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Bio­di­ver­sity Counts!
Obser­va­tions and opin­ions con­cern­ing zoos, evo­lu­tion, nature con­ser­va­tion and the way we treat/​support the ecosys­tems which are sup­posed to serve us.

201216Nov21:20

How a small coun­try can act big!

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 16 Novem­ber 2012 | mod­i­fied 18 Decem­ber 2016

Bhutan globeAlthough small in size and still to be con­sid­ered a devel­op­ing coun­try, Bhutan sets an exam­ple for the world to fol­low when it con­cerns pro­tec­tion of their cul­tural prop­erty. I am not talk­ing about the years when the human pop­u­la­tion of this lit­tle King­dom in the Himalayas was not sup­posed to know what hap­pened in the rest of the world. At the time, keep­ing the pop­u­la­tion iso­lated and igno­rant of all the progress achieved else­where made them docile and as a con­se­quence reign was easy. But when Jigme Khe­sar Nam­gyel, the incum­bent king, realised that it would be impos­si­ble to stop mod­erni­sa­tion at Bhutan’s bor­ders while appre­ci­at­ing devel­op­ment aid, things began to change. Tele­vi­sions were allowed and Bhutan broad­cast­ing com­pany was set up, which broad­ened people’s scope enor­mously and imme­di­ately. More and other con­tacts with the ‘out­side’ world were allowed, but their cul­tural her­itage was to be pro­tected for the greater good.

Within this con­text it is not sur­pris­ing why and how fur­ther actions were taken by the Royal Bhutan gov­ern­ment to pro­tect their cul­tural prop­erty. Con­sid­er­ing the increase of cross-​border travel and trade, accom­pa­nied by temp­ta­tions of the money involved, an increase of ille­gal trade of cul­tural goods and other crim­i­nal acts were expected. Besides becom­ing a mem­ber of INTER­POL in 2005 Bhutan, as one of the 13 tiger range coun­tries, endorsed the St. Peters­burg Dec­la­ra­tion on Tiger Con­ser­va­tion and Global Tiger Recov­ery Pro­gram (GTRP) in 2010 in Rus­sia. Although tiger con­ser­va­tion as a national pro­gram in Bhutan had already begun in 1996 , now it became Bhutan’s oblig­a­tion and respon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect their tiger and its nat­ural habi­tat for the world’s greater good. It was renown tiger con­ser­va­tion­ist John Sei­den­sticker who has said: “By sav­ing the tiger we save all the plants and ani­mals that live under the tiger’s umbrella.”

A tigress with cubs spot­ted at the bio­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor con­nect­ing Phib­soo Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary and Royal Manas National Park at an ele­va­tion of 1700 meter above sea level. The tigers in the area are under con­stant threats from poach­ers:



Stim­u­lated by the dis­cov­ery of a ‘lost’ tiger pop­u­la­tion in their moun­tains Bhutan gov­ern­ment took this respon­si­bil­ity very seri­ously and co-​organised and hosted the 2nd Asian Min­is­te­r­ial Con­fer­ence on Tiger Con­ser­va­tion in late Octo­ber this year in the cap­i­tal of Bhutan, Thim­phu. Min­is­ters from the 13 tiger range coun­tries dis­cussed key achieve­ments in imple­ment­ing the 12-​year strat­egy of the GTRP and also issued guid­ance on con­tin­u­ing momen­tum and ensure con­tin­ued high-​level polit­i­cal sup­port.

In addi­tion to this high-​level meet­ing Bhutan now offers to host an inter­na­tional con­fer­ence in 2013 on the pro­tec­tion of cul­tural prop­erty. This offer was pre­sented by chief of the Royal Bhutan Police, Brigadier Kipchu Nam­gyel, dur­ing his visit to the INTER­POL Gen­eral Sec­re­tariat head­quar­ters on Novem­ber 13. “The Royal Bhutan Police is com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing the cul­tural her­itage of our coun­try, our region and also the world, and work­ing with INTER­POL to host this con­fer­ence will help bring greater focus to a type of crime which affects us all as a soci­ety,” said Brigadier Nam­gyel.

Bhutan has already worked closely with INTER­POL, the world police body, in com­bat­ing wildlife and envi­ron­men­tal crime through Project Preda­tor, pro­vid­ing sup­port to a series of inter­ven­tions, includ­ing Oper­a­tion Prey ear­lier this year which led to nearly 40 arrests and the seizure of a range of wildlife goods includ­ing big cat skins, rhino horn, ivory and sea­horses in addi­tion to flora such as pro­tected orchid and cac­tus plants.

With ille­gal activ­i­ties in Bhutan hope­fully still in its infancy, Royal Bhutan gov­ern­ment is being proac­tive and sup­port­ive with their com­mit­ment to the global polic­ing com­mu­nity. So Bhutan may be small, it acts big!


(Source: BBC Earth News, 20.09.2010; Global Tiger Ini­tia­tive, 15.10.2012; INTER­POL Media release, 13.11.2012; WWF report Tiger Con­ser­va­tion Enhance­ment in Bhutan, 20022003)


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Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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