Saturday, April 18, 2015

Odisha State Police Receive Training to Fight Wildlife Crimes

Police officials participating in the workshop

International wildlife trade monitoring organization TRAFFIC has recently joined forces with the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the Odisha State Police force to bolster wildlife law enforcement in the state. To do this, a wildlife law enforcement capacity building training workshop was established specially for police officials on April 9 at the police headquarters in the city of Cuttack. Over sixty police officials in leading positions from 55 police stations located in the proximity of Odisha's protected areas took part in the workshop, which was initiated by the Director of General Police (DGP) Sanjeev Marik. As part of his inaugural speech, he indicated that there is a lack of awareness and knowledge of laws related to wildlife and environmental crimes among police and other enforcement agencies and that the forest department is completely responsible for enforcing wildlife laws. He also promised that the state police has full support combating wildlife crimes in Odisha. According to B.K Sharma, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) who has been conducting several wildlife crime crackdowns during his long term with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), there is a need to regard wildlife preservation as an issue of national prestige and dignity. That is, crimes related to wildlife should be considered equivalent to other severe felonies. He also emphasized on the substantial role that the police can play in fighting wildlife crimes.
Workshop session

The workshop consisted of various specific sessions carried out by TRAFFIC's resource team which included experts from different lines of law and enforcement. During the technical session of the workshop, head of TRAFFIC in India Dr. Shekhar Niraj presented current information on wildlife crime hubs, the species involved, changes in supply and demand movements, identification of specimens in trade, and various drivers of the illegal wildlife trade and poaching. He further stressed that it is essential for the police to be educated about the legislation, tools and methods to fight wildlife crimes, especially in civic trade and export hubs that function as significant centers for wildlife products. Other sessions included interactive ones which were carried out on the use of intelligence collection and resemblance by TRAFFIC's central experts which included a highly proficient IPS officer named Varun Kapoor. In addition, the organization's senior lawyer Saurabh Sharma led a session on wildlife laws and utilization of confirmatory laws. There were also sessions on species and specimen identification, DNA fingerprinting, and wildlife forensics conducted by former senior scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dr. S.P Goyal. Nishant Verma, a senior officer from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India (WCCB) conducted a session on intelligence collection and investigations. Participants at the workshop also received comprehensive field training on surveillance, seizure and interrogation, and recognizing and dismantling traps set up by poachers. The session was conducted by trainers from the Tamil Nadu-based Special Task Force. The participants also learned about examining marine species through real examples of marine and coastal species, and even wildlife parts and derivatives frequently found in the illegal wildlife trade through confiscated wildlife products.
Participants learning how to identify and dismantle traps set up by poachers

The police officials demonstrated enthusiastic interest in learning different techniques to minimize wildlife crime and shared their experiences during the technical and field sessions. This indicates that the battle to curb poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and other wildlife crimes is best accomplished with the involvement of police departments, military branches, and other agencies. Wildlife organizations alone are not solely responsible for ensuring the survival and well-being of the world's wildlife. The Odisha State Police recently participated in a workshop designed specifically to educate the personnel on how to help in combating wildlife crimes. This was seen through the participation in various training sessions in which members of the state police learned about species and specimen identification, wildlife forensics, wildlife laws, and even how to identify and dismantle traps set up by poachers. Mr. Sanjeev Marik stated in his inaugural speech that wildlife crimes are just as ruthless and life-threatening as other severe felonies such as murder, assault, robbery, extortion, etc. In addition, wildlife crimes are intertwined with organized criminal syndicates that monopolize in activities that threaten human lives and even terrorist organizations like the Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Janjaweed, and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). These organizations have been and continue to be responsible for numerous crimes against humanity on both national and international levels. They are also known to profit from poaching and the illegal wildlife trade which help drive their activities. This is why it is extremely crucial to train and educate law enforcement agencies and military branches around the world on how to combat wildlife crimes in an effort to target and bring down global criminal syndicates and terrorist organizations threatening human and animal lives.

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