GUWAHATI, Jan 5 - With the vicious circle of cross-border illegal trade in wildlife parts, drugs and arms assuming alarming proportions, the country’s elite border sentinel, the Border Secur
ity Force (BSF) has been exhorted by conservationists to play a pro-active role in the prevention of clandestine trade in wildlife parts that also paves the way for entry of arms and contraband drugs into the country.
Making factual presentations in a workshop on wildlife crime prevention organised at the BSF Frontier Headquarters in the city on Saturday, noted wildlife conservation biologist Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar and wildlife crime mitigation expert Rahul Datta, underscored the important role that the border sentinels can play in the prevention of trans-border wildlife trade.
Dr Talukdar, who is the head of conservation NGO Aaranyak and Chair of Asian Rhino Specialist Group of the IUCN, elaborated on the wildlife crime scenario in global and local perspectives and its link to illegal arms trade and insurgency.
He highlighted the importance of India being one of the 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world.
“North East India has different altitudinal gradients from floodplains to snow-capped mountains, which is considered a big advantage because it enables different types of habitats at different altitudes. The region is home to nearly 10,000 plant species, 980 bird species, 300 mammals, one of rarest primates on the earth, and 175 reptiles of which 40 are endemic and lots of other species, including amphibians and freshwater species,” he said, adding that because of its rich biodiversity, the region needed special attention in terms of resource documentation and conservation.
He urged the BSF to play a key role in the prevention of wildlife trade across the frontiers in close coordination with State police and Forest forces.
Making a detailed presentation on the illegal wildlife trade, Rahul Datta of International Rhino Foundation (IRF) raised alarm about the huge money involved in the global illegal wildlife trade that had now attracted direct involvement of hunting of endangered species like tigers and one-horned rhinos by organised insurgents armed with sophisticated weapons, besides well-oiled gangs with global outreach.
He presented pictorial evidence of trained and well-armed North East militants’ involvement in the killing of rhinos in protected areas in Assam, including Kaziranga National Park. He called for stricter vigil by the BSF deployed along the key frontiers of the country so that illegal cross-border movement of wildlife parts could be checked.
Over 50 BSF officers and personnel participated in the workshop that was organised by the Legal and Advocacy Division (LAD) of Aaranyak.
The officiating Inspector General of the BSF, Guwahati Frontier, KK Gulia said that balanced biodiversity was a must have for any country and the presentation made by the wildlife conservation experts “were an eye-opener as those highlighted how wildlife crimes had become a threat to the nation’s security for its link to illegal trade in weapons and drugs.”