The Year of the Tiger ends with high hopes for wildlife



The Year of the Tiger ends with high hopes for wildlife

The launch of the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SA-WEN) earlier
this week marks the beginning of renewed anti-poaching efforts 

Geneva, 4 February 2011 – The Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) today welcomed the creation of the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SA-WEN). SA-WEN brings together wildlife law enforcement agencies from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The aim of the Network is to improve communication, collaboration and coordination in the fight against wildlife criminals.

The formal launch of SA-WEN on 30 January 2011 came at the end of a meeting, held in Paro, Bhutan, which was opened by Dr Pema Gyamtsho, Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan. The CITES Secretariat was delighted to participate in the meeting, having been involved in the development of the Network since 2004. Joining delegates from SA-WEN member countries were representatives of non-governmental organizations (particularly TRAFFIC and WWF which helped facilitate the meeting), INTERPOL, the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, and the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network. The SA-WEN Secretariat will be hosted by the Government of Nepal.

It was particularly auspicious that many of the delegates had the opportunity to visit Bhutan’s most famous landmark, and the country’s most important religious site: the Taktsang Monastery, also known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. Perched on a cliff 900 m above the Paro Valley, it is, according to legend, the site where a Buddhist guru arrived in Bhutan, riding on the back of a flying tiger. What better way to mark the end of the Year of the Tiger and the beginning of a new era of wildlife law enforcement in South Asia.

South Asia suffers significantly from wildlife crime targeted at such species as bears, elephants, rhinoceros and tigers; not forgetting the illegal trade in timber and many rare forms of plants.

The CITES Secretariat is encouraged by the measures taken during the Year of the Tiger to conserve the remaining populations of this magnificent species, while noting that implementation of the many strong commitments made is where the focus must now lie. Among these have been:

- The Saint Petersburg International Tiger Forum

- The launch of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime

3 February marks the Chinese New Year and we enter the Year of the Rabbit. We leave behind us the Chinese Year of the Tiger – one in which the species probably received greater attention than ever before. And never before has it needed such attention so desperately.

For more information, contact John Sellar at john.sellar@cites.org