Nepal has added a new milestone in conservation by achieving zero poaching of rhinos, tigers and elephants for the year period ending in February 2014.
At a time when tigers and rhinos are being rampantly poached around the world, Nepal's success resounds hope for wildlife.
It also underscores the mountain kingdom's commitment to build a more secure future for its iconic species. This is the second time that Nepal celebrates zero poaching, the first being in 2011.
"The success of achieving zero poaching throughout the year is a huge achievement and a result of prioritizing a national need to curb wildlife crimes in the country", said Megh Bahadur Pandey, Director General of Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
"A national level commitment is key to encouraging complementing efforts, right down to the grassroots, in order to address this biggest threat to wildlife not just in Nepal but across the world."
Improved protection and enforcement
A second year of zero poaching is the result of strengthened protection and enforcement efforts led by the government and supported by its conservation partners such as WWF and the National Trust for Nature Conservation.
National institutions such as the National Tiger Conservation Committee chaired by the Prime Minister of Nepal, trans-boundary cooperation being taken forward with India and China, and regional mechanisms such as the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network are top-line efforts being taken to curb illegal wildlife trade.
The heightened coordination between park authorities, Nepal Army, Nepal Police and local communities is also at the forefront of combatting poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
The newly developed Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the establishment of its 16 district cells together with the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has helped create the needed balance between central and local level enforcement to curb wildlife crimes.
A global model for reducing wildlife crime
Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal, said: "It is a matter of great pride to mark the first World Wildlife Day with the announcement of a year of zero poaching in Nepal. We are committed to work with the government, conservation partners and the local communities to redouble efforts to sustain this success."
WWF will also be honouring the work of nine organizations in Nepal that played an instrumental role in achieving this second year of zero poaching through the WWF Leaders for a Living Planet award.
They include Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Buffer zone management committees of Chitwan National Park and Bardia National Park, and the National Trust for Nature Conservation.
Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International, said: "We congratulate Nepal on reducing poaching to zero within its borders. This achievement serves as a model for WWF's goal for drastically reducing wildlife crime worldwide - with a combination of brave policy making, determined implementation and robust enforcement."