Dhaka hosts Global Tiger Forum meeting



The first ever three-day assembly meeting of Global Tiger Forum (GTF), an international initiative to protect tigers, was held in Dhaka January 18-20, 2000. jointly organised by the government of Bangladesh and GTF, about 40 representatives from five member countries -- Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Bhutan  and nine non-member "tiger-range countries"  Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, China, Russia and Thailand  participated in the meeting. Besides, observers from different international organisations concerned with wildlife conservation attended the moot.

Bangladesh Forest and Environment Minister Sayeda Sajeda Chowdhury inaugurated the meeting which was also attended, among others, by Indian State Minister for Forest and Environment Babuial Marandhi and Bangladesh State Minister for Forest and Environment RN Ashiqur Rahnian.

Delegates attending the meeting decided to extend all possible assistance to Bangladesh in conserving her 362 endangered Royal Bengal Tigers and their habitats in the Sundarbans, one of the world's largest mangrove forests in the country's southwestern coastal region. The decision came in the working sessions of the GTF.

The GTF was launched as an international and inter-governmental organisation to protect the . dwindling number of wild Tigers at a confer- ence in New Delhi, India, in March 1994. Out of 14 Tiger range countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmer and Vietnam have joined the forum. Bangladesh entered into GTF coalition in 1999.

GTF officials said that the assembly reviewed different issues, including inclusion of new members into the forum, the status of Tiger habitats, population and threats across the world, illegal poaching and trade of Tiger bones and derivatives. The assembly also discussed strategies for trans-border co-operation, protocols and the terms of inter-state agreements to save the endangered Tigers, they said. Speaking at the GTF meeting, Babulal Marandi, the Indian Minister of State for Environment and Forest, said that a bilateral protocol between India and Bangladesh "I he signed shortly to conserve Tigers along the international border of the Sundarbans. He also referred to the Indian government's efforts for saving the Tigers by doubling the conservation budget, creating a strike force in major Tiger reserves, providing special allowance to staff and increasing the number of Tiger reserves to 25.

Location of Sundarbans

"Our future programme should he drawn up in such a manner that it can help in harmonious development of human beings and the wildlife together for the ultimate benefit of the civil society, not only for the present generation but also for generations beyond", said SC Dey, the GTF Secretary General.



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