My Take on Wildlife Crime in Nagaland
Since time immemorial, the Nagas take great pride in hunting and killing of wild animals. Wild animals have been killed for meat, leisure and prestige with the best portion of the kill going to the one who made the kill. This liking for hunting which has passed down since ages continues to be in our DNA. In fact, it has taken an aggressive form with modern scientific weapons, chemicals and equipments. This has transformed our once rich forest with abundant wild animals and birds, almost bare and naked.
The ever increasing demand and insatiable craving for bush meat, attaching medicinal property to almost all creatures found in wild has resulted in reckless killing of wildlife for commercial purpose which has drastically reduced wildlife population in our forests. Almost vast majority of people consider it acceptable to exploit and kill wildlife for leisure and fun, not realizing their action is as serious as any other crime. This, if left uncontrolled, unchecked and unregulated, will soon reach to a point beyond retrieval. Surprisingly, most of the demands for bush meats seem to be coming from the educated lot who raise the concern about wildlife crime on one hand but with the other, still involves in the said crime through their demand and purchase of wildlife items for their consumption. It’s time we raise both our hands, take it our responsibility and stop wildlife crime. Referring to wildlife crime in the state, a young IFS officer remarked, “people just don’t know what they are killing, in next 10-20 years by the time they realise, it will be too late”. When people from outside the state have so much concern and care for the wildlife in our state, we must urgently realise its importance and refrain from doing only lip-service and blame game but instead do the required necessary to reverse the gear of time to once wildlife wealth.
For Zero wildlife crime, the participation and cooperation of the general public is indispensable. Many believe wildlife as the responsibility of the forest department and so leave it to the department for its protection and preservation. This mindset should change. Wildlife is a universal treasure, it belongs to all and so, it must be every person’s responsibility to protect it in whatever way possible. Although the government in general and the forest department in particular have been making sincere efforts to curb the menace of wildlife crime by bringing in various regulations from time to time, we should understand that enforcement alone cannot stop wildlife crime. Enforcement must go hand in hand with maximum public participation in order to effectively deal with wildlife crimes; for its prevention, and for protection and preservation of wildlife. The very fact that the transformation from massacre of Amur Falcon to zero killing of the bird could be achieved through active cooperation, collaboration and coordination of the public, NGO’s, Village Councils with the concerned department and the government ; the same must also be replicated while dealing with other wildlife crimes.
“Only when the last of the animals horns, tusks, skin and bones have been sold, will mankind realise that money can never buy back our wildlife” — Paul Oxton.
Hukai H. Zhimo