunday where the additional director-general (wildlife) of Union ministry of environment and forests, Jagdish Kishwan, said the Centre would provide technical assistance to Bhutan for preparing a nomination for the Royal Manas National Park for declaring it a World Heritage Site and assist in policy advocacy to achieve a favourable result.
“This will also show a greater level of recovery of Manas (India) after its removal from the danger list. It will give an advantage to Bhutan when it applies for the World Heritage Site status,” Kishwan said.
Both Bhutan and India have just completed camera trapping of tigers, covering a total transboundary area of 50,000 hectares.
The 2011 monitoring mission report on Manas said the continuity of the Indo-Bhutan Manas Tiger Conservation Landscape was of major importance for India’s national tiger population, as it provided habitat to a tiger source population that could potentially reinforce other tiger populations in the country.
It also asked India to conduct a joint feasibility study with Bhutan on a possible transboundary extension of the site.
“Other wildlife, including golden langur, gaur and elephants, also benefits from this continuity. It is likely that the recovery of the park’s wildlife population depends heavily on ability of animals to move freely between the two national parks,” the report said.
A team of experts from the International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India organised a capacity-building programme on wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and a workshop on prevention of illegal wildlife trade in Bhutan in the second week of July for initiating trans-border cooperation for conservation of wildlife in both the countries.


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