Both countries to share actionable intelligence on illegal trade

India and China this week agreed to cooperate in sharing intelligence on illegal trade in tiger parts between the countries, which conservationists say is seriously endangering India's tiger population.

Chinese officials in the State Forestry Administration told visiting Indian counterparts in talks that they were open to exchanging actionable intelligence on wildlife crimes, also acknowledging that poaching and illegal trafficking were “the biggest threat” to wildlife conservation in the region.

The two countries have agreed to set up nodal officers to facilitate the sharing of real-time information, as well as initiate collaborative investigations into “the backward and forward linkages of wildlife crimes” and organised criminal syndicates operating in the region.

The delegation from India, comprising officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Wildlife Control Bureau and the Wildlife Institute of India, also discussed expanding collaboration in research, training and capacity-building during its five-day visit.

Real progress

Indian officials said the talks indicated real progress between the countries on an issue on which they have not always seen eye to eye. China in the past rejected Indian concerns that much of the poaching in the country was derived from the demand for tiger parts in traditional Chinese medicine.

This week, China also expressed strong interest in joining the Global Tiger Forum, an inter-government conservation effort led by India involving seven of the 14 tiger range countries.

Chinese officials also assured their Indian counterparts that they did not have immediate plans to lift the ban on domestic trade in tiger parts. Conservationists say lifting the ban would fuel the demand for poaching.

China has fewer than 20 wild tigers, but more than 5,000 animals bred in captivity on “tiger farms,” whose owners have called for legalising trade as a way of satisfying the demand for tiger parts.