Tiger Conservation Partnership to Hold First Smart Patrol Training Course in Nepal

A fundamental change in the conservation strategy to save wild tigers may save them from extinction. That change is taking shape in regional smart patrol training courses in Asia led by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Tiger Conservation Partnership--one of the founding members of the Global Tiger Initiative with support from the World Bank and partners. For two weeks starting today, teams of frontline staff from tiger reserves in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, China and Russia will learn how to adapt their conservation strategies to combat poaching, prevent tiger parts from entering the stream of commerce and other threats to tigers. Senior officials from the government of Nepal, SCBI, the World Bank and World Bank Institute, and other partners will participate in the opening of the training course at Chitwan National Park, Nepal Jan. 30.

The work we are doing with our partners in tiger-range countries will ultimately enable patrollers in tiger habitats to implement the most effective strategies to respond to threats, said Mahendra Shrestha, program director of SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership. This training course will strengthen vital defenses against illegal wildlife trade and trafficking. It will help participants develop new skills necessary to implement the patrolling system, in partnership with local communities, and then determine its positive effects on tiger populations.

Improving the capacity and effectiveness of law enforcement to reduce poaching is crucial for securing the remaining wild tiger populations. Management teams will learn strategies for building institutional support for the successful establishment of smart systems during the first week of the Smart Patrol Training.

After completing the training course, they will patrol their reserves using GPS technology, recording signs of poaching, encroachment, legal human activity, tigers and tiger prey. Patrol headquarters in each country will take the information and convert it into maps using Management Information System software. The maps will help patrollers identify hotspots of illegal activity so they can intervene.

The regional smart patrol training course for tiger conservation is the second course SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership has hosted in Asia this year in collaboration with the World Bank and other partners. The first course was held in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand. TCP is partnering with the World Bank, Nepal's Department of National Parks, and Wildlife Conservation of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, National Trust for Nature Conservation and the World Wildlife Fund Nepal Program to host the course.

In addition, through the e-Institute at the World Bank, participants as well as protected area managers from other tiger-range countries will be able to access the course materials online with on-the-job learning, peer exchange and practical exercises. The e-Institute helps scale up learning capacity-building by using an online platform to reach more practitioners and has a lasting impact by customizing global knowledge to local realities.

Financial support to the Smithsonian from the World Bank's Development Grant Facility under the Global Tiger Initiative is underpinning the Tiger Conservation Partnership, its training courses and core learning program. The 2012 installment of this grant will support launching a Core Learning Program for protected area management teams in the 13 tiger-range countries and collaborate with governments and other partners in developing Pilot National Programs for capacity building in wildlife management. Increased capacity in the protected area management will support the Global Tiger Recovery Program and its mandate of doubling wild tiger populations by the next Year of the Tiger in 2022. The grant also provides support for the newly established South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network, currently hosted by the government of Nepal.

The Tiger Conservation Partnership is a collaborative initiative of SCBI, working with the World Bank and World Bank Institute, partners from tiger-range countries and leading conservation organizations. The partnership is developing a core curriculum for protected area management and is organizing courses and workshops to aid tiger recovery efforts.

Media kits for SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership and the Global Tiger Initiative are available online. To follow the Tiger Conservation Partnership's activities, including smart patrol training courses, read the Stalking Tigers, Saving Species blog and check for tiger conservation updates on its Facebook page.