Obsession With Wildlife Meat Has To Change For Wildlife Conservation, Says Nagaland Official - Eastern Mirror
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Obsession with wildlife meat has to change for wildlife conservation, says Nagaland Official

By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Jan 20, 2024 10:38 pm
File photo of a trapped wildcat sold on a highway in Nagaland. (EM Images)

KOHIMA — The ‘legitimacy’ given to hunting and the obsession with wildlife meat among the Nagas have to change if wildlife is to be conserved, observed Ved Pal Singh, Chief Wildlife Warden, Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Nagaland.

Speaking to Eastern Mirror, the wildlife official said that it will be a herculean task for the department to check hunting or poaching in the state as long as society attaches some kind of legitimacy to hunting and eating of wildlife meat.

“So, first the people have to realise that this is legally wrong, ethically wrong and morally wrong. Then only we can be far more effective (in conserving wildlife),” he said.

While informing that the department has modern technologies in place to thwart and monitor the movement of bush meat hunting and related wildlife crimes, he admitted that these technologies can only be used in compact and confined areas.

Given the department’s limited manpower and resources, it is very difficult to patrol every nook and cranny to contain wildlife crimes, he said.

As far as Nagaland is concerned, it’s very difficult to use any technology; wildlife conservation must mostly depend on the awareness of the society, he added.

On the part of the department, it has taken action in the past and would continue to do so, against any wildlife crime being reported or that comes to the notice of the department, assured the chief wildlife warden.

Illegal wildlife trade hotspot

The forest official pointed out that Dimapur is the hotspot for illegal wildlife trade, as not only wild animals hunted from adjoining districts, but also from Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, find their way to Dimapur markets.

Dimapur and Kohima, being the affluent urban settlements, villagers bring whatever they had hunted to these two cities sell them, he said.

“As long as there are people willing to buy wild meat; as long as there are people who consider wild birds to be a delicacy, there will always be a section of people willing to sell these things,” he said.

5 cases of wildlife crimes registered

Meanwhile, as many as five cases relating to wildlife crimes have been registered in the state in the recent years.

Warden of Kiphire Wildlife Division, M Limaba informed that two cases were registered in the division during 2020-2023, and the violators were fined. He also cited cases of animals being rescued.

Warden of Dimapur Wildlife Division, H Tokaho Kinimi said that three cases have been registered in the division, besides other minor offences, from 2020 till date.

He informed that the department registered cases for whatever reports it had received and imposed fines on the violators, while some were jailed as per the legal provisions.

He also said the quantum of penalty varies, as per the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, with a maximum penalty of imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to INR 2 lakh.

Manpower shortage, limited resources

The official informed that a wildlife division set-up, excluding the Intangki National Park, usually consists of 25-30 staff, and with limited human resource, the wildlife personnel find it difficult to go to every village and monitor illegal hunting or poaching activities.

“It (hunting and poaching) is a social evil and the society has to wake up and make use of the infrastructure that the government has put in place. The society and its citizens have to be active, as it is simply not possible that the department will have personnel in all the remote villages and everywhere,” Singh said

He went on to inform that the department has been working on two aspects: sensitisation and awareness campaigns from village to village, depending on the financial resources, and through articles in the media and other platforms.

The other aspect is the enforcement part where the department actively engages in catching the violators.

On the positive side, the wildlife official shared his delight that cases of wildlife meat sale at Naga Shopping Arcade, Dimapur, and on the highway stretch near Pherima and other areas, have come down drastically.

The way forward

Citing community initiatives taken in wildlife conservation in the state, including by villages like Khonoma, Sendenyu and some in Kiphire district, the chief wildlife warden underscored the need to replicate these models.

He said ‘wildlife is an asset,’ citing Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand and Kaziranga National Park, Assam, that are generating considerable revenue through wildlife tourism.

He said that the choice is upon the people to either hunt wildlife or to conserve them, which can be part of the developmental processes with huge scope for revenue generation.

While expounding on the role of the administration, village councils, youth bodies and civil society organisations, to check and ban illegal hunting and poaching, Singh said that the government also should harden its stand and work in tandem with the society to make a difference.

“Of course things have improved a lot, actually, but there is still a long way to go,” he added.

By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Jan 20, 2024 10:38:01 pm
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