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India, Nepal & Bhutan initiate dialogue to reconcile human-wildlife interface in Kanchenjunga

Amitava Banerjee

Darjeeling: A regional dialogue for action to reconcile human-wildlife interface in the Kanchenjunga Landscape (KI) has been initiated between India, Nepal and Bhutan in Siliguri.

It is organised by Directorate of Forest, Government of West Bengal and ICIMOD.

Increased human-wildlife conflict and wildlife-related crimes have emerged as a major reason for the setback in conservation and has also emerged as a threat to many an endangered species.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has earmarked 6 transboundary landscapes representing different areas in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region. Some parts of India, Bhutan and Nepal fall under the Kanchenjunga Landscape (KL). The KL has a total area of 25,086 sq km including 14127 sq km in India; 5834 sq km in Bhutan and 5125 sq km in Nepal. The area is a biodiversity hotspot.

The KL includes at least 169 species of mammals and 713 species of birds. Around 20 species of mammals and 23 species of birds found in the KL are globally threatened. The KL is home to more than seven million people.

A 21-member joint team comprising delegates from the three member countries undertook a landscape journey from December 4 to December 8 to different pilot sites across the three countries to experience local issues related to human-elephant conflict through interactions with the local administration and communities and assess mitigation measures being practiced.

A Regional Policy Dialogue is underway in Siliguri from December 9 to December 13. The dialogue and workshop is aimed at understanding regional, bilateral and local issues related to human-wildlife conflicts and wildlife crimes based on which options for addressing these issues will be identified.

A road map will also be developed for specific action points to achieve transboundary cooperation for addressing human-wildlife conflict and wildlife-related crimes in the KL.

"The representatives of the three countries are holding threadbare discussions to draw up ways and means of mitigating these problems. The measures will be both short term and long term," stated Soumitra Das Gupta, Inspector General, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.

While the Bhutan delegation is led by Chief Forestry Officer Tashi Tobgyel; the Nepal delegation is led by Gopal Prakash Bhattarai; Deputy Director General, National Park and Wildlife

Conservation, Nepal.

NGOs, SSB and police are also taking part in the workshop. "Conservation of wildlife, reducing human-wildlife conflict and ending wildlife related crime has to be a well coordinated effort between the member countries" stated Animesh Basu of Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, an NGO.

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