$36m WB support for wildlife conservation | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 13, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 13, 2012

$36m WB support for wildlife conservation

Nepal, Bhutan and India will join the World Bank-supported project soon

Bangladesh and other South Asian countries will jointly implement a project for endangered wildlife conservation by preventing illegal trade of wild animals and ensuring better management.
The five-year “Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection in Asia Project” was launched at Hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka yesterday.
Bangladesh is the first to join the World Bank supported scheme and Nepal, Bhutan and India soon will follow suit. Other South Asian countries would also be included in phases.
The World Bank funds $36 million for the Bangladesh part while the government here contributes $3 million.
The Department of Forests will implement the project that planned to create a new wildlife crime control unit and hire additional patrol and conservation staff.
“This will be a milestone in regional cooperation for wildlife conservation in South Asia,” said Hasan Mahmud, minister of environment and forests, at the event.
“We cannot live without wildlife; it is crucial for protection of ecosystems,” he said, adding that population pressure and development activities have already seriously affected the wildlife.
Illegal poaching of tiger, elephant, deer, reptiles, bird, and damaging of corals are the most severe threats to biodiversity in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries, according to the WB.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal are home to over 65 percent of around 3,000 wild tigers of the world, and Bangladesh faces severe conservation challenges, it said.
Around 4-5 percent of faunal species and about 10 percent of floral diversity of Bangladesh have become extinct in the last century, said officials at the forest department.
“Now cross-border cooperation will help reduce illegal wildlife trade and conserve habitats across different countries,” Sanjay Kathuria, WB's acting country director, said.
He said regional cooperation has been very complex in South Asia, and this is the first time the WB has taken up such a project.
Once there were tigers in 17 districts of Bangladesh, but now they are found only in the Sundarbans, said Tapan Kumar Dey, project director.
The government under the project will design a national ecotourism strategy and plan of action for development of 34 protected areas and 15 prospective tourism and wildlife habitats.
A wildlife centre cell will be set up to train forest officials, students, researchers and the people. A virtual regional centre will maintain regional communications, he said.
Andrey V Kushlin, programme coordinator of Global Tiger Initiative, said consumers of wildlife are outside South Asia and its demand is high.
Yunus Ali, chief conservator of the forests, the project's team leader Smith Pilapitiya, Professor Anwarul Islam of Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh, WB official Herbert Acquay spoke on the occasion.

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