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This week, Bhutan shared news of the country’s goal to have its protected areas CA|TS-approved, in order to meet the highest global standards for conservation management.
Bhutan’s adoption of CA|TS is announced just as countries gather in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss the urgent need of safeguarding biodiversity for humans and wildlife at CoP13 of the UN Biodiversity Conference.
Bhutan places great pride in its wild tigers, and is one of 13 countries working towards Tx2 – a global goal to double wild tiger numbers by 2022.
An estimated 103 tigers live in the country’s pristine forests. Over two years, Bhutan’s national tiger survey installed more than 1,000 camera traps, capturing images of wild tigers as high up as 4,000 metres.
“Bhutan is committed to safeguarding our protected areas for wild tiger populations to thrive. Being part of CA|TS is a big step towards achieving this, by ensuring that our protected areas meet the highest global standards for conservation management” said Sonam Wangchuk, Chief of Wildlife Conservation Division in the Department of Forests and Park Services, Royal Government of Bhutan
Protected areas contribute to achieving global targets for biodiversity – and are key to doubling wild tiger populations
Few ‘protected areas’ in Asia are truly secured, leading to a drastic decline in wild tiger numbers as well as increasing biodiversity loss, in the last few decades and more.
Despite it being the smallest tiger-range country, Bhutan has stepped forward in fulfilling its commitment to environmental stewardship, by registering three of its protected areas under CA|TS – all of which are known to harbour wild tigers.
These are the Royal Manas National Park, Jigme Singye Mangchuck National Park and Jigme Dorje National Park. Together, they form a contiguous landscape across the whole country, extending from lowland subtropical jungles all the way to subalpine forests.
In particular, the Royal Manas National Park is connected at the southern border with India’s Manas Tiger Reserve, a World Heritage Site. To the north, it borders the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Between these two national parks and Jigme Dorje National Park’s 7000m elevation, Bhutan’s unfragmented landscape is crucial for conservationists to understand tiger movements and spatial layout in order to better guide tiger conservation.
“Committing to the CA|TS standards shows the determination of a country to save its tigers, and so much more. Bhutan once again proves to be a global leader in conservation by taking this action. When all the tiger range countries commit to CA|TS, we can be more assured that we are on the path away from the extinction of wild tigers,” Mike Baltzer, Chair of the CA|TS Executive Committee
By ensuring the integrity of protected areas within countries, and sometimes – across state boundaries, governments play a key role towards achieving the global goal of doubling wild tigers.