SSB focuses on curbing wildlife crime; Organises a national seminar to highlight the role of inter agency cooperation
TRAFFIC India participated in this important seminar as an active partner, organizing a short play on the role of SSB and other agencies in curbing wildlife crime in India; showcasing TRAFFIC India’s wildlife sniffer dog training programme and its impact on detecting wildlife related crimes; and also by participating in a panel discussion on poaching and wildlife trade related issues.
During the seminar, Smt Archana Ramasundaram, Director General, SSB made an appeal to the audience to put forward strong and candid view about how agencies can coordinate and formulate a long term strategy for protection of forest and wild animals. She elaborated on the efforts of SSB in this direction and said that in 2016, SSB not only arrested 62 criminals in 60 cases but had also saved the lives of a number of Tokay Geckos and Sand-boa snakes. In the year 2017, which is in just eight months, 85 wildlife cases have been registered and 95 wildlife smugglers have been arrested by SSB. Apart from these, SSB has confiscated huge quantity of body parts of endangered species including deer, turtles, and elephant tusks.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Union Minister of Science and Technology, Earth Science, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Govt. of India, said that SSB has been assigned a challenging task of guarding open Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders and SSB is discharging its duties very efficiently. The Union Minister congratulated the Director General of Sashastra Seema Bal for organising this seminar and apprised that this initiative by SSB with sister agencies, NGOs and CAPF’s dignitaries is a great step towards the protection and preservation of wildlife. By organising such type of programmes there will be an increase in inter departmental co-ordination and crime against forests and wild animals will be checked. He also stressed that success stories about actions taken against the menace of wildlife crime should be highlighted. He requested the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) to organise co-ordination meetings to increase co-operation and co-ordination among enforcement agencies on regular basis.
Mr Ravi Singh, CEO and Secretary General, WWF-India participated in the panel discussion organised on the Role of Law Enforcement agencies in Combating Wildlife Crime. During the discussions he spoke about the need to upgrade technology of current systems to detect wildlife crime in a more effective manner. He talked about wildlife sniffer dog training programme run by TRAFFIC and WWF-India and how sniffer dogs need to be deployed for wildlife crime detection and prevention by enforcement agencies besides the forest department. He spoke about the need to strengthen wildlife forensic capacity of the country and suggested mobile forensic labs for identifying wildlife contrabands in transit.
Some of the key outcomes of the seminar that was attended by over 300 law enforcement officials from multiple agencies included – increasing awareness among the enforcement officials to prevent wildlife crime; extending the powers under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Indian Forest Act, 1927 to border security agencies; SSB to collaborate with WCCB to set up X ray facility and manuals for detecting wildlife contrabands in transit; coordination between all enforcement agencies to gather intelligence, prevent, detect and combat crime; create a common database of criminals to be shared among agencies; and conducting specialized training of the personnel manning the border regions for crime detection and prevention.
Dr Saket Badola, IFS, Head of TRAFFIC India adds, “TRAFFIC India thanks SSB, a nodal agency for guarding the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders, for acknowledging the grievous impact of wildlife crime and considering it a mainstream crime in India. TRAFFIC India also congratulates SSB for organizing this one of its kind seminar on the role of security forces in curbing wildlife crime clearly signaling the commitment of the organization in dealing with this menace. In the past, TRAFFIC India had helped organise various wildlife law enforcement capacity building programmes for the SSB officials and will be happy to extend knowledge and support for future collaborations. TRAFFIC India also recommends the use of wildlife sniffer dogs by the border agencies for detecting illegal wildlife contrabands. So far 43 such dog squads have been provided to the Forest Departments by TRAFFIC and these squads are doing wonderful job in locating hidden contrabands and nabbing criminals. Inclusion of these squads will further strengthen SSB’s counter wildlife crime strategy”
Smt. Tilotma Verma, IPS , Additional Director General, WCCB and other dignitaries had also attended the seminar and shared their expertise and experience in handing wildlife crime.
Illegal wildlife trade is reported to be the fourth largest global illegal trade after narcotics, counterfeiting of products and currency, and human trafficking, and is estimated to be worth at least US$19 billion per year. It is a lucrative business for criminal syndicates because the risk involved is low compared to other crimes and high profits can be generated. It hinders social and economic development, including potential economic loss for governments, and has direct consequences on rule of law, national and international security and the environment.