Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oriya Poachers Turn to Wildlife Protection

An elephant in Simlipal National Park

It has been recently reported that a group of four elephant poachers in Orissa's Simlipal National Park have renounced their poaching ways, in an effort to help keep the wildlife safe. The four men, who were responsible in killing of at least eighteen to twenty elephants, surrendered before the forest officials and are set to be part of the national park's protection squad. According to Simlipal's field director Anup Nayak, the four men live in villages on the foothills of the national park. The eldest of the four was Dhanu Soren. A member of the Anantpur village, he had been a poacher for the past twenty years and gained notoriety for training and recruiting local youngsters in the illicit activity. The other three included Budhuray Hembram, Chotray Marandi, and Lakshman Marandi. The group's impudence became a serious matter when nearly 1,200-1,300 members of their gang held 59 forest personnel hostage in the Upper Barakamra range in Simlipal's core area in May last year.
Forest road through Simlipal National Park

The change of heart in these four men happened as a result from efforts put Honorary Wildlife Warden Bhanumitra Acharya. Warden Acharya was able to reform them with the help from local village youngsters who are members of the Simlipal Tiger Protection Force (STPF), which he established in 2001. The organization is now comprised of above 1,013 members, which include village youngsters from 1,200 surrounding villages. In addition, Warden Acharya also founded the Simlipal Special Force which is comprised of twenty youngsters and former army officials who work as an active action group during an emergency situation. According to Warden Acharya, the organization was able to convince the four ex-poachers to give up their illicit profession after a series of meetings. However, this was the first part of this extraordinary success story. The real test will be to exercise their talents, network, and modus operandi to capture other poachers. The four men have been utilized as protection assistants by the forest department's team of sentries.
Sambar deer in Simlipal National Park

This article is an explicit demonstration of how wildlife protection should be conducted around the world. Battling wildlife crimes such as poaching, habitat destruction, and the illegal wildlife trade does not only mean apprehending the perpetrators and sentencing them to prison time. It is also about giving them a second chance in life. And what better way to do than giving these individuals an opportunity to work side by side with wildlife officials in an effort to protect the animals which they kill for profit? This action was seen in the case of these four poachers, who were infamous for not only slaughtering elephants but participating in holding forest personnel hostage. Now, these newly-reformed men have given up their lifestyle of poaching to become part of a protection squad comprised of members from their individual villages. I firmly believe that the efforts Warden Acharya took, in order to protect the wildlife of Simlipal National Park should be an inspiration to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across India and in other parts of the world to protect their local wildlife. This remarkable success story has already inspired an organization called Sangram, which has launched a program titled "Pratyavartan" in order to encourage poachers and other such people who cause any harm to the environment to renounce their lifework and make their living by respectable means. A similar concept is seen when a gang member or any regular criminal either rejects or is convinced to give up the lifestyle he/she led in committing crimes, in order to educate other people not to follow the same path. If the protection of the world's wildlife is enhanced this way, in which poachers and other such criminals be given a second chance to redeem themselves, then the battle against the ongoing threats these people have been committing will likely to cease. However, it is also vitally important at the same time to be vigilant for any individuals who would turn out to be uncooperative for offers like what these four men were given.

View article here

Monday, March 11, 2013

Conservationists Call for a Stop in the Illegal Trade of Cheetahs

A cheetah destined for the illegal pet trade confiscated in 2011

It has been reported that the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, and the Zoological Society of London have recently joined forces with representatives from the nations of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda to call for a stop in the illegal trade of cheetahs as pets. The three African countries were prompted due to an increasing concern of diminishing populations of East African cheetahs, which are currently believed to be smuggled as pets. The Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) has recently accepted the proposal to authorize the first serious study of the trade in cheetahs that should form a groundwork in for future conservation action. Each year, many cheetahs are illegally taken from the wild as cubs since they are easy to tame. During the smuggling process, it is said that more than half of the cubs are thought to die in transportation and scientists fear that the trade could be impacting the cheetah population survival in the Horn of Africa. In 2011, the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) recorded 27 cases involving smuggling of seventy cheetahs within a one-year period, although conservationists believe the total number of figures is much greater.

This news article highlights the growing impact of the exotic pet trade affecting our world. In addition, it also highlights the reaction of countries where exotic animals come from. In this case, the victims are cheetahs and the countries from which the reactions towards the exotic pet trade are coming are Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. All three of these countries are one of the few places in Africa that are known to contain some fairly good numbers of cheetahs, but have also served as hotspots for smuggling wildlife and other illegal activities. According to Dr. Nick Mitchell of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London, cheetahs in the wild occur at very low density numbers which means that eradication of individuals by any means can have a significant impact on the populations' survival. This is why it is extremely crucial that countries having wild animals for the exotic pet trade, and those that are prime hotspots of the business to band together in an effort to save cheetahs and other animals from this ongoing cycle of wildlife smuggling.

View article here 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Namdapha National Park Under Surveillance to Prevent any Illegal Activities

Members of Namdapha National Park's protection force.

It has been recently announced that the Namdapha National Park in India's northeast is now under constant surveillance of a protection force that is actively seeking to prevent any illegal activities from happening. According to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests N.N Zhasa, the force is comprised of a 35-member protection squad, thirteen former service members, and representatives of various local communities of Arunachal Pradesh. Zhasa, who visited the national park during a two-day period from February 27-28, stated that he was satisfied with the change in the national park's situation since it came into spotlight for an attack on former Chief Wildlife Warden J.L. Singh last year. The change was accredited to the park's field director S.J Jongsam, who along with his staff took the local Lisu people into confidence such that few have even become members of the protection force.

I'm extremely proud of the efforts the staff of Namdapha National Park have undertaken, in order to keep it safe from threats like poaching and other illegal activities. In my opinion, Namdapha should be considered as a role model and inspiration to other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India and around the world when it comes to protecting the wildlife. The efforts in protecting wildlife should not only include forest guards or wildlife officials, but also former members of the armed forces and local indigenous people living in surrounding areas of a national park or a protected area. The combination of ex-military officials' knowledge of combat and the indigenous people's knowledge of the land can prove to be worthy and effective in the ongoing battle against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Therefore, it is absolutely important and crucial that other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India and around the world should employ similar tactics in order to put a stop to the ongoing threats affecting the world's wildlife.

View article here