World Bank Financing to conserve and protect Wildlife in Bangladesh

Dhaka, June 02, 2011 –

The Govt. of BD today signed a US$ 36 million credit agreement with the World Bank for the project “Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection in Asia”(SRCWPA). The regional project will address cross-border illegal wildlife trade through regional cooperation and capacity building, and support the country’s initiative for habitat protection and management for wildlife in general and tigers in particular. South Asia is home to 13-15% of the world’s biodiversity as well as some to the most endangered species on Earth. Habitats across Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal are home to over 65% of the 3,000 or so remaining wild tigers. The rich biodiversity of south-east asia has also made it a lucrative target of illegal wildlife trade. It has been realized that no single country is able to manage the threats of poaching and illegal wildlife trade by its own. As wildlife are poached in one country, stockpiled in another, and then traded beyond the South-Asian region. So, the main challenges include – 1. Inadequate coordination mechanism; 2. Lack of communication, and 3. Weak administrative arrangements for interaction across borders. The World Bank, supporting a regional project, has unveiled the information mentioned, through a recent statement. The Washington-based lender said that the BD Govt. has joined the present phase of the project named, “Strengthening Regional Cooperation in Wildlife Protection in Asia (SRCWPA)” to conserve wildlife and tackle illegal wildlife trade. Nepal and Bhutan have also joined the project and it is expected that India may be joining soon, it stated. According to World Bank, the project is expected to bring about regional collaboration in combating wildlife crime through strengthened legislative and regulatory frameworks, well equipped specialized agencies, as well as relevant training and awareness programs for staffs across the range of agencies that contribute to the enforcement of wildlife laws and regulations. The project will also fill crucial knowledge gaps in addressing the regional threats to conservation, by creating a network including scientists and practitioners in wildlife conservation in South Asia. This will expand the scope and quality of research in wildlife conservation needed to develop a common response against illegal wildlife trade and address other regional conservation issues, said the World Bank. It said, BD Forest Dept. is implementing a $36 million US Dollar program focusing on Bangladesh as a part of the regional project. In addition to strengthening the capacity of Wildlife Circle, the bank said that the project will also establish a Wildlife Center to undertake training, research, education, and awareness on the issues of wildlife conservation and protection. The BD Forest Dept. is set to launch a new police force to protect wildlife in response to the sharp rise in poaching and exotic animal smuggling. The Conservator of Forest, Dr. Tapan Kumar told AFP, that the 300 member Wildlife Crime Control Unit (WCCU) will be deployed in July 2010, as a part of a $36 million World Bank funded project aimed at protecting native endangered species. Most of the unit will be stationed at Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to the critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger; the force will be equipped with modern weaponry and 38 patrol boats, he said. Moreover, officials are concerned that the wildlife smuggling is increasing, and the Thai customs authorities announced last week that they had seized 450 endangered Star Tortoises smuggled into the country on a flight from Bangladesh. According to the forest dept., eitht aminal species have become extinct in BD in the recent decades and almost all its native wildlife is now classed as critically endangered due to poaching and other threats.

Source: AFP,”Bangladesh creates anti-poaching police force”, Google News, June 07, 2011.