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India says no to WB fund for tiger conservation


THE HINDU
July 26, 2009

Sariska (PTI): India, which is home to 70 per cent of the world's tiger population, does not need any fund, aid or expertise from the World Bank for conservation of big cats in the country, Union Minister of Environment Jairam Ramesh has said.

Mr. Ramesh said the country is self-sufficient to do the job with any outside help but added that the government was open to the idea of the bank funding for workshops and conferences aimed to boost conservation and protection of tigers whose population has dwindled to 1,400 in the latest head count.

"We do not need any money from the World Bank for the conservation of tigers in the country.

"Who else but we being the holder of 70 per cent of the world's tiger population could know the problems better. We don't need any help," the minister said at the two-day all India meeting of field directors which concluded here on Sunday.

"However, the government is open to the idea of World Bank's funding for the purpose of holding conferences and workshops aiming to boost the tiger conservation," he said while informing that India will host World Tiger Summit next year in November or October.

Conservationists strongly feel that the World Bank's move to invest in tiger protection programme is just an attempt to "meddle" with the India's green efforts given its huge investments in several developmental projects such as dams which will damage wildlife habitat.

"If past experiences of the World Bank's involvement in conserving wildlife in India are anything to go by, it will be wiser not to allow it to meddle in the affairs of tigers in the country.

"The government does not need the bank's money or expertise," said wildlife expert K Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Mr. Ramesh said tiger population in the wild are more in India, Russia, China and Southeast Asia, but the country has the maximum tiger population at 1,400, which is not very encouraging though.

He said at the World Tiger Summit next year tiger experts from across the globe such as Global Tiger Initiative will congregate to deliberate on the issues pertaining to conservation of the striped cat.

"We just cant sit quiet, Tiger-range states need to do more to protect habitat and combat poachers, stop usage of tiger parts.

"Intelligence gathering and coordination are the key while looking at the threat posed to the tigers due to various reasons such as habitat destruction and poaching besides man-animal conflict," the minister added.

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