India to set up International Big Cat Alliance

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in news?
  • What is International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)?
  • Is India Home to All Seven Big Cats? 

Why in news?

  • The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) with headquarters in India with a one-time budgetary support of Rs.150 crore for a period of five years from 2023-24 to 2027-28.
  • Framework of Agreement of IBCA has been drafted largely on the pattern of International Solar Alliance (ISA).

International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)

  • Background:
    • During the Global Tiger Day event in 2019, PM Modi urged global leaders to unite against poaching in Asia.
    • He repeated this call during the 50th anniversary celebration of India's Project Tiger on April 9, 2023, announcing the launch of an International Big Cat Alliance.
  • About
    • The International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) is a global alliance that aims to conserve the world's seven main big cats.
    • It will provide a platform for the member nations to share knowledge and expertise and extend support to recovery efforts in potential habitats.
  • Aim: To work towards the protection and conservation of the seven major big cats — tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar and cheetah.
  • HQ: India
  • Membership
    • Membership to the alliance will be open to 96 range countries.
      • These are the countries which contain the natural habitat of these big cats.
    • The alliance is also open to other countries, conservation organisations, scientific organisations, businesses, and corporates interested in supporting big cats.
    • So far, 16 countries have given their written consent to be part of the IBCA.
    • In addition, nine international organizations, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International, have given consent to join the alliance.
  • Governance Structure
    • A General Assembly consisting of all member countries.
    • A Council of at least seven but not more than 15 member countries elected by the General Assembly for a term of 5 years, and a Secretariat.
    • Upon the recommendation of the Council, the General Assembly will appoint the IBCA Secretary General for a specific term.
    • A Secretariat
  • Funding
    • The first five years (2023-24 to 2027-28) will be supported by India's 'total grant assistance' ofRs.150 crore.
    • After that, the IBCA is expected to sustain itself through membership fees and contributions from bilateral and multilateral institutions and the private sector.
  • Activities
    • It will provide a platform for the member nations to share knowledge and expertise and extend support to recovery efforts in potential habitats.
    • Its major activities will include advocacy, partnership, knowledge e-portal, capacity building, eco-tourism, partnerships between expert groups, and finance tapping.
    • IBCA will also assist existing species-specific inter-governmental platforms to boost conservation efforts.
  • Benefits
    • The advantages of membership are a central common repository for technical know-how and a corpus of funds.
    • The alliance will strengthen existing species-specific intergovernmental platforms, networks, and transnational initiatives on conservation and protection.
    • Frontline staff in member-countries will be trained in eliciting local support for big-cat conservation, and research and development in wildlife monitoring.
    • Local communities living in the vicinity of the forests will also be encouraged and trained in developing eco-tourism and livelihood opportunities.
    • It recognizes the importance of integrating biodiversity policies with sustainable development goals (SDGs) to achieve holistic and inclusive conservation outcomes.

Is India Home to All Seven Big Cats?

  • Out of 7 big cats, India is home to 5: Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Cheetah
  • Royal Bengal Tiger
    • As per the latest Tiger Census conducted in 2018-19, tiger population in India has increased to 2967.
    • India now accounts for about 70% of the world’s tiger population.
  • Asiatic Lion
    • Gir National Park in Gujarat is the last abode for the surviving population of the Asiatic Lions in the world.
    • Since the late 1960s, population of Asiatic Lions has increased from less than 200 to 674 (Census 2020).
  • Leopard
    • It is estimated that 12,000-14,000 leopards occur in India, and the population is the most genetically diverse/outbred out of all the subspecies in Asia.
  • Snow Leopard
    • Snow leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.
    • In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas.
    • In 2021, there are about 7,500 snow leopards left in the world, out of which 500 are in India.
  • Cheetah
    • Cheetah had become extinct in India since 1952.
    • In September 2022, Cheetahs have been reintroduced in the wild in India as 8 Cheetahs were imported from Namibia.
    • They were released into the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh in November, 2022.

Q1) What is the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership union of governments and civil society organizations. The IUCN was established in 1948 and is the first global environmental union.

Q2) What is the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)?

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is dedicated to protecting the world's wildlife by directing its conservation efforts toward protecting endangered spaces and addressing global threats.

Source: India to set up International Big Cat Alliance | PIB | NDTV