The nine-nation regional investigative support meeting to be held at Bhutan’s Paro is set to put pressure on China to put barriers on the illegal trade of wildlife products smuggled from different South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
China is believed to the biggest market in the region for wildlife articles smuggled from Asia, mostly through Bhutan and Nepal.
The regional investigative support meet organised by the environment crime department of Interpol is bringing countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore on the table to discuss the strategy to curb wildlife crime.
As a follow-up meeting of Operation PAWS (Protection of Asian Wildlife Species), also organised by Interpol, the meeting at Paro would start on November 27 and would continue till December 1.
The meeting has come in the wake of the seizure of a large number of illegal wildlife articles including snake venom from different parts of North Bengal which has open and porous border with Bhutan.
According to Wild Life Crime Control Bureau under the Union ministry of environment and forests, the Siliguri corridor having close proximity with Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan has emerged as most vulnerable to the smuggling of wildlife articles. The articles are smuggled to China mostly through Bhutan and Nepal where transits are not regularised due to friendly relations with India.
Agni Mitra, regional deputy director of Wild Life Crime Control Bureau, eastern region, said, “The Paro meeting is likely to come up with operational planning to control the menace in the region.”
Of late, Interpol has given much thrust to control environmental crimes all across the globe and the regional coordination is what it feels makes the efforts to fight against the crime effective.
Though wildlife skins are mostly used in Tibet, the bones are used in preparing Chinese traditional medicines, senior forest officials said. The meeting aims to set up base of informers so that the transit of wildlife products and poaching is cut off at the ground level.
Plans are afoot to tackle and cerate pressure on China so that it puts at least some barrier on such trade, said Mitra.
The smuggling of rare species of tortoises by traders of India, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia through Dhaka airport is another concern for the Interpol and it wants all the regional countries to make concerted efforts.