KATHMANDU (AFP) - Thirteen countries which are home to the world's dwindling population of wild tigers Friday agreed to establish an intelligence-sharing network to fight traffickers, concluding an anti-poaching conference in Kathmandu.
Around 100 experts, government and law enforcement officials attended the five-day summit, co-hosted by Nepal and conservation group WWF to hammer out a regional plan to fight poaching in Asia.
"We cannot allow wildlife crime to continue to wrap its tentacles deeper into the region," said Tikaram Adhikari, director general of Nepal's department of national parks and wildlife conservation.
"Our individual efforts may win us a few battles, but we can only win the war only if Asia presents a united front to stop the poaching, end the trafficking and wipe out demand," Adhikari said in a press statement.
Nepal has twice been recognised for going a full year with no poaching incidents involving tigers, while the population of the endangered cats rose almost two thirds between 2009 and 2013.
David Lawson of WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative said the network of national liaison officers would "help countries communicate better with each other, build trust and deepen cooperation which is essential to win the fight against poachers".
"Asian governments need to recognise that we are in the midst of a poaching crisis and that this theft of natural resources must be stopped," Lawson told AFP.
Decades of trafficking and habitat destruction have slashed the global tiger population from 100,000 a century ago to approximately 3,000, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Poachers hunt the animal for its bones, which used to be an ingredient of traditional Chinese medicine, its pelt, which can fetch up to US$16,000 (S$20,004) on the black market, and its penis, believed to increase male sexual performance.
Countries with tiger populations - Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam - in 2010 launched a plan to double their numbers by 2022.