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‘Motivated staff required in protected areas’
Correspondent

 
 KAZIRANGA, Nov 15 - Investigation of a crime by the investigators is an important intellectual exercise as it involves integration of many disciplines like Chemistry, Physics and Forensic Science. Mere collection of evidence may not be acceptable in a court of law. What matters most is how good the collected evidence is.

The above was the observation made by a senior judge of Gauhati High Court, Justice Hrishikesh Roy while delivering his inaugural address at a seminar on ‘Capacity Building Programme on Wildlife Crime and Protection of Endangered Wildlife in North East India’, organised by the Gauhati High Court at the Forest Convention Centre, Kohora on Sunday.

Justice Roy said that when information is received that a horn had been taken away by poachers, a part of the crime is left on the spot. He added that North East India has its own special challenges. In this case, it has to be dealt with properly, as is done in conventional wildlife crimes.

Noted tiger expert Valmik Thapar said that there is no second wildlife forest like Kaziranga National Park in India, but asserted that motivation of field staff through refresher training and top class welfare measures for the frontline forest guards are key to successful management of any protected area.

Thapar said that focus should be on intelligence gathering by the park managers in order to enjoy a good conviction rate, adding that quick action on delivering the information to the field staff is vital to prevent the wildlife crime. He also suggested steps like boosting up the local economy by income-generating measures that are strategically developed. This would definitely reduce man-animal conflict as inflation and economic depression lead to illegal acts by people, adding that local partnership is very important in any conservation initiative.

Expressing his views on the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Valmik Thapar said that the time has come to re-educate NTCA on the role of tourism in protected areas, suggesting that more and more areas should be made accessible inside the protected areas as it would allow more ears and eyes to check poaching activities inside the forest. He felt that the time has come to outsource tourism management with the participation of local stakeholders.

Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court Sanjay Upadhyay said that it would be important to understand the various laws covering wildlife and integrating the strength of wildlife legislations to have proper conviction, adding that there is a need for legislation for exotic species.

Ajit Singh from Rajasthan said that wildlife crime is a worldwide phenomenon and happens to be a flourishing illegal trade in the international markets. He said that there is heavy demand for wildlife body parts in China, followed by many South East Asian nations like Vietnam, Laos etc. Major loss of wildlife in the forests is mainly due to high demand and heavy prices of these wildlife body parts in the international markets.

Singh appreciated the efforts of the conservation team in Kaziranga for the increase in the population of Indian rhinos. He also informed that earlier there was a high demand for tiger skins and other body parts from Tibet. But due to the sincere initiative of wildlife conservationist Belinda Wright, who apprised Dalai Lama about the plight of tigers, the demand has reduced to a great extent.

The seminar was attended by experts from the legal fraternity, including Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, Justice Manojit Bhuyan and Justice AK Goswami from Gauhati High Court, who acted as the chairman of the day-long sessions. The seminar was supervised by the District and Sessions Judge of Golaghat, Robin Phukan and was organised in association with the State Forest Department, Judicial Academy of Assam and NEJOTI.

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