India to be a co-chair of regional forum to conserve wildlife habitats

NEW DELHI: After successfully increasing population of wild animals such as tigers, lions and leopards through protecting their habitats, India will be the co-chair of the IUCN-supported Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) for three years and it would, in this capacity, assist other Asian countries in managing their protected areas.

The APAP is a regional platform to help governments and other stakeholders to collaborate for more effective management of protected areas (PA) in the region. The APAP currently consists of 21 members from 17 countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The APAP, formally launched at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Australia in 2014, is chaired by IUCN Asia and co-chaired by an APAP country member. India will replace South Korea which held this position for three years till November, 2020.

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“As co-chair, India will play a pivotal leadership role in addressing and assisting the countries of Asia Region on conservation agenda and ‘protected area management’ at country as well as transboundary cooperation levels,” said Vivek Saxena, country representative, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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He said, “India has a number of success stories such conservation of tiger, elephant, Asiatic lion, snow leopard, Great Indian Bustard, Indian Gangetic Dolphin and a number of other flagship species which can be showcased at international level through the platform of APAP.”

India had in December released its leopard population estimates, showing an increase of 62% in its number in four year – from 7,910 in 2014 to 12,852 in 2018. Similarly, it recorded 29% increase in population of Asiatic Lions, living in Gujarat Gir Forest, in the past five years – from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020.

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In 2019, the country had released population data of tigers showing an increase of 33% in the number of big cats – from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018, making India a home to 75% of the tiger’s global population.