Posted on 07 February 2023   |  
Wildlife crime is an ever-evolving organised crime that requires an organised response to combat it. Keeping this in mind, TRAFFIC and WWF-India, with support from Maharashtra Forest Department, conducted training on 20-21 January 2023 on wildlife law enforcement for the Melghat Tiger Reserve forest officials. The purpose was to give an insight into the new and emerging illegal wildlife trade trends and tools and techniques available to curb this. 
The two-day training was attended by 38 forest officials, many of whom had recently joined the force. It was organised at the Interpretation Centre, Shahnur, Amravtai, Melghat Tiger Reserve.
The training was carefully designed to incorporate the latest trends and policies to freshen the existing knowledge and skills of the officials. The TRAFFIC India team conducted the training with support from legal experts (Advocate Ganshayam Dhole, Additional Public Prosecutor and Advocate Uday Deshmukh, ex-District Government Pleader); and wildlife experts (Mr Chandra Prakash Sharma, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Mr M. Maranko, an Independent Consultant).  
The training focussed on providing insight into the commonly traded wildlife derivates and their identification techniques, evidence collection through forensics, and other related subjects. A special session on the latest amendment to the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 was also included in the training to help the officials understand and implement the amended sections of the Act, including forest officers’ powers, offences, and procedures. 
Mr Arjuna K.R., Deputy Conservator of Forest, Akot Wildlife Division of  Melghat Tiger Reserve, appreciated the initiative by TRAFFIC and WWF-India for undertaking this training that will helped to update the knowledge and skills of the forest officials.
Dr Merwyn Fernandes, Coordinator of TRAFFIC’s India Office, spoke about the use of internet for illegal wildlife trade. He emphasised on the need to inculcate new skills to track and detect wildlife contraband on sale in virtual markets. These new skills will be helpful for enforcement agencies in their mission to protect and secure the future of wildlife.
Melghat Tiger Reserve, in the Amravati District of Maharashtra, was one of the nine Tiger Reserves set up under Project Tiger in 1974. It lies bordering Madhya Pradesh in the north and east, on the western part of the Satpura hill ranges of Central India. It is rich in biodiversity and includes many endangered and protected wildlife, including mammals, reptiles, butterflies and insects. The reserve is also rich in avifauna with many species of birds, including the recently rediscovered Forest Spotted Owlet Athene blewitti. Lately, there have been cases of wildlife poaching from Melghat, including a wide array of species, from tigers, pangolins, and monitor lizards. This area is also reporting increasing human-wildlife conflicts.
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