Dharchula (Uttarakhand): For effective wildlife trade control across the porous Indo-Nepal border, authorities from India and Nepal met today for a two-day workshop, in the bordering town of Dharchula in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.
The wildlife crime enforcement and legal workshop, organised by the Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) with support from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), aims to refresh cross-border cooperation, and understanding among relevant authorities to effectively control wildlife trade along the western Indo-Nepal border.
Dharchula, due to its proximity to Nepal as well as Tibet, is notorious as an important illegal wildlife trade hub in the northern India. The IFAW-WTI investigation on shahtoosh trade, documented in the publication ‘Wrap up the trade’, revealed Dharchula as one of the stops for raw shahtoosh wool being smuggled using porters from Taglakot (Burang) in Tibet.
“Illegal trade in wildlife articles such as tiger parts and shahtoosh wool, between India and Nepal, as well as between India and Tibet, takes place via Dharchula. Effective wildlife trade control around this region would go a long way in helping conserve the natural heritage of India as well as Nepal,” said Ashok Kumar, Vice-chairman, WTI, explaining the rationale behind choosing Dharchula as the venue for the workshop.
The participants including representatives from various enforcement agencies
– the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Customs, Army and civil administration – in addition to wildlife authorities and NGO representatives from India and Nepal, will also discuss strategies to tackle wildlife crime.
“Wildlife trade control is not only the responsibility of wildlife authorities. Role of other enforcement agencies like the SSB, ITBP and Army, especially along international borders, is absolutely vital to effectively control wildlife trade. Through this workshop we will be spreading awareness on wildlife trade, kind of articles traded and their identification, as well as wildlife laws, amongst these agencies,” added Kumar.