Cross-border cooperation with India important for Sundarbans tiger conservation: Environment Minister

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Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin said that cross-border cooperation with India will play an important role in tiger and leopard conservation as India’s tiger and leopard habitats are connected with Bangladesh. He also said, considering the importance of conservation of seven big cat species in the world and two endangered big cat species in Bangladesh, we support in principle the formation of International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA) with the membership of countries that harbor these species. The environment minister said this at a session held after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Conference on Tiger Conservation organized as part of the 50-year celebrations of Project Tiger at Mysore University in Karnataka, India on Sunday evening. The Environment Minister said that the Bangladesh government is working with the determination to double the number of wild tigers by achieving the target of zero poaching with the active participation of local communities. It is hopeful that tiger numbers have started to rise. He said, the government has taken several significant initiatives to conserve our national animals, including other wild species. A new clause in the constitution to protect and enhance biodiversity, wetlands, forests and wildlife; The Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012 has introduced a provision of 2 to 7 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 million for tiger poaching. Shahab Uddin said the Bangladesh government is implementing the National Tiger Recovery Program (2022 to 2034) and the second generation Bangladesh Tiger Action Plan (2018-2027). These include tiger surveys; genetic studies; Smart patrolling and monitoring by drones inside the Sundarbans; Capacity building program for frontline staff of forest department as well as local communities to ensure protection and conservation of Sundarbans and Bengal Tiger. The minister said that Bangladesh and India had signed a protocol in 2011 to conserve the Royal Bengal Tiger in the Sundarbans through strengthening cooperation. The minister said, to reduce tiger-human conflict, our government has formed Village Tiger Response Teams, Co-Management Committees and Community Patrol Groups to engage local communities in tiger conservation activities. The Compensation by Wildlife Rules, 2021 provides for a compensation of up to Rs.3 lakh for a person killed by a tiger. A Wildlife Crime Control Unit has been formed under the Forest Department to curb illegal wildlife trade. The Sheikh Kamal Wildlife Center has been established as a center of excellence for wildlife education, research and training. The forest minister said that if international cooperation increases, it will be easier to make government initiatives to save the Bengal tiger and other wild animals a success. It is to be noted that earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA) to focus on the protection and conservation of the world’s seven big cat species such as tigers, lions, leopards, snow leopards, puma, jaguars and cheetahs. Environment and Forest Ministers of the countries that have sheltered these species were present in this event.

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