‘Community based wildlife protection initiatives’: Need of the hour to curb wildlife crime in Nagaland
The workshop was an important one for the region that is a rich biodiversity hotspot and home to various wildlife species that find their way into illegal wildlife trade both for local consumption as well as international trade. Due to it’s border with Myanmar, it falls on a major international trade route for wildlife smuggling, and therefore it becomes imperative to strengthen wildlife enforcement and protection in the region.
The training workshop was inaugurated by Shri C. M. Chang, Hon’ble Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Nagaland. During his discourse he stressed on the need to have stronger community-based initiatives to curb wildlife poaching and smuggling in the State of Nagaland where the local communities are a major stakeholders of wildlife resources. He suggested stronger awareness initiatives among the community members and advised building capacities of the forest department for tackling wildlife crime. During the programme, Hon’ble Minister, Shri Chang also released the latest edition of TRAFFIC India’s newsletter, TRAFFIC Post. The current Issue is a special one focussing on poaching and illegal trade of birds in India, also a major conservation concern for the State of Nagaland.
Shri I Panger Jamir, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and HoFF (Head of Forest Force), Nagaland chaired the programme and suggested inclusion of wildlife crime investigation and law enforcement in the regular training programmes of the forest service. He has also requested WCCB to set up a branch in Nagaland to tackle wildlife smuggling cases.
Dr SaketBadola, Head of TRAFFIC India said, “Wildlife forms an integral part of our natural resources and crucial for the wellbeing of the communities. India is a source country for illegal wildlife trade, from where many species are being smuggled through various routes outside to other countries. Nagaland situated at a critical junction near the demand sites and with porous borders makes illegal wildlife trade quite easy. To combat this there is a need to empower theNagaland Forest Department and work with communities in creating an enabling situation which can then reduce wildlife crime within the state”.
Dr Badola in his presentation “Status of Wildlife Crime and Illegal Wildlife trade in India” highlighted various species in illegal wildlife trade and their main drivers. He reiterated that securing protection of wildlife in the North EastIndia is crucial tocurbing trafficking of wildlife products from the country to markets in South East Asia.
The training programme covered various important aspects of wildlife crime investigation and law enforcement including overview of illegal wildlife trade with respect to the key endangered species and with a focus on primary drivers of wildlife trade; Illegal trade routes, hubs and modus operandi ; Wildlife forensic and the importance of DNA as a tool for forensic investigation; Methods of intelligence gathering, investigation and cyber crime; Digital intelligence and use of information technology in solving wildlife crime; Important aspects of the laws that protect India’s wildlife including the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and many other related aspects of wildlife crime investigation. The sessions were led by experts from various wildlife specialist organisations and were conducted through discussions and field exercises.
The training workshop culminated with a vote of thanks from Shri Satya Prakash Tripathi, Chief Wildlife Warden, Nagaland, Dimapur. He said, “ We are extremely grateful to the Hon’ble Minister Shri C.M. Chang for taking out time to address the participants at this training workshop. The workshop has provided insights which are of immense use for the Forest Department of Nagaland. The steps undertaken by the department are in its infancy and hence the workshop has been held at an opportune time. We also thank TRAFFIC India, WCCB and resource persons conducting the workshop for making the technical session interesting and lucid for the participants to understand”.