DIMAPUR, June 5 - Nagaland Principal Chief Conservator of Forests M Lokeswara Rao today said illegal wildlife trade in the North East is a thriving business with Dimapur-Imphal corridor becoming an important route for smuggling wildlife to Myanmar and ultimately to South East Asia and China.
Citing instances of wildlife trafficking in recent days, Rao said 62 pangolin scales and star tortoises besides a consignment of elephant tusks were seized by authorities in Kohima and Dimapur from wildlife smugglers.
In order to turn this tide, Rao, in his message on the occasion of World Environment Day today, stressed that more people need to understand the damage this illicit business is doing to the environment, economies, communities and security. “We must also change our habits and behaviour so that demand for wildlife products fall,” he stated.
He said more awareness means increased pressure on governments and international bodies to introduce and enforce tougher laws and combat those still willing to break them.
In an appeal to the people of Nagaland on the occasion, the PCCF said it is everyone’s duty to protect the wildlife. So people should refrain from purchasing wild meat and inform the Forest officials and police when they get information about wildlife trafficking. “Make Nagaland abuzz with sound of birds and allow wild animals, which are born free to roam free and live free,” Rao urged.
He expressed concern that illegal trade in wildlife is pushing many species of animals and plants toward local or global extinction and robbing us of our natural heritage. “The loss of any species, even at a local level, is an erosion of the biodiversity that underpins the natural systems upon which we all depend for our food security, medicines, fresh air, water, shelter and a clean and healthy environment,” Rao said.
“Slaughtered elephants lying in the African savannah with their tusks hacked off by poaching gangs; tiger skins with embalmed heads roaring silently from market stalls in Asia; the shells of giant sea turtles impounded by Customs agents before they reach their Western buyers. These highlight how the booming illegal trade in wildlife products is eroding Earth’s precious biodiversity, robbing us of our natural heritage and pushing whole species toward extinction,” the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests stated.
He said the killing and smuggling of wildlife is also undermining economies, fuelling organised crime, and feeding corruption and insecurity across the globe.
He pointed out that illegal wildlife trade has evolved into a complex activity and India being one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots has emerged as a potential source country.