Amid COVID-19 lockdown, wildlife crimes spike in Northeast

Notwithstanding lockdown, poachers and criminals have found new ways to commit wildlife crimes in Assam
Amid COVID-19 lockdown, wildlife crimes spike in Northeast


GUWAHATI: Notwithstanding lockdown, poachers and criminals have found new ways to commit wildlife crimes in Assam and other States in the Northeast.

Since the entire administration, police and other government machineries are busy in enforcing the lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19; wildlife criminals have taken full advantage of the situation to commit their crimes with new modus operandi.

Wildlife conservationist Bibhab Talukdar pointed out, "The lockdown period in the past 45 days has definitely given Mother Earth time to heal the unabated wounds that she had to undertake due to increasing greed of humans on Earth. Due to the lockdown, there has been a significant decline in air pollution due to the non-plying of vehicles and non-operation of the gas-emitting industries; there is also less of water pollution due to less or no effluent discharges from companies into water sources; and the overall quality of air and water seems to have improved. We have also seen how a large flock of lesser whistling teal utilized the Dighali Pukhuri in the city for the past few days. Animals have got some freedom to use their traditional age-old habitats — some of which have now become animal corridors due to the destruction of habitats during lockdown."

Talukdar, who is the secretary general of Aaranyak and Asia coordinator of the International Rhino Foundation, told The Sentinel on Saturday that most people in Assam have wholeheartedly supported the lockdown. Unfortunately violating the lockdown ethics, wildlife criminals have been found to be quite active during this period.

"Villagers under the Kamargaon Police Station on the eastern side of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) rounded up a rhino poacher with arms and ammunition and handed him to the Police and Forest officials last month. Increasing illegal hunting in the eastern portion of the Manas National Park does reflect that wildlife criminals took full advantage of the situation," Talukdar added.

Dr Bibhuti Lahkar, an ardent conservationist working to save the grasslands, flora and fauna of Manas National Park, said that amid the nationwide lockdown, several incidents of wild animals being killed for food have surfaced in the North East.

An almost 10-feet-long King Cobra was killed by some residents of a village in the Naharlagun area of Arunachal Pradesh in April. Besides last month, some villagers in Golaghat district killed a leopard and decamped with its flesh, skin, claws, tail and teeth.

During the lockdown a video clip surfaced showing at least two men killing several deer, one civet and some other animals inside a forest in Nagaland and roasting them on a temporary platform.

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