Role of masses, laws, enforcement agencies focused in wildlife crime workshop in Meghalaya

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TURA: The role of the common masses in conservation of biodiversity through prevention of wildlife crime and the efficacy of laws pertaining to wildlife crimes were flagged in the workshop that was organised by Meghalaya Police here today in association with Aaranyak.

In the welcome address by C V S Reddy, DIG, Western Range of Meghalaya Police, who has taken this key initiative to hold the workshop on “Wildlife crime scenario and its various dimensions,” it was stated that human beings would go extinct if biodiversity was not there, as ‘we human beings, animals, birds, plants, etc., all are part of the same ecosystem as well as the food chain. If the food chain is disrupted at some point, the entire ecosystem is affected.’

Citing the recent unprecedented heatwave experienced in the Garo Hills region, the police official said it may be because of the wanton destruction of forest cover. He also underlined the need for reducing the area under shifting cultivation that requires the burning of forest cover by using available new agriculture techniques. The DIG cited the example of the much-decorated ‘Forest Man of India, Jadav Payeng, who has converted a barren sandbar island into a thick forest in Assam, to highlight how a common man is capable of making a huge contribution towards biodiversity conservation. The Divisional Forest Officer of West and South West Garo Hills Division, Ganesan P, was present in the workshop and responded to some queries in the interactive session. Deputy Superintendent of Police from SWGH, R. K. Sangma, explained what transpired in the workshop in Garo language for better understanding the village heads, Nokmas, and common people in the audience.

Northeast India, by virtue of its unique altitudinal gradient, has a very rich biodiversity, especially in the Garo hills, as the area is in the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve and Balphakram National Park zones, and hence could attract the bad eyes of wildlife criminals to exploit the bio-resources of the area vulnerable to the burgeoning wildlife crime that has acquired an alarming proportion across the globe, according to globally reputed conservation scientist, Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, the Secretary General and CEO of Aaranyak (www.aaranyak.org), the premier research-based biodiversity conservation organisation based in Guwahati and with an eastern India footprint.

A former member of the National Board of Wildlife, Dr. Talukdar laid emphasis on synergized efforts for conservation of wildlife and prevention of wildlife crime, which poses a threat to national security because of its nexus with arms smugglers, drug cartels, and militants, and stated that successful conservation of wildlife species leads to conservation of habitats, thereby increasing biodiversity.

Officers from different ranks of the Meghalaya Police from all five districts of the Garo Hills region and officers of the Forest Department were apprised of the key clauses of the Wildlife, Forest, and Environment Laws, especially the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2022, by Environment Lawyer Ajoy Kumar Das, who is associated with Aaranyak. He explained the efficacy of these law provisions through a lucid presentation that induced engrossing interactions with the police and forest officials, as well as village heads and Nokmas present. The focus of his presentation was to sensitise the officials from enforcement and investigating agencies about the difference between wildlife cases and other cases as well as how to deal with the amendments incorporated into the Wildlife (Protection) Act. He also explained the investigation procedure and way of filing a complaint before the court by the investigation officers so that the rate of conviction in wildlife crime cases can be increased manifold in the interest of conserving biodiversity, stated a press release.


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