International training counters tiger poachers in Southeast Asia

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BANGKOK, Jan 6 – Global Tiger Initiative partners on Friday launched hands-on training for wildlife conservation professionals from national parks and protected areas in Southeast Asia with new patrolling technologies part of larger effort to protect tigers and other wildlife in the region.

The Global Tiger Initiative is an international alliance of governments, global NGOs, international organisations, the conservation community and the private sector.

The course is part of a scaled-up training initiative in high-priority tiger conservation areas under the Global Tiger Recovery Program adopted by the governments of 13 tiger range countries in St. Petersburg, Russia in November 2010.

Only about 3,200 tigers remain in the wild today, occupying increasingly fragmented patches of forest across Asia.

“Survival of tigers in the wild depends on the ability of the tiger range countries to deploy well-equipped professionals on the front lines of national parks and protected areas with technology that can put pressure on poachers and organised wildlife crime syndicates,“ said Keshav Varma, program director of the initiative.

Damrong Phidet, director-general of Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation welcomed US Ambassador Kristie Kenny, officials from the World Bank, Smithsonian Institution, Wildlife Conservation Society and over 30 wildlife practitioners, participating in the two-week training programme Jan 6-21 at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand’s central province of Uthai Thani.

Participants are from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The training focuses on sharing the best conservation practices to be applied in the tiger range countries. Modern patrolling technologies and management will be introduced, and is utilising global positioning satellite equipment, according to a statement released by the alliance.

Protected area management teams will also be introduced to new tools and strategies to help jumpstart implementation of the latest and most effective systems in their own countries, the statement said.

Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, a priority tiger conservation landscape and UNESCO World Heritage Site is the venue for the training programme, organised by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the World Bank Institute, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society.