Asia experts plot anti-poaching plan

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The number of tigers in India is increasing again after decades of dramatic decline

Asian officials and wildlife experts are meeting in Nepal to discuss ways to end the poaching of endangered species.

Experts warn many regional countries must take urgent action or risk losing forever some declining populations, including tigers, rhino and elephants.

The five-day meeting, described as unprecedented, brings together officials from 13 countries across the Asian region.

Its host, Nepal, is the only country so far to succeed in eliminating poaching.

'Zero poaching'

Mike Baltzer, leader of Tigers Alive Initiative at WWF which is co-hosting the meeting, told the BBC that this is Asia's last chance to take decisive action.

"Asia is facing a poaching crisis which is emptying its forests," he said.

"There's been a massive spike in illegal wildlife trade linked to organised crime. The same syndicates who deal in drugs and arms are focusing on forests.

"It's a question of zero poaching or zero wildlife."

In terms of tiger populations, for example, Indonesia and Malaysia are seen as top priorities. Both still have viable tiger populations but are now being targeted by poaching gangs.

There is positive news though.

Last month, reports from India suggested a 30% increase in the country's tiger population, compared with 2010.

Nepal is also hailed as a model for other countries.

It has achieved almost zero poaching in recent years by working closely with local communities, sharing tourism profits with them and investing in anti-poaching programmes.