Wildlife protection: India seeks $30-mn World Bank loan

With instances of poaching and illegal trade of animal parts increasing in the subcontinent, India has asked for a financial assistance of around $30 million from the World Bank for protection of wildlife and habitat management through regional cooperation with other South Asian neighbours.

The money, requested as a loan from the regional window of World Bank's International Development Association, will be used in building capacity to tackle illegal trade of animal parts in the region, which acts as a backbone to poaching activities.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has prepared an Environmental and Social Management Framework for the detailed wildlife project, through which the money will be utilised.

"The project development objective (PDO) is to assist India and other participating countries to build or enhance shared capacity, institutions, knowledge and incentives to collaborate in tackling illegal wildlife trade and other selected regional conservation threats to habitats in border areas," the project document says.

The government's Wildlife Crime Control Bureau will be utilising the funds to strengthen itself and also enhance sharing of information and technical expertise with other countries.

Stressing the need for a macro-level regional cooperation for tackling wildlife crimes, India has argued that the global wildlife trade is estimated to be of the size of $20 billion annually, third only after narcotics and illegal weapons trade.

South Asian countries account for 13 to 15 per cent of the world's biodiversity and so remain a lucrative target of the trade. "Victims of the trade include tiger and elephant, the snow leopard, the common leopard, the one-horn rhino, pangolin, brown bear, several species of deer and reptiles, seahorses, star tortoises, butterflies, peacocks, hornbills, parrots, parakeets and birds of prey, and corals. Poaching techniques can be extremely gruesome — the more egregious methods include skinning or de-horning live animals — and transportation of live creatures in inhuman conditions," says the project document.

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