Monday, April 02, 2007

India losing its precious wildlife

I just came back from a trip to Sariska. At this time, there is a lot of dryness in the air, and heat is slowly increasing. One of the moments that really hit me was the placard that talked about the tiger. Even though tigers have disappeared from Sariska, their placard still remains, a visible sign of the inaction of the Government.
Over a period of time, the tigers started vanishing from Sariska, but any such reports were dismissed by the relevant departments as untrue. Periodic marks were displayed as proof that tigers were still present in Sariska. But it was finally confirmed that the tigers were finally exterminated from Sariska, and the people who were responsible for ensuring that the natural park is free from poachers have never been held responsible. Just a committee has been set up by the Prime Minister to figure out what to do, but one really does not expect this committee to do anything worthwhile.
In the meantime, the pride of India's wildlife conservation effort is coming under the sway of poachers. The Gir sanctuary in Gujarat, the main sanctuary of the Asiatic lion is fully under the threat of poachers. As this report points out:

The Gir sanctuary, the only abode left of the majestic Asiatic lion in world, has been in news since last few days after six of the beasts were found poached and their body parts stolen from within the 1,400 sqkm protected area.

This is a major loss, and yet the only thing we hear is that the Environment ministry is looking into it. The fear is that they will keep on looking after the matter while we lose our national heritage to poachers.
There is really not much focus on making things better. One argument is that villagers living inside the parks cause problems, and there is a sustained movement to get them out. The reality is that these villagers can live in a sort of peaceful co-existence with the animals, and they are often the people who can provide reliable information on the going-ons in the jungle. But a typical high-handed behaviour of the officialdom is pushing these villagers away and preventing information flow of the sort that will prevent the poachers from killing India's wildlife wealth.
The Government really needs to ensure that people well versed in the co-existence of wildlife and humans and who are experts in the field be the ones who should be making policy and drafting laws for saving India's wildlife.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:37 AM