What do conservationists dream of? What would non-profit groups like more than anything? To find a new line of work because poaching is no longer a threat.
Nepal has claimed to have accomplished just that. For 365 days, there has not been one tiger, rhino or elephant killed via poaching. In 2012 only one rhino was lost, and in 2011 there were no animals lost. It seems almost too good to be true.
The Tiger population has increased over the last four years from 121 to 198; and in a 2011 census rhinos have increased from 425 to 534.
You can’t argue with the numbers. So what is Nepal doing differently?
There has been collaboration on all fronts.
Through community education and incentives, the people have learned to appreciate and value the wildlife. 50 cents per dollar of tourism actually goes straight to the people. This financial benefit makes the rhino, tiger and elephant more valuable ALIVE.
In addition, it gives the people a sense of pride and ownership over their wildlife, which in itself serves as a deterrent to poaching within the community. No man wants to be known as the one who took away money from his village by poaching.
Nepal has put more rangers on the ground. Today, according to BBC, at least a thousand Nepalese soldiers patrol Chitwan from more than 40 posts. But perhaps most importantly the government has empowered those rangers.
According to John Sellar, an organized crime consultant,
“Nepal’s forest law empowers district forest officers and chief wildlife wardens to deal with offenders and impose prison sentences of up to 14 or 15 years.
“Whilst this scenario might seem at odds with other judicial systems,” Sellar says, “probably its greatest advantage is that it means that any poacher who is caught can expect to be dealt with much quicker than in other countries suffering high levels of poaching, where court systems regularly have lengthy backlogs and where, currently, insufficient deterrence is present.”
Strong Leadership and Cooperation
Nepal’s prime minister chairs the national wildlife crime control bureau. The government also has positive partnerships with WWF, National Trust for Nature Conservation, and has been supportive of the Global Tiger Initiative.
Nepal is the poster country for what’s working. Being sandwiched between wildlife trafficking giants China and India, this is no small feat. Surely South Africa and other countries can learn from them.
“We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.” -Bill Clinton