Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 4 Issue V

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 4 Issue V
This issue of IndiaWilds newsletter deals in penalty for poachers, false perception of wildlife on rise, eutrophication etc.

Editorial: A Bullet for the poacher

India’s wildlife and wilderness areas are facing unprecedented assault and battling for survival. Instead of a coherent strategy to tackle the issue, the various ministries of Government of India has been known to push for projects in the name of development, saving PSUs, energy security or strategy vis-a-vis our neighbouring country etc. Whereas this takes away a big chunk of pristine forests, our efforts to protect the remaining wilderness areas and its wildlife is also suffering from systemic deficiencies or plain inaction to such an extent that it is being accepted that India is lax in saving its wildlife. So it won’t be an exaggeration if it is said that we have virtually failed in our efforts to protect our natural heritage. Hardly a single day passes without the news of a tiger death in the hands of poachers or an elephant being electrocuted and its tusks cut off etc.

A majority of the deaths of wild animals can be attributed to poaching. Of course habitat loss due to dams, canals and other infrastructure projects take up its toll. The forest department in most of the states have vacant posts, old staff who are not physically fit to undertake patrolling, or demotivated due to less pay as well as irregular disbursement of salaries. In many places the staff are also focused on tourism. In such a scenario, where there are systemic deficiencies – there ought to be urgent steps to stem the rot.

One of the reasons for poachers not fearing the law was because of the very weak implementation and lax prosecution. A few organisations like WPSI, WTI etc have been doing a very good job in helping the Forest department in prosecution of the poachers, however systemic flaws needs to be rectified at the earliest to prevent poaching. Field staff wielding only a stick have virtually no powers to apprehend poachers if they resisted. There have been cases where foresters and rangers have been beaten, their faces blackened and murdered. When an ATM holding several lakhs of rupees is guarded by an armed guard, is our natural heritage of less importance that it is left to stick wielding old and unfit forest department staff?

In such a situation, the minimum thing that can be done is to provide arms to the patrolling team and protect them with laws and Government orders so that they can counter the menace of the poachers. Given the enormity of the challenge there is a strong requirement for a deterrent in form of stringent punishment levels like Capital punishment and empowering the forest department staff to shoot at sight.

Though Indian Government/Judiciary is yet to acknowledge that a heinous crime like poaching is akin to the rarest of the rare cases and merits capital punishment, the Government of Maharashtra has atleast understood part of the problem and taken steps to order “shoot at sight”. For further details please check here: http://indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9797

Without police powers – which the Assam Government has given to its forest staff to protect Rhino poaching – the forest department staff are harassed by police as well as human rights watch dogs. It would be pertinent to mention that a notification issued by Assam Govt. in July 2010, provides immunity to all ranks of forest staff from prosecution without prior sanction for using firearms and killing poachers both inside and outside national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved forests.

The Maharashtra Government has also promised to pay informers from a specially created fund. This is likely to result in actionable information leading to arrests of poachers.

While the hacking of the tiger into pieces (http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9755) and the subsequent outrage may have goaded the Maharashtra Government into ordering the shoot at sight order, our National Heritage animal the elephants are a victim of murderous attacks and are forgotten. While the sensationalistic media realizes that death of a tiger is news worthy and proceeds to cover it, not much happens in terms of reporting death of elephants.

Routinely poachers and villagers electrocute elephants, fire them with pellets, poison them with pesticides etc. However, hardly any action is taken. To make matters worse, the offences are repeated. In July 2010, the mass murders of elephants in Similipal Tiger Reserve first came to light. (http://indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4435 ). Now another case of mass murder of elephants have come to light when charred remains were found in nawana range of Similipal Tiger Reserve. (http://indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9743) It is ironic that when our elephant God is in distress, we are unable to take any effective action. Hindu mythology says Lord Vishnu had killed crocodile to save Gajaraj. In this age who will come to the elephant God’s rescue is a million dollar question.


The Government apart from branding elephant as the National Heritage Animal has done precious little to either protect wild elephants or their habitat. Pristine forests that serve as elephant habitat and harbor other wildlife are being denotified and given to mining companies and infrastructure projects. Fortunately, it appears that the recent proposal by the GoM (Group of Ministers) to create separate sector-wise forest advisory committees (FACs) have been rejected by the MoEF. However, the last word on this is not heard yet.

Other IndiaWilds Conservation Articles:
Wildlife on the Rise? A false perception: By N. Lakshminarayanan: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/wildlife-on-the-rise/

The Death of a Waterbody: By Dr. Rashmi Rekha Patra: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/the-death-of-a-waterbody-2/

Other Conservation Issues:
When Tourism goes Haywire:
In a shocking incident in Dandeli, tourists lynched a forest department official ACF MH Nayak in broad daylight who later succumbed to his injuries - http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9659

Supreme Court stops introduction of African Cheetahs in India:
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India stopped the ill-conceived African Cheetah introduction project in India and has opined that it has no conservation value. We had earlier written extensively about the fallacy of introducing an alien species like African Cheetah in India. http://indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1888

Leopard dies of thirst in Devdungari forest:
http://indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9845

Abolish Zoos:

Our Zoos continue to be killing fields. Sixty seven (67) animals have died in Alipore zoo at Calcutta.
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109

IndiaWilds sponsors biologist for workshop abroad
To contribute please click on the link below :
http://indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9629

Barricading Kaas Plateau:
Forest department is going to construct permanent structures to isolate Kaas plateau limiting movement of animals and fragmenting habitat. http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9846

 

A Call in the Rainforest:

“A Call in the Rainforest” – the first presentation of IndiaWilds is being awarded with 2nd Prize in the film festival organised by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and Environment Department, Govt. of Maharashtrahttp://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9837

Natural History:

Country note book : http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?p=48239#post48239

Wildlife Photography:

Images shared by our members between April 10th 2012 and May 9th 2012 depicting interesting behavior, habitat, rare species or which are just beautiful.

Cooling off by Sabyasachi Patra
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9609

Gaur by Rajan Kanagasabai
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9594

Majestic Look by Sucheth Lingachar
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9371

Lesser coucal immature by Kaustav Chatterjee
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9618

Black capped Kingfisher by Mrudul Godbole
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9367

My 8000th Post – Lightning in Sundarbans by Mrudul Godbole
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9682

Swash! – Abhishek Jamalabad
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9363

Compound Eye by Joshi Bhavya
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9578

Sundarbans Salt water Crocodile: by Sabyasachi Patra
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9615

King Cobra Swimming by Mrudul Godbole
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9473

A View of Siang River by Kaling Dai
http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9304

I look forward to your inputs and your support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in this beautiful country. For other interesting articles and photographs please check: http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/

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Regards,

Sabyasachi Patra
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Sabyasachi Patra

Sabyasachi is an award winning Cinematographer and shoots for international broadcasters, feature films and corporates to make a living. He is a passionate wildlife filmmaker and photographer and has won awards and accolades for his documentary 'A Call in the Rainforest'. He has been striving to make his films and photographs full of life and emotion and write articles to educate and evangelise the need for conserving the last tracts of vanishing wilderness and wildlife in our country. He hopes that his wildlife films, photographs and writings force people to pause, look, ponder and ultimately take action.
Sabyasachi Patra
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