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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