I was asked this question based on some news paper reports. Are we able to capture wildanimals for treatment/research/rescue without any physical harm? There are some successful efforts and there are some amazingly incompetent handlings in the past. Rather than just blaming the forest department, we should question whether our officials and Vets are well equipped as their counterparts abroad?
I feel there are several reasons for the methods practiced in India not to be at par with those practiced abroad. One of the reasons is lack of adequate knowledge on all the species. I would love to stand corrected on this issue. I feel the following few reasons have their impact:
Facilities for Scientific research:
There are few places where true scientific research is done. It is difficult here, as the environment for scientific research is not there. That's the reason, students who go abroad excel. The facilities there are amazing.
Access to Widlife habitats:
It is not always easy to gain access to wildlife parks and sactuaries. The requirements of Researchers is different than the casual tourist. A mechanism needs to be worked out. Greater sensitivities and understanding needs to be displayed towards the researchers.
There are few research institutes in India – not commensurate with the biodiversity that is at stake. Is one institute - Wildlife Institute of India – adequate for our needs?
When we talk about the role of Vets, I am inclined to think about IVRI (Indian Veterinary Research Institute). I find that they do all sorts of research, but are removed from wild life. How will a vet know the exact dosage of anesthesia to be used to tranquilise a tiger?
In one of the premier national parks of India, a male tiger was injured by another dominant male tiger. The well meaning officials wanted to treat it. They tranquilised the injured tiger, but the dosage was high and the tiger succumbed to it. I won't blame the forest department. They took all steps. Unfortunately, the expertise is simply not available in India. So it is a systemic fault. Results are more often seen in the way we handle the animals in our Zoos. Lots of cases of animals die in Zoos, due to improper medication. There have been instances of tigers or other endangered animals dying within days of being shifted to a Zoo.
In India, we promote intellectual sterility. Promotions are taken for granted based on considerations other than merit.
Availability of Funds:
I don't agree that availability of funds is a problem. The issue is that funds are directed to few places. So few places (few big National parks) get all the funds from well meaning donors. Indian researchers also face a constraint vis-à-vis their foreign counterparts. An Indian researcher needs to prove himself or herself more for receiving the same level of funding.
Quality of people:
The emphasis of students during their 10+2 days is to go for Engineering or Medical. Once the cream is separated, then the best of the rest goes for other courses. The reason is quiet simple. Other disciplines don't have the attraction of engineering and Medical education. Unfortunate, but true. So the best of the rest goes else where. However, based on my interactions with other Nationalities, I find the average level of IQ in India is much higher. So even the best of the rest is good enough. Having said that, the flow of quality students will increase if the jobs are well paying and if these jobs/professions are marketed to generate excitement among students and general people. How many times a researcher or forest official is in news?
Can we do something about it?