IMPHAL- Flagging the ever increasing graph of wildlife crime especially trafficking in wildlife within India as well in the global level, the Chief Justice of High Court of Manipur, Justice P V Sanjay Kumar today underlined sustained collaboration among all the stakeholders including various government agencies and forces in the State and Central level.
Addressing a workshop on “Wildlife crime prevention – challenges, solutions and role of stake holders” in the auditorium of High Court of Manipur today, the Chief Justice said in views of the changed scenario, wildlife crime which is the fourth largest illegal trade on the globe, dealing with wildlife crimes requires also probing its link to narco-terrorism and arms smuggling and using of latest scientific mode on investigation DNA tests and wildlife forensics to increase conviction rate.
He said it is necessary for holding training sessions, awareness workshops for forest, police, judiciary and other government agencies for effective tackling of wildlife crimes through synergised efforts in India, a country with major biodiversity.
He further said the North East of India as well as the country as a whole stand vulnerable to wildlife crimes because of presence of porous international borders and rich prevalent biodiversity. He wished the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 would have provisions to deal with illegal trade of exotic animals too.
Other distinguished speakers in the workshop which was organised by Manipur State Legal Services authority in collaboration with research-based biodiversity conservation organisation Aaranyak, also agreed to the synergised action on part of multiple agencies as well as the community as a whole to mitigate wildlife crimes.
Justice M V Muralidaran on the High Court, called for serious introspection on part of all agencies concerned about low reporting wildlife crime in Manipur and delay in conviction of guilty. He said as a global citizen it is the duty of every citizen to strive for protection of wildlife which is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He further raised alarm that India has become a source, destination and major trafficking route for illegal wildlife trade.
Justice A Bimol Singh of the High Court said India is the 17th Major biodiverse country in the world with 70 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity though it occupies less than 10 percent of the earth’s surface area.
“The country being a treasure trove of flora and fauna, only law and Acts cannot protect the biodiversity unless there is synergy among law enforcing forces, forest agencies and judiciary. There is need for massive awareness drives, use of technology for prevention of wildlife crimes,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Conservator of Forest, Manipur, Longjam Joykumar stated that Manipur having rich biodiversity and being close to the porous international border is vulnerable to wildlife crime and underlined the need for massive awareness among all stakeholders and strict enforcement of the WL (Protection) Act for prevention of such crimes.
The forest official rued delay in court proceedings and low conviction rates in case of wildlife crime cases and observed that usually the court tends to ignore the provisions for imprisonment of wildlife criminals who get away with only imposition of fines.
The Director General of Manipur Police, P Doungel, in his address said that it is the human greed that has led to proliferation of wildlife crimes and Manipur being considered a heaven for wildlife crimes because of its proximity to the international border must have a synergised efforts in place among various agencies including police, forest department, Assan Rifles, Customs, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau etc. to protect the wildlife and prevent crimes.
Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, the CEO and Secretary General of Aaranyak set the tone for the well-attended workshop which was participated by judicial officers, police and forest officers, customs and DRI officials, Assam Rifles officials, the WCCB and NGO members by presenting a wide picture on wildlife crime in global and regional perspective besides explain the activities and mission of Aaranyak.
Ojesh Mutum of MASLSA, in his welcome address underlined the importance of such workshop of unique kind to create multi-agency coordination in protecting wildlife and preventing wildlife crimes.