India Establishes International Big Cat Alliance

India has approved the setting up of the International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA), which was first announced in 2023.

The IBCA which was proposed last year by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, will bring together about 100 countries to work on the protection and conservation of seven major big cat species across the world by conserving the landscapes they thrive in and restricting poaching, with a focus on Asia.

Globally, the ‘big cats’ include the tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar, and cheetah. Barring the puma and jaguar, the rest are found in India, with the latest—the cheetah—having been translocated under an experimental programme from South Africa to Kuno in Madhya Pradesh.

“India’s global leadership in tiger conservation has been recognized. The IBCA, which will be headquartered in India and to which India has already committed US$18 million (for five years) will lead initiatives to disseminate good practices in conserving big cats,” Union environment minister Bhupendra Yadav told reporters on Friday.

At present, there is a gap in many ‘big cat’ countries in resources, and in standardised practices and processes. There is no international body addressing the conservation challenges of big cats across their range of habitats.

The pioneering and long-standing tiger and other big cat conservation good practices which have evolved in India can be replicated in many other countries, Yadav added.

Under this, India plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with 16 nations, including Cambodia, to translocate one male and two female tigers and these nations have already given their written consent to be part of the IBCA.

There are 96 countries that harbour ‘big cats’ and the alliance is keen on other countries, conservation organisations, scientific organisations, businesses, and corporates interested in joining and supporting ‘big cats.’

The advantages of membership, an accompanying document noted, 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.

The 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 near the forests will also be encouraged and trained in developing eco-tourism and livelihood opportunities.