Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ministry of Environment and Forests Formulates New System to Suppress Tiger Poaching in India

A tiger crossing a forest road

It has recently been reported that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is currently formulating an online tracking system to investigate poaching of tigers in India. The new system, known as the management information system (MIS), is said to provide actual-time exchange information among all of India's 47 tiger reserves and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) in case of poaching incidents, confiscations of illegal wildlife products, and other wildlife crimes. According to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who addressed the 10th annual National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) meeting, the MIS-based tracking system will toughen the WCCB and help in restricting wildlife crimes in tiger reserves. The system will be initiated in a couple of weeks. While highlighting the significance of technology in tiger conservation, Minister Javadekar indicated that using the National Remote Sensing Center's (NRSC) "Alert System" would also be applied in case of natural disasters relating to wildfire and floods in tiger reserves. The system demonstrates a platform where all tiger reserves come on the same wavelength through an online mode, and access to it will be protected through the use of a password. The major benefit of this projected system is that any poaching incident reported from one tiger reserve would send a message to all other tiger reserves which would be put on high alert. Minister Javadekar further added that presently more than 50 percent of the world's wild tigers are in India and their numbers have decreased to over 1,600. The NTCA is currently calculating the tiger population and the census is predicted to be complete by the end of this year. In addition, it has also introduced standard operating procedures (SOP) for raising orphaned tiger cubs and reintroducing them into the wild. The MoEF has even asked India's states to nominate protected areas as tiger reserves and is helping them financially and technically to establish response teams to save the tigers.

There seems to be a sense of hope for India's tigers concerning their protection and conservation with the development and introduction of a unique online system designed to allow exchange of information among all of the country's tiger reserves. At the same time, the MoEF is helping all of India's states that are home to tigers both financially and technically to set up response teams to save the animals. In addition, it has also asked the states to propose protected areas as tiger reserves. This combination of using an online system, establishing response teams, and proposing protected areas as crucial tiger sanctuaries would greatly help in saving India's tiger population from further decreasing in the hands of poachers and other wildlife criminals. However, there are five other subspecies of tigers in Asia whose populations are not known to be either stable or under constant threat from humans. These are the Indochinese, Malayan, Siberian, South China, and Sumatran tigers. Two of the remaining five subspecies, the South China and Sumatran tigers, are listed as "critically endangered" which indicates that they are in need of crucial help regarding their protection and conservation in their homelands. This is why it would be beneficial if the government of India would join forces with its counterparts in Southeast Asia, China, and Russia in order to devise plans similar to what is being done now to guarantee protection and survival for India's tigers.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Corrupt Kenyan Wildlife Rangers Kill Poachers to Cover Up KWS Officers' Involvement in Elephant Poaching

A Maasai tribesman places his hand on a tusk of a tranquilized elephant in southern Kenya.

It has recently been reported by a Kenyan human rights group that corrupt wildlife rangers are killing elephant poachers to cover up the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers' involvement with the criminals who have been massacring the country's elephants. The Muslims for Human Rights organization, which is one of the most esteemed human rights groups in Kenya, chronicled the disappearance of eighteen suspected poachers over the past three years in Tsavo National Park which is currently home to 11,000 elephants. According to Francis Auma, the group's official, eight of the supposed poachers were last seen in the custody of KWS officers and their bodies were later found in forests after being killed and eaten by wild animals. He further added that ten others were shot dead by rangers, according to witnesses. A report which  consisted of interviews with KWS rangers whose identities were not exposed indicated that officers would deal with the poachers and help them with their illegal activities. In return, the officers would receive a portion of the profits from the poachers and kill them in order to prevent them from informing about the officers involved in poaching. The report further pointed out that in other incidents, officers involved in poaching would introduce poachers to a buyer interested in ivory but then kill the poachers and take the payment. In addition, no investigations have been conducted regarding the disappearances and killings of the eighteen suspects because their families were afraid to make formal complaints to the police. Famed conservationist and KWS founding chairman Richard Leakey stated that the organization is known to carry out extrajudicial killings "from time to time." He indicated that most poachers in the vicinity of Tsavo National Park are Muslim, often from Somalia, and that some members of the KWS could be anti-Somali because of terrorist attacks in Kenya by the militants of al-Shabaab. In March, Mr. Leakey stated that the KWS had been penetrated by powerful people embellishing themselves from poaching. Later, the government placed six senior wildlife officials on leave. Three were cleared of charges, while the other three stay under investigation. A government report issued in June indicated that some staff members of the KWS have been involved in the poaching of elephants and rhinos.

It is extremely appalling and outrageous to see that members of the KWS have become involved in poaching, even though their main objective is to combat the wildlife crime that has been decimating Africa's elephant population between 2010 and 2012. Not only have these corrupt officers become involved in poaching, but they have been killing poachers or having poachers killed simply to cover up their involvement in the crime in order to save their prestige and dignity. This is like having police officers becoming involved in criminal activities and killing the criminals instead of placing them under arrest just so they could maintain their status as "honest" fighters of crime. Even worse is that such poachers killed in the hands of corrupt KWS officers and rangers have been victims of racism, due to the fact that they are Muslim and often of Somali origin. The bigotry towards these criminals stems from the terrorist attacks conducted in Kenya by the militants of al-Shabaab. Ironically, al-Shabaab has been linked to the continuous poaching of elephants along with the Janjaweed and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) who have been known to profit from the illegal ivory trade to carry out their civil wars towards innocent people. The involvement of KWS officers in poaching activities indicates that they are a disgrace to the organization. For this reason, it is absolutely crucial that the KWS must launch an investigation in order to remove officers, rangers, and other staff members responsible for being involved in poaching activities and killing poachers to save their prestige and dignity. Those that are found to be responsible for their actions should be eliminated from their positions. In addition, the KWS must improvise its guidelines when recruiting new trainees for the battle against poaching by enforcing a zero-tolerance policy towards discreet involvement in poaching activities and racially motivated attacks on poachers or anybody suspected of being poachers. Furthermore, shooting towards poachers should primarily be done as a last resort for self-defense. This way, KWS cannot attract negative attention from human rights organizations or any other groups.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Federal Program Seeks to Increase Mexican Wolf Recovery Zone

A team of volunteers with the USFWS examining a captive female Mexican wolf for any vital signs in New Mexico's Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.

It has recently been reported that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which is managing a recovery area in the state of New Mexico for Mexican wolves, indicated that it wants to considerably enlarge the area in order to release the animals into the wild. Initially, the agency began bringing the wolves to an inadequate area of national forest bestriding Arizona and New Mexico in 1998 and now requests to make the area fifteen times larger in order to have the wolves roam freely. This proposal was explained by Tracy Melbihess of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program this month at public meetings in both Arizona and New Mexico. She indicated that genetics of the wild population is weak due to inbreeding, and that more wolves must be released into the wild from hundreds presently in captivity. In order to do that, there should be an expansion of government-established boundaries to prevent territorial conflicts. In addition, Sherry Berrett of the USFWS added that working on the resilience and acceptance of wolves by people needs to be worked on. However, that would not be easy since people are the main threat of wolves. Since the recovery program began, 55 wolves had been illegally killed either by firearms, trappings, or other ways. These killings have been a result of retaliation against livestock predation by the wolves. Last year, the USFWS associated 28 livestock killings to the wolves. Although the ranchers were said to be acceptable for compensation, they argued that cattle afflicted by wolves would lose weight which decreases their value. Furthermore, hunters complained that the wolves were killing off the local game animals. However, wolf advocates argued that Mexican wolves play an important role in a healthy ecosystem. One of them is Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, who has examined the history of the U.S policy towards wolves for the past thirteen years. He pointed out that wolves prevent animals like elk from grazing too long at riverbanks, which allows more trees such as cottonwood and willows to grow. He further added that more abundant concentration of trees would attract more beavers to build their dams to provide habitat for fish. In addition, the trees also provide nesting habitat for migratory birds.
A billboard warning about presence of wolves.

It is a very bold move that the USFWS has carried out, in order to help revive the Mexican wolf population in the American Southwest. The expansion of the species' recovery zone would help cover more ground in the region, in order to further reintroduce captive wolves back into the wild. This is a crucial step since Mexican wolves, like their northern counterparts, play a vital role in the dry and arid ecosystem by keeping the wild herbivore population in check. However, their presence has not been sitting well with ranching communities whose members view them as a threat to their livestock. For this reason, scores of free-roaming wolves have fallen victims in the hands of distraught ranchers who do not care whether the global population of Mexican wolves is stable or critically low. In addition, hunters view them as competitors for game animals and would resort to killing the wolves in order to eliminate competition. These issues not only further decimate the Mexican wolf population in the U.S, but also hinder the recovery efforts to successfully revive the Mexican wolf in its historical range. The local people living within the vicinity of these animals need to learn and understand that they are crucial for the survival of a healthy ecosystem and that they help maintain ecological balance by preying on wild herbivores in order to keep their populations in check. At the same time, ranchers who have been affected by wolves should be provided with necessary equipment to prevent any attacks on their livestock. This includes chain-link fencing to prevent wolves from crossing into lands reserved for cattle and other livestock. In addition, livestock guardian dogs should be employed to keep wolves away from the livestock. This tactic was conducted by the government of Catalonia in the Pyrenean Mountains three years ago. It is unclear what the current global population of the Mexican wolf is and it is therefore important to take tremendous action to prevent any further loss of these animals in the hands of people who view them as cold-blooded killers from fairy tales.

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India's Lesser-known Species Threatened by Poaching

The Indian pangolin has been heavily targeted by poachers to meet the growing demand for its meat which is highly prized as a delicacy in Southeast Asia and its scales as traditional Chinese medicine. 

In India, it is usually believed that the threat of poaching is known to target powerful and iconic species like the elephant, rhino, tiger, etc. In response, intensive protection measurements have been carried out over the years to ensure the survival of these powerful animals. However, a recent news report has indicated that poachers are beginning to target lesser-known species for the purpose of making quick and easy money. Among these little-known species are the magnificent Indian star tortoise and the very rare Indian pangolin. While tortoises are targeted for the exotic pet trade, others are ruthlessly slaughtered for either food, medicine, or aphrodisiacs claimed to contain supernatural powers against illnesses and increase sexual desire. The hunting of pangolins was almost unheard of, with an average of only three animals reported killed in India each year between 1990 and 2008. However, between 2009 and 2013, that number skyrocketed to over 320 animals killed every year. This count represented just the animals found by authorities, and the real number of animals killed could be up to ten times higher. The pangolin's meat is considered a delicacy in several parts of Southeast Asia, and its scales are ground up for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The belief in such body parts of the pangolin that are known to contain healing powers has contributed to the decline of the species in apocalyptic proportions, in order to meet the growing demand for the products in ChinaVietnam, and other countries in Southeast Asia. In addition to pangolins, monitor lizards have also been threatened by poaching. Their skins are known to be used in clothing accessories, and their livers and tongues are processed to be sold as aphrodisiacs.
The Indian star tortoise (top) has been targeted for the exotic pet trade, while the monitor lizard (bottom) has been ruthlessly slaughtered for its skin which is used as a clothing accessory along with liver and tongue as aphrodisiacs. 

It is extremely disheartening and frustrating to see that only larger and more prominent species like elephants, tigers, and rhinos are receiving a great to deal of attention concerning their protection and conservation while lesser-known species are being largely ignored. This indicates that poachers are always keeping their eyes and ears open for new species of animals that can guarantee them fast money. That is, when poaching for tigers, rhinos, and other powerful animals becomes impossible due to conservation measurements directed towards them, poachers would turn to smaller species of animals like tortoises, monitor lizards, and pangolins. These endangered animals, like their larger counterparts, are also heavily threatened by poaching in which they are brutally slaughtered for their meat and other body parts believed to contain supernatural powers against various illnesses and increase sexual desire. In addition, some like the Indian star tortoises have and continue to become victims of the exotic pet trade. Due to the problem of turning a blind eye on lesser-known endangered species, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade has and continues to flourish and has led to a dramatic decline of animals like the pangolin. Pangolins are known to share their habitat with tigers, rhinos, elephants, and other larger animals and although they are small, they play a crucial role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem by keeping the insect population in check. Conservationists, conservation groups, wildlife experts, authorities, and anybody involved in global wildlife protection need to learn and understand that special attention should never be limited to larger endangered animals; it should be directed at all endangered species regardless of big or small they are. This would greatly help in the protection and conservation of endangered species at a global scale if all endangered species, no matter what their size or how well-recognized they are, receive a great deal of attention regarding their conservation and protection in order to ensure their survival on the long-run.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Study- Africa's Elephants Could Become Extinct in 100 Years

African elephant

A recent study has shown that Africa's elephant population has reached a tipping point in which more animals are being ruthlessly killed each year, surpassing the birth rate. Researchers concluded that an average of approximately 35,000 African elephants have been killed annually since 2010 and warned that if the poaching rate continues, then the elephants could become extinct in 100 years. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It provided a definite assessment of the impact of poaching on the elephants. For example, researchers have discovered that between 2010 and 2013, Africa experienced an average of 7 percent decline in its entire elephant population each year. Since elephant births bolster the population by roughly 5 percent annually, it means that more animals are being killed than born. According to Julian Blanc of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), if the poaching of elephants is continued, the world would see tremendous declines over time. He further added that different African countries are affected differently. For example, Botswana still has healthy growing elephant populations but in other areas like Central Africa, poaching levels are calamitously high resulting in a 60 percent drop in elephant numbers in ten years. Professor George Wittemyer of Colorado State University, the study's lead author, added that poachers target the biggest and oldest members in elephant herds such as dominant breeding males, mothers, and matriarchs. This results in fractured elephant societies and orphaned juveniles.
Ivory stockpiles being destroyed in an attempt to stop the illegal ivory trade.

This news is an explicit reminder that Africa's elephant population has and continues to be in dire jeopardy, due to poaching. Areas like Central Africa have become killing fields for these majestic animals as poachers ruthlessly massacre scores of elephants, contributing not only to the downfall of the region's wildlife but also its tourism industry and socio-economic development. The most brutal and heartbreaking example was seen in Bouba Njida National Park in Cameroon, where 350 elephants were slaughtered by poachers in 2012. Furthermore, the poachers who conducted such carnage included members of militant groups like the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Janjaweed. These factions are infamous for carrying out civil wars in Central Africa that have claimed hundreds of innocent lives. In addition to claiming lives of people, members of these organizations turned to poaching in order finance their civil wars. This indicates that in Central Africa and other areas rife with militant activities, both people and wildlife are under constant threat of falling prey into the murderous hands of ruthless and bloodthirsty cutthroats with no regard for animal or human life. It is therefore absolutely essential to take urgent action to further combat the ongoing ivory trade by focusing on the front-line and dealing with all its links. This includes improvising local livelihoods, intensifying enforcement and authorities, targeting militia groups responsible for the continuous massacre of people and elephants, and reducing the demand of ivory in Asia and other parts of the world.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

South Africa to Fight Poaching by Transporting Rhinos From Kruger National Park

Dehorned white rhinos in Kruger National Park 

It has recently been reported that South Africa has planned to transport up to 500 rhinos from Kruger National Park to combat a surge in poaching that has been decimating the animals over the past few years. Officials indicated that the operation could have some of the rhinos transferred to Botswana and Zambia as South Africa deals with the poaching epidemic that has claimed more than 630 animals so far this year with 408 of them in Kruger National Park. The recent census has showed that between 8,400 and 9,600 white rhinos remain in the national park. Despite the ongoing threat of poaching, the rhino population has sustained with a yearly mortality rate of roughly 8 percent balanced by an 8 percent birth rate. The operation will consist of tracking down rhinos in distant and tough wilderness and tranquilizing them with darts from helicopters. It is said that transporting one rhino would cost $1,500 or more. However, transporting Kruger National Park's rhinos is nothing new; park rangers move some number of rhinos every year with park management using profits from sales to private game reserves to help finance conservation efforts. According to Markus Hofmeyr, Kruger National Park head veterinarian, a record of 250 rhinos were shifted in 2009 but the extent of poaching had forced it take a more extreme approach. The focus of this mission will be on Kruger National Park's eastern border with Mozambique, where poachers from poverty-stricken communities are attracted by the assurance of easy money to commit wildlife crimes.

It is an extremely thoughtful idea that South Africa has decided on a new approach to combating poaching that has been decimating its wildlife, particularly rhinos, in the past few years. The country is renowned for being the home of the vast majority of the world's rhino population with 18,000 white rhinos and 3,000 black rhinos. Due to the abundance of rhinos, the country has suffered tremendously from illegal poaching that claimed more than 1,000 animals last year to meet the growing demand of rhino horn which is strongly desired as an essential ingredient in traditional medicine in China and Vietnam. Earlier, South Africa probably carried out a much more direct approach in combating poaching. That is, authorities conducted patrols in Kruger National Park for poachers and directly confronted them when sighting them. However, at the same time, rhinos continued to fall prey in the hands of poachers and increasing the death toll. But now, with this new strategy underway, it appears the rhinos may have a second chance. South Africa has already identified Botswana and Zambia as likely places of relocation with Botswana being known for its extensive areas of somewhat populated and rugged wilderness. However, it is important to keep in mind that poachers will pursue the rhinos following their relocation from Kruger National Park and it is therefore crucial that authorities in Botswana, Zambia, or any other nearby country should remain on high alert for poachers and their activities. This is especially important in the case of black rhinos which are listed as "critically endangered." At the same time, vital measurements are required to help save Africa's elephants which are also being heavily poached at a dangerous rate for their tusks to meet the growing demand of ivory in Asia and the pangolin which is being ruthlessly slaughtered for its scales that are highly valued as fashion products and its meat as a delicacy.

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

India to Use Aerial Drones in Protecting its Forests and Wildlife

An aerial drone in action

It has recently been reported that India will be using unmanned aerial vehicles known commonly as drones to protect its forests and wildlife. The purpose of these drones will be to oversee poaching, track wildlife, and even calculate the population of tigers. Scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) are coming up with an array of such aerial vehicles which are being custom-made ingeniously to accommodate different types of forest landscapes in India. According to K. Ramesh, a wildlife scientist from the WII who is in charge of this project, the manufacturing and modifying of drones would allow movement towards the second generation of technology for overseeing and surveillance of the wildlife. He further added that the drones will be profitable and can navigate areas that are inaccessible to people. The scientists are developing a report for initiating drone surveillance in ten wildlife-rich areas across India under a joint partnership with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). These areas include the foothills of the Himalayas, high-altitude Himalayas, central India, coastal regions of the Sundarbans, Andaman Islands, etc. Although the drone monitoring project is scheduled to be implemented in 2015, it has received positive feedback. For example, Shekhar Kumar Niraj, the head of wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, the drones would be useful for ill-equipped forest guards. The drones were successfully tested in Kaziranga and Panna National Parks, and will be taken to a whole new level in poaching surveillance, wildlife tracking, and counting of tiger populations.

It is amazing how the use of aerial drones has been proving to be effective in wildlife monitoring and the ongoing battle against poaching. Places like Africa have already begun using these unmanned aerial vehicles to oversee poaching activities in areas inaccessible by humans and monitor its wildlife. Now, India is stepping in to conduct the use of drones in the battle to protect its local wildlife and habitats. In addition to monitoring poaching and wildlife, aerial drones may also be used to calculate numbers of animals such as tigers especially in areas where the use of camera traps turned out to be ineffective. There are several advantages to using aerial drones in the field of wildlife conservation. For example, their movement can be controlled through a GPS system, they can be put on autopilot mode and dispatched as far as forty to fifty kilometers deep into a forest. In addition, they can record images and videos and broadcast them on an actual time basis. Furthermore, drones can travel at a speed of forty kilometers per hour which means they can be used for approximately 40-50 minutes. That is, they can be brought back to a base station, recharged, and resent back several times in a single day. Lastly, the drones are said to be cheap and a single unit would only cost Rs. 3-6 lakh. With India's drone monitoring project underway, the battle against poaching will be taken to another level in which wildlife authorities may have the advantage in hunting down poachers and conservationists could have the possibility of obtaining more accurate data concerning wildlife abundance. This can be seen when drones may be used to conduct nighttime surveillance which would not only reveal poachers and their hideouts, but also uncover elusive animals like the snow leopard and the red panda which are rarely seen in the wild. Overall, this project would prove to be an exceptional breakthrough in India's conservation movement and hopefully inspire other nations around the world to implement similar projects in their individual battles against poaching and other wildlife crimes affecting their local wildlife.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kaziranga National Park Disputes the Role of Police in Wildlife Protection

An Indian one-horned rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park

It has recently been reported that forest authorities of Kaziranga National Park told the Gauhati High Court that the police were not giving much priority to wildlife crimes such as poaching of rhinos and identified the "loopholes" in the investigations into such cases. A definite report on the everlasting protection of rhinos in Kaziranga indicated that the role of police was highly important in restricting wildlife crimes as rhino horns were smuggled out for the international wildlife trade through neighboring states in northeast India. The report was submitted by the national park's director M.K Yadava before the division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan. The court had asked the park authorities to turn in the report in connection with three PILs and two written petitions registered by one Mrinal Saharia and an NGO asserting failure of government departments to restrict rhino poaching and other wildlife crimes in Kaziranga. The report alleged that penetrable borders, lack of composure and conviction of poachers, increasing population around Kaziranga's outskirts, easy access to international markets through the neighboring states, among others resulting in poaching of rhinos. Furthermore, it also indicated that a scene of a wildlife crime is often not maintained leading to meddling of evidence and wiping away of essential fingerprints. The report even pointed out steps, which includes establishing anti-poaching camps and using dog squads, to curb down poaching.

This news clearly indicates why it is absolutely essential to put a stop to wildlife crimes through joint collaboration between wildlife authorities and other government agencies. Just because poaching and other wildlife crimes involve taking lives of wild animals does not mean that it should be handled by wildlife officials, conservation groups, NGOs, and other similar agencies whose objectives concern the plight of world's endangered wildlife. The efforts to curb such wildlife crimes should be accomplished through a joint collaboration between wildlife conservation agencies and government organizations such as law enforcement agencies, military, FBI, CIA, etc. If one side turns a blind eye or a deaf ear from an incident related to poaching or any other wildlife crime, it gives the poachers and other perpetrators an advantage against the authorities and this would result in further decline of the world's wildlife. When it comes to wildlife protection, it is usually the law enforcement that does not pay attention to such incidents. This was seen in the case of Kaziranga National Park, where the police have not been giving much attention to poaching which is affecting the park's rhino population and other wildlife. If this trend continues, Kaziranga would be stripped of its status as a World Heritage Site. This is why it is extremely crucial that law enforcement agencies, military, and other government agencies should always maintain a joint collaboration with wildlife authorities, conservation groups, environmental groups, etc. in order to put a stop to poaching and other wildlife crimes not just in India but in other countries as well.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Report- Tiger Poachers Never Appear Before Court After Being Released on Bail

A tiger in Tadoba National Park

It has recently been reported that poachers involved in poaching of tigers are being released on bail, allowing them to continue carrying out their illegal activities. One example came last month when the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court gave bail to two poachers of the Baheliya caste named Barsul and Yarlen. Before that, a Delhi tiger skin trader named Naresh Lala was also released on bail. Now, all three perpetrators had filed an application before court to be excused from appearance at court hearings due to health reasons. Records indicate that poachers from castes like the Baheliya from Katni district and Bawariya from the state of Haryana never appear before court once they are released on bail. Many notorious poachers granted bail are either escaping or had to be hunted down and rearrested. Previously, eight merciless poachers involved in tiger poaching during the 2012-13 period have been released on bail. They include Suraj Pal also known as Chacha ("uncle"), Naresh Lala, Barsul, Yarlen, and poacher harborers Parman and Soberam, in addition to Jiyalal Bawankar, who uses to make steel traps for poachers.

An analysis of poaching cases in the Nagpur area over the past few years indicated that poachers of the Baheliya caste never showed up at court cases once released on bail, and were discovered to be involved in new poaching cases. For example, in 2004, four Baheliya men and nine women were captured with a steel trap in the Brahmapuri division. All thirteen of them were released on bail, and since then the case is still pending since the accused have never attended the court. Another example was seen in the case of Keru Chhiyalal Rajgond and Ranjit Singh Bawariya. The CBI had arrested them along with other suspects at Nagpur Railway Station and confiscated two tiger skins and thirty kilograms of bones in November 2009. Keru was granted bail in July 2010 from the high court and Ranjit's son-in-law Ram Swarup was declared a minor by the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) of Nagpur. Ranjit was released on bail in early 2011, along with Amit Kumar, Tashi Lado, Channa Lal, and Tashi Shering. Currently, Keru is running away and has never showed up at a single hearing after being granted bail. The CBI distributed non-bailable warrants (NBW) several times, but he never appeared in court. Keru and his brother Ajit were later engaged in tiger poaching again. Last summer, they killed an adult tiger in Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary and another in the Brahmapuri division. While the court has not yet called for a guarantee from Keru, Ajit has applied for bail. Tashi Shering, on the other hand, passed away in December last while Lado is missing from hearings for the last one year. The court did not take any action on his application to not show up on medical grounds. Similarly, Ranjit has been running away from March 2013 but no NBW was distributed by the court. Fortunately, he was arrested by forest officials from Andhra Pradesh in December last year for poaching tigers in Melghat Tiger Reserve.

It is extremely disappointing and agonizing to see how poachers or anybody involved in poaching of tigers and other endangered species be granted bail so that they can simply disappear only to resume their illegal activities of further decimating the wildlife. In addition, such perpetrators come up with devious ways of manipulating the legal system to guarantee a chance of being granted bail. For example, poachers of the Baheliya caste are known to use fake names and produce fake documents such as birth certificates and ration cards to be released on bail. A recent example of this was seen in the case of poachers Chika and Mamru, whose birth certificates presented in court were found to be fake. This indicates that poachers are trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities. Over the years, poachers from castes like the Bawariya and Baheliya have been granted bail and used this opportunity to abscond so that they never appear for court hearings even when authorities like the CBI issue non-bailable warrants against the perpetrators. This news indicates that it is absolutely crucial that India must enforce strict penalties against poachers in which they would not be granted bail under any circumstances and even be deprived of their rights to apply for bail. In addition, law enforcement officials must also keep their eyes open for any signs of manipulation by the perpetrators such as the use of fake names and documents in the form of birth certificates, ration cards, etc. This would prevent the perpetrators from being released on bail to continue carrying out their illicit deeds. At the same time, there should also be an implementation of education and awareness programs directed towards the Baheliya, Bawariya, and other communities whose members are known for being involved in poaching. The purpose of these programs should be to educate the people from such communities about the dangers of poaching and how they can help to stop it, in order to encourage them to not take the same path as their fellow community members who have been arrested for their actions. This combination of law enforcing and community outreach would help curb any further activities of poaching in India.

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