South Asian scheme launched to fight poaching

NEW DELHI, January 31, 2011 (AFP) – Eight South Asian countries have launched a regional scheme to share information on poaching and wildlife trafficking in a bid to protect dwindling populations of tigers and other rare animals. After talks in Bhutan at the weekend, the countries launched the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN), according to a joint statement from wildlife groups and the Bhutanese agriculture ministry.

“SAWEN will help Bhutan to link up with authorities and officials across the region to share good practices and resources to co-operate and co-ordinate actions to apprehend poachers and traffickers,” Pema Jamtsho, Bhutan’s Minister for Agriculture and Forests said in the statement.

Samir Sinha, programme head for anti-smuggling body Traffic in India, said in the statement that the launch of SAWEN by India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh was “a milestone.”

“This is an essential piece of a collective effort to conserve a region of outstanding biological richness and diversity,” he said.

Decades of poaching and smuggling have decimated the population of tigers in South Asia, with elephants and rhinos also under threat.

Tiger and eleph