Resources Himalaya Foundation and Environmental Graduates in Himalaya successfully organized 117th series of Pralad Yonzon Conservation Forum (PYCF) with Mr. Kumar Paudel, IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group Co-Chair for South Asia. He gave a talk on “The Iceberg Theory: How to Understand the True Scale of Illegal Wildlife Trade”.
The talk started with Mr. Paudel comparing the illegal trade as the iceberg where only small portion is visible but underneath there is huge section which is not visible. So, a fully understanding of illegal trade is very important. Wildlife trade is an important component of biodiversity conservation as it provides economic incentives to people. He mentioned that legal trade can be found in the CITES report, but he questioned about the illegal trade.The incidences of illegal trade can be found worldwide through seizure reports, police reports and media coverage. Seizure reports are very important as it shapes the overall policy and practices of CITES by giving the information such as the species which are traded more and the destination of trade around the world. He explained that the level of threats of species can also be determined by seizure reports. However, there are some biases on these methods to determine the illegal trades.For instance, the official seizure reports from Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) of Nepal gives the seizures inside the protected areas only but not outside the protected area.Similarly, wildlife in the high priority list such as tiger gets more coverage reports compared to elephant, red panda and rhino. Similarly media coverage also plays an important role in illegal trade information in a country like Nepal where media holds great powerto influence decision and policy. But according to the study it was observed that certain type of newspaper covers only certain type of illegal trade for example,The Kathmandu Post only covers news about Tiger and Red Panda. Similarly, number of wildlife traded, number of people arrested and editors’ field of interest also plays an important role in media reporting. He further highlighted that illegal trade is covered as news only if it is related with high profile people. He concluded the talk by stating that the reliability of media reports should be evaluated while gathering information about illegal wildlife seizures. They should also be made aware about the status of wildlife, whether they are endangered, vulnerable or threatened. The presentation was followed by an interaction session between the guest speaker and the participants. The program ended with a vote of thanks from Dr. Nani Maiya Sujakhu, Research Fellow at Resources Himalaya Foundation.