‘Police are better empowered to deal with wildlife crime’

Guwahati, July 2: As forest personnel’s role in preventing wildlife crime is limited to their jurisdiction of protected areas like sanctuaries and national parks etc., the police forces have to shoulder a bigger responsibility in preventing and investigating such crimes.

“Police have a more important role to play in tackling and investigating wildlife crimes than forest officials who have limitations in carrying of investigation outside the protected forest/wildlife areas.

“However, there have to be close coordination between the police and forest officials in investigating and preparing a watertight case related to any wildlife crime to be presented before the concerned court so that guilty persons are handed maximum possible punishment,” said wildlife crime investigation expert and a consultant in International Rhino Foundation (IRF), Rahul Dutta.

He was making a presentation in an interactive workshop on ‘Wildlife Crime Scenario and its Various Dimensions’ organized for a large group of police officials of Morigaon district in the conference room of office of Superintendent of Police today.

The workshop was organized by biodiversity research and conservation organization Aaranyak in cooperation with Morigaon Police.

The Superintendent of Police (SP), Aparna Natarajan while inaugurating the workshop, said in view of the vast illegal network of wildlife criminals and illegal wildlife trade, it is not possible only for police and forest personnel to prevent wildlife crime sans cooperation from people and NGOs which are focused on conservation of wildlife and have expertise in dealing with wildlife crime.

The police official further pointed out that though wildlife crime was not in primary focus of police department, such crimes must be given due importance by the police in view of the alarming dimension of wildlife crime and illegal trade which is 4th largest in the world after illegal trade in drugs, arms and human trafficking and involvement militants in it.

Making a presentation in the workshop, globally reputed rhino conservation expert and the CEO of Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar flagged the salient features of the Northeast biodiversity hotspot and the huge responsibility the police force in the region to protect the precious bio resources in the region.

He cited instances when wildlife crime especially poaching and trading in wildlife registered sharp rise when there is a social and political unrest in a particular area as the police’s focus shifted to maintaining law and order situation.

He explained how wildlife crime because of its global dimension and involvement of militants poses threat to the national security and provides a ‘win win’ situation to a particular country inimical  to India’s interests.

Senior Advocate of Gauhati High Court, Prashanta Chaudhury addressing the workshop focused on the power entrusted to the police forces by the law of the land in dealing with wildlife crimes. He cited various court cases related to wildlife crime to explain the important role of police force in tackling wildlife crime.

Over 30 police officers of Morigaon district in the rank of Additional SPs, DSPs, Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors including probationary officers participated in the workshop which was followed by an interactive session where questions related to investigation procedure in wildlife crime were addressed to by the resource persons.

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