Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Maharashtra Orders to Have Poachers Shot on Sight

A tiger on a stroll

The Indian state of Maharashtra has been shocked by an alarming increase of poaching incidents. The rise in such incidents have become so stupendous, that the government has proclaimed that the forest staff would be privileged to shoot poachers on sight. At the same time, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) ordered all tiger range states to treat every death of a tiger or a leopard as a poaching case unless otherwise proven beyond doubt. The idea was implemented by Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam, who had given orders to provide the forest staff with firearms. The idea was that the staff can only make use of the arms if they either caught or spotted poachers in the act or smuggling cross-border. In addition to that, he also decided during a meeting on Tuesday to protect the staff from criminal proceedings. In his own words, Minister Kadam stated that the staff should first fire a warning shot ordering the poachers to surrender. If that warning is ignored, only then would they shoot the perpetrators. He further added that the staff would be protected from prosecution against their action. However, he also made it clear that measures should be taken to make sure that too much force such as outnumbering and cornering would not be used against the poachers.

This article is a clear example of what happens in a particular region or a state when the threat of poaching reaches to a point that the authorities have no choice but to take drastic action. In this case, the response to a poaching activity is total annihilation; period. Maharashtra is not the only place to have taken this step in combating poaching. It is also a similar story in some parts of Africa, particularly Uganda. This was especially seen in an Animal Planet program called The Jeff Corwin Experience in an episode shot in Uganda where the host met with a team of forest guards whose leader told him that they "terminate poachers." This truly gives an idea about how poaching and other wildlife-related crimes are taken seriously in a sense that the authorities will not hesitate to shoot to kill. And this is seen in the case of Maharashtra; however, Minister Kadam also made sure that the forest staff would use good judgment when dealing with poachers. This is very much similar like in the law enforcement when police officers first order a would-be criminal(s) to surrender and only fire at them if they show hesitation. It is an effective strategy that prevents both law enforcement officers and Maharashtra's forest staff from landing into trouble with the law. I'm very much proud of what Minister Kadam planned when it came to tackling Maharashtra's poaching problem, and I also think that other states in India and places outside the country would benefit if they applied the similar techniques in battling their own wildlife-related crimes.

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