Plea for BSF’s proactive role in wildlife trade (India)

By January 7, 2020 Antipoaching, Illegal trade
The Telegraph India | January 5, 2020

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Wildlife conservationists have asked the BSF to play a proactive role in prevention of clandestine trade in wildlife parts that paves the way for entry of arms and contraband drugs into India.

At a sensitisation workshop on wildlife crime prevention at the BSF headquarters, Patgaon, on Saturday, wildlife conservation biologist Bibhab Kumar Talukdar and wildlife crimes mitigation expert Rahul Datta flagged the important role that the BSF can play in preventing trans-border wildlife trade.

Talukdar, who is the CEO and secretary-general of Aaranyak, chair of the Asian Rhino Specialist Group of the IUCN and Asia coordinator of International Rhino Foundation (IRF), elaborated on the global and local wildlife crime scenario and its link to illegal arms trade and insurgency.

He said agencies have found that in the past six to eight years, cadres of some insurgent groups based in Manipur and Nagaland have killed rhinos to procure arms to continue their supremacy.

“The lone survivor of Baihata Chariali accident, in which three of his partners died after killing a rhino in Gorumara national park in 2017, was a cadre of a Manipur-based insurgent organisation as per investigation done by agencies,” Talukdar said.

Talukdar said the Northeast, which has a rich biodiversity, needs special attention in terms of resources documentation and conservation. He added that the BSF must wake up to playing an important role in prevention of wildlife trade.

Datta of the IRF raised an alarm about huge money involved in global illegal wildlife trade that has attracted direct involvement of hunting of endangered species like tigers and one-horned rhinos by organised insurgents armed with sophisticated weapons and organised gangs with global outreach. He presented pictorial evidence of well-armed Northeast militants’ involvement in killing of rhinos in protected areas in Assam. He called for strict vigil by the BSF to prevent cross-border movement of wildlife parts.

The US state department estimates that wildlife trafficking is the third largest type of illegal trade after drugs and weapons with the value of smuggled goods totalling about $10 billion a year.

The officiating inspector-general of the BSF, Guwahati frontier, K. K. Gulia, said, “Balanced biodiversity is a must for any country and the presentation made by wildlife conservation experts were an eye-opener as it highlighted how wildlife crimes have become a threat to the nation’s security for its link to illegal trades in weapons and drugs.” The workshop was organised by the LAD of Aaranyak, in association with the BSF Frontier Headquarter in Guwahati.

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