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16 countries to join International Big Cat Alliance: Govt

ByJayashree Nandi
Mar 01, 2024 03:27 PM IST

The 16 nations that have expressed interest in joining the alliance are Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria & Peru

Sixteen countries have given their consent to join the International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) as alliance members, environment ministry officials said.

The IBCA is headquartered in India and is aimed at conservation of seven cats. (Representative file photo)
The IBCA is headquartered in India and is aimed at conservation of seven cats. (Representative file photo)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from Switzerland; Science and Conservation International Snow Leopard Trust from Kyrgyzstan; The Amur Tiger Centre from Russia include nine partner organisations have also agreed to join the IBCA as partner organisations.

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The 16 countries that have expressed interest in joining the alliance include, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria and Peru.

“It is an initiative that will address transboundary conservation matters because saving big cats also means saving ecosystems in the 96 big cat range countries. It is also a matter of diplomacy and presenting India’s soft power that is why India has initiated this alliance among other climate related alliances that are already doing very well,” a senior environment ministry official said on Friday.

Also Read:Cabinet okays setting up of International Big Cat Alliance

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of IBCA with a one-time budgetary support of 150 crore for five years from 2023-24 to 2027-28.

The IBCA is headquartered in India and is aimed at conservation of seven cats including tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and the cheetah, out of these five --tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard and cheetah are found in India.

During his speech on Global Tiger Day in 2019, PM Modi had first called for an alliance of global leaders to curb poaching in Asia.

He reiterated this on the country’ 50 years commemoration of India’s Project Tiger on April 9, 2023, and formally announced the launch of an IBCA.

Large cats, as apex predators, are vital for biodiversity conservation, serving as flagship species.

There is growing global concern for their conservation, but poaching and habitat destruction persist, endangering big cat populations worldwide.

The rapid development of natural landscapes further fragments wilderness habitats, necessitating innovative approaches beyond traditional Protected Areas.

Preserving these habitats not only safeguards ecosystem services but also helps control pandemics and supports climate adaptation, a brochure on IBCA states.

The objective of IBCA is to establish a collaborative platform that promotes synergy, facilitates the widespread sharing of effective big cat conservation practices, and offers access to a centralized repository of technical knowledge and financial resources.

This aims to enhance habitats, bolster prey populations, and ensure the well-being of big cats, ultimately securing our future and mitigating the negative effects of climate change, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has said.

The IBCA action plan include advocacy/assistance in drafting big cat conservation strategy, plans and policies culminating in a National Level Plan for 10 years (2023-33) and strategic planning for beyond; E-Portal to offer 24x7 real time suggestions for big cat conservation projects; detailed project reports and sharing of best-practices and successful case studies; training programs for field officials/wildlife researchers/ policy makers; establishment / functioning of IBCA with headquarter in India among others.

While not related to IBCA, Cambodia and Kazakhstan are both pursuing projects to introduce Indian tigers in their landscapes.

The MOU with Cambodia is in advanced stages of action while Kazakhstan is yet to submit a proposal.

The last tiger of Cambodia was captured on camera trap in 2007.

Welcoming the initiative, Dipankar Ghose, senior director, Biodiversity Conservation, WWF-India said the country has shown immense political support for the species.

“India has shown incredible leadership in big cat conservation, particularly for tigers, by demonstrating tremendous political support for the species. Tiger numbers in the country have doubled recently, well ahead of the global Tx2 target timeframe. India has also successfully translocated a big cat species from one continent to another through the Project Cheetah. All these experiences will come in handy for India to lead the big cat conservation programme,” said Ghose.

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