Authorities of Asian Elephant Range States of 13 countries are meeting in Kathmandu starting today. For the next three days delegates from Bhutan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam will share country-wise experiences and best practices, discuss initiatives, common issues and visions, explore interest points and propose actions, and set future priorities for the conservation of the largest terrestrial animal in Asia, whose worldwide population today is estimated to be only between 45,000-to-50,000, far less that its African counterparts.
Official opening of the event was done by the Hon’ble Minister Ramsahay Prasad Yadav, Ministry of Forests and Environment (MOFE), Nepal, accompanied by addresses from Dr Pem Narayan Kandel, Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Environment, Nepal, Dr Krishna Prasad Oli, Chairperson, National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal, and Dr Ramchandra Kandel, Director General, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal. Mr Vivek Menon, Chair, IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group, delivered the meeting keynote address.
Nepal's Ministry of Forests and Environment (MOFE) are the official hosts of the meeting with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and the Department of Forests and Soil Conservation being the lead organizing departments. IUCN/SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group are the official facilitating entity of the event, whereas NTNC is providing overall technical and logistics support on behalf of the host nation Nepal. Major funding for the event has been made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with partial funding from NTNC, ZSL Nepal and WWF Nepal.
Agendas of the meet will feature some ten sessions, each being chaired and facilitated by notable personalities and senior experts from the Range States. These sessions will cover topics related to: Country reports on Asian elephant conservation status, Management of elephant corridors as strategies for habitat fragmentation, Minimising impacts of linear infrastructures on elephant habitat, Strategies and best practices for managing human-elephant conflict, Mapping the distribution of elephants across Range States, Captive elephants health care and welfare, Emerging diseases affecting Asian elephants, Strengthening transboundary co-operation, Funding support for Asian elephant conservation, and Preventing illegal wildlife trade.
The meeting will conclude on 29 April with the launching and announcement of “The Kathmandu Declaration for Asian Elephant Conservation.” The declaration will entail a common vision to strengthen Asian elephant conservation and synergize national actions with international cooperation amongst the Range States for the long-term conservation of Asian elephants and set a clear roadmap for realizing the prescribed targets, actions and strategies discussed during the meet.
This is the third episode of the Asian Elephant Range States Meeting with previous ones being held in Jakarta in 2017 and in Malaysia in 2006. The meeting is being attended by Range State delegates and observers both in-person and virtually.