South and South East Asia represent one of the most biodiverse regions of the plant with tremendous biodiversity seen nowhere else in the world. Each country located in this vast area has varied agro-climatic zones representing unique terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, mesmerizing landscapes, majestic virgin forests, spectacular wildlife, and unimaginably rich biodiversity. The region is home to five mega-biodiverse nations of the world; namely China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. If Papua and New Guinea is also included; it is indeed one of the most spectacularly biodiverse part of the globe. The region is also characterized by rich ethnic and socio-cultural diversity, explosive growth of human populations, struggling economy, ethnic conflicts, poverty and political destabilization in different pockets.
As a consequence it has been a flash point of regional disturbances that has impacted relations between adjoining nations. Furthermore, this is also one of the biggest hotspot of the world with rampart poaching, illegal trafficking of wildlife and wildlife parts, major and minor forest products, drug and human trafficking. The massive illegal wildlife markets with several million dollar turnover per year in parts of Southern China, Hong Kong, Viet Nam, Indonesia and other areas is a serious threat to conservation of endangered wildlife and fragile forest ecosystems across South and South east Asia. This is a serious issue with cross border implications; and not just the problem one specific country. If the nations in the region do not cooperate actively with one another on the conservation front, very little success could be expected in terms of protecting the rich forests and wildlife of the region. Both SAARC and ASEAN groups could serve as important platforms to bridge the gap between the nations and cooperate and coordinate better in protecting their precious natural resources and biodiversity; and enhance better security along vulnerable international borders.
Saikat Kumar Basu,