India, Nepal ink pact for management of forests along border

The two countries will also co-ordinate implementation of their national action plans to protect rhinos and elephants, besides tigers. The pact, which was the outcome of a consultative meet held in Kathmandu on July 6 and 7, also envisages capacity-building of personnel concerned.

The resolution was signed on July 29 between senior officials of National Tiger Conservation Authority and Nepal's Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation. The key trans-boundary areas to benefit are Sukhlaphanta- Lagga Bagga-Pilibhit, Bardia-Katerniaghat-Khata, Banke-Suhelwa, Jhapa-Darjeeling and Kosi-Tappu.

Regular consultative meetings will be held between the two countries to review progress and plan future strategies. In the past, porous borders have led to smuggling of protected wildlife species and products out of the region and the new collaboration could help in better exchange of intelligence inputs between the two neighbours to curb illegal wildlife trade.

Items smuggled from India to Nepal include animal parts such as tiger, leopard, snow leopard and otter skin, pangolin scales, Yarsa Gumba (plant-insect) and Red Sanders.

"With illegal wildlife trade increasingly becoming a transnational crime, such inter-country agreements are imperative for ensuring adequate biodiversity conservation in South Asia," said Samir Sinha, Head of TRAFFIC India, an NGO involved in checking wildlife smuggling.

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