Bijay Sankar Bora, The Shillong Times | February 21, 2021
BANSBARI RANGE (MANAS NATIONAL PARK) : Low conviction rate in respect of wildlife crime cases has remained a cause for concern as was reflected during an interactive session on wildlife issues organized at Bansbari Range of Manas National Park on Sunday by Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) in association with Aaranyak and in coordination with Forest Department on the BTC,
Addressing the interactive session, Anindya Swargiray, the Head of the Forest Department in Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), expressed concern that even as there has been a rise in incidence of wildlife crimes in the BTC area, the conviction rate in respect of these offences has remained abysmally low.
He said encroachment of forest and wildlife protection areas has been alarming in the BTC areas besides the incidents of hunting of wild animals. He said unless there was high conviction rate, it would be difficult to prevent such crimes against wildlife.
He observed that negligence on part of the ground staff dealing with wildlife crimes resulted in lesser conviction of the guilty in the court of law and underlined the need for raising the awareness level about the relevant laws related to wildlife crimes among the ground staff to achieve the goal of higher conviction rate.
The Field Director of Manas National Park and Tiger Reserve, Amal Chandra Sharma, IFS, discussed in detail about the continuing combat against wildlife crimes in the vast Manas landscape and flagged highpoints achieved as well as hurdles encountered in the process.
District and Session Judge of Chirang, Utpal Prasad deliberated on various key procedures need to be followed while investigating wildlife offences so that the guilty can’t go scot free sans facing adequate amount of punishment.
He discussed on various provisions in Wildlife Protection Act to death with such offences and also highlighted the utility of the investigation handbook brought out by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) in dealing with wildlife crimes by the investigating agencies/ officers.
Member Secretary of Assam State Legal Service Authority (ASLSA), Nayan Shankar Barua coordinated the interactive session with elan and also highlighted mandate of ASLSA and about significance of past wildlife crime prevention workshops organised by ASLSA in coordination with Aaranyak in other parts of the state.
Barua said legal service is a very wide concept and lauded the involvement of frontline staffs for their involvement in exercising relevant laws for checking and dealing with wildlife crimes. He pointed out that ignorance about the law in vogue and negligence in handling wildlife crime cases were mostly responsible for wildlife crime cases lost in the legal battle.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aaranyak, and internationally reputed rhino conservation expert, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar participating in the interaction remarked: “We at Aaranyak give priority to protection of wildlife because it has become a matter of national security. We now need the cooperation of the Judiciary more than ever before to see that cases related to wildlife crimes get the justice they deserve in the court of law.”