IMPHAL: Flagging the ever-increasing graph of wildlife crime, especially trafficking in wildlife within India as well at the global level, the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court, Justice PV Sanjay Kumar on Monday underlined sustained collaboration among all the stakeholders, including various Government agencies and forces at the State and Central level.
Addressing a workshop on "Wildlife crime prevention – challenges, solutions and role of stake holders" in the auditorium of Manipur High Court, the Chief Justice said that in view of the changed scenario, wildlife crime, which is the fourth-largest illegal trade on the globe, requires also probing its link to narco-terrorism and arms smuggling and using of latest scientific mode on investigation such as DNA tests and wildlife forensics to increase conviction rate.
He said that it is necessary for holding training sessions, awareness workshops for forest, police, judiciary and Government agencies for effective tackling of wildlife crimes through synergized efforts in India, a country with major biodiversity.
He further said the North-East as well as the country as a whole stand vulnerable to wildlife crimes because of presence of porous international borders and rich prevalent biodiversity. He wished that the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 would have provisions to deal with illegal trade of exotic animals too.
According to a press release, other distinguished speakers at the workshop, which was organized by Manipur State Legal Services Authority in collaboration with research-based biodiversity conservation organisation Aaranyak, also agreed upon synergized action on part of multiple agencies as well as the community as a whole to mitigate wildlife crimes.
Justice MV Muralidaran on the Manipur High Court called for serious introspection on part of all agencies concerned about low reporting of wildlife crime in Manipur and delay in conviction of the guilty. He said that as a global citizen, it is the duty of every citizen to strive for protection of wildlife which is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He further raised alarm that India has become a source, destination and major trafficking route for illegal wildlife trade.
Justice A Bimol Singh of the High Court said that India is the 17th major biodiverse country in the world with 70 per cent of the planet's biodiversity, though it occupies less than 10 percent of the earth's surface area.
"The country being a treasure trove of flora and fauna, only law and Acts cannot protect the biodiversity unless there is synergy among law-enforcing forces, forest agencies and judiciary. There is a need for massive awareness drives and use of technology for prevention of wildlife crimes," he said.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Conservator of Forest, Manipur, Longjam Joykumar stated that since Manipur has rich biodiversity and close to the porous international border, it is vulnerable to wildlife crime and underlined the need for massive awareness among all stakeholders and strict enforcement of the WL (Protection) Act for prevention of such crimes.
The forest official rued delay in court proceedings and low conviction rates in case of wildlife crime cases and observed that usually the court tends to ignore the provisions for imprisonment of wildlife criminals who get away with only imposition of fines.