Source: Unsplash/Paula Borowska
“Forest staffs are the unsung heroes.”
Poaching and animal trafficking is the second most illegal area after drugs. The ‘Save Tiger Campaign’ is a joint effort by Hardnews and Aircel after completing 6 years of partnership. Fifteen years ago, the number of tigers lessened to 1700 but today it has increased to 2226 in India. The serious concern of poaching is referred to as ‘Global Crisis’ by Barack Hussein Obama.
Tiger bones, Leopard parts, Orchids, Rhino horns are exported to other countries from India via Mizoram and Manipur. Poaching fetches a lot of money for smugglers pressurising the field officers. Special consideration should be given to Shanghai which is a hub of illegal trade.
A panel discussion on wildlife and Trade was held at India International Centre, New Delhi on 14th January 2016 organised by Aircel- Hardnews. The panel was inaugurated by Ms.Prerna Bindra, Journalist, Author and Writer for books on wildlife, Member of Wildlife (Uttrakhand) and Trustee of Bagh. Ms.Bindra went undercover to figure out the easy availability of ivory in Indian bazaars.
“I pretended to be ‘bride-to-be’ and asked for ivory bangles in a local market. I was shocked to see the easy availability of ivory which was sold illegally. I was horrified by the magnitude of crime.”
Mr.Vivek Menon, the Founder, Executive Director and CEO of the Wildlife Trust of India also showed up his presence. He is the Author and the Editor of nine books on wildlife with over 150 articles.
In 1989, two tigers were poached with their skin left behind. This started investigations and later ‘Tiger Crisis’ was declared. Despite all the Gandhian principles and philosophies, the illegal wildlife acts are still prominent.
“Things have changed and they will change more.”
Poaching is opportunistic in nature and it is niche targeted.
Dr.Samir Sinha was also one of the panellist members present. He was an Indian Forest Service Officer and has held several key posts in the forest department and is the chief Conservator of Forests, Dept of Forests, Uttarakhand and also the Field Director of Corbett Tiger Reserve.
“Six elephants were poached fifteen years ago in Jim Corbett and hexa blades and newspapers were found as clue”.
After spending a long time in that area they learnt poachers had contacts with high authorities who helped them in illegal activities. Earlier the profit of poachers was 3K to 4K and now it has risen to 3-4 Lakhs. The demand is more outside the country. Poaching is a very well-organised form of crime. Poaching comes as easy money and is a soft option for earning.
Dr.Shekhar Neeraj, an IFS officer heading TRAFFIC, India- an international wildlife trade monitoring body. He has an extensive experience of working in protected areas with the Indian Forest Service.
“Poaching is causing international security threat affecting 250 species of animals.”
According to him, if Chinese can demand tigers, the day is not far when the demand will increase in India too. The per capita income has increased for Indians and so the demand. It is of dire importance to curb poaching. Special care must be taken of not so popular species such as Monitor Lizard who are consumed openly in areas of Karnataka.
Dr.Aravind Chaturvedi, a 1991 batch police officer and is a deputy superintendent of police, STF. He has headed extensive experience of working in protected areas with the IFS.
“The weapons used for killing animals are sent through UP, Nepal, Punjab, Bihar.”
Poaching of Tigers and Leopards are done via Nepal. The problem is that the Indian courts treat such issues as weak and insensitive. The problem is at the prosecution level. The proofs in wildlife cannot be gathered and then starts the problem.
Dr.S.K Khanduri, Indian Forest Service who is currently serving as Inspector General of Forests(Wildlife) in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt of India.
“There are three factors affecting the issue- poaching, demand and supply.”
Poachers in NE states use modern weapons for killing. The opportunities are better outside India. The problem is such issues are handled only in state level which does not suffice the requirement for curbing it.
The thing of poaching in India is that we lack institutional mechanism. We should be working when there is a problem and not when there is no problem.