GUWAHATI: Addressing city-based scribes from London through video conferencing as part of Guwahati Press Club’s ‘Meet the Press’ programme, Sophie Grigg, Senior Research and Advocacy Officer, Survival International said “tasked with protecting wildlife, foresters often try to cover up their inefficiency and corruption by terrorizing indigenous people inhabiting areas near forests. But without taking these people into confidence, it is impossible to preserve forests and wildlife. Merely arming forest guards with sophisticated weaponry actually complicates the conservation effort. Referring to Kaziranga national park, she said “while a large number of rhinos have been gunned down in the past five years, the killing of poachers too have continued apace.” Coming out strongly against ‘shoot at sight’ powers she said that the outcome of shooting down poachers is that the masterminds remain in the dark. And it is the masterminds who keep pushing in new poachers to take the place of those who have fallen to foresters’ bullets. “By all means, catch poachers alive and prosecute them, but do find out who are pulling the strings. Conservation policies should also factor in the traditional knowledge of indigenous people inhabiting forests and surrounding areas” she commented. It may be recalled that International Tribal Rights advocacy organization ‘Survival International’ strongly supported the BBC documentary ‘Killing for Conservation’ which riled the Kaziranga authority and Indian government last year for claiming long-standing human rights violation and extra-judicial killings of poachers in the national park in thename of conservation.
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