Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Times of India

Indifference Towards Violators Is A Major Concern, Feel Experts

It is the second most lucrative illegal international trade after narcotics with global turnover of more than $20 billion and growing rapidly. In this scenario, conservation of endangered species such as tigers, is a major concern for wildlife experts and forest officials. The eight Asiatic lions in the Gir sanctuary of Gujarat that were poached in 2007, fell prey to this lucrative trade, said forest officials.

This issue was discussed at length at the wildlife crime management workshop at Gandhinagar. "The laws need to be reviewed in the wake of such cases and also to send out a clear message to the traders and poachers. Such cases are relevant today as lion poachers convicted by courts in Gujarat will be released later this year after having finished serving their sentence," said a senior DFS official.

Sameer Sinha, head of Traffic India, said in the workshop that the paradigm of conservation has drastically changed from pre-Independence to date. "Earlier, there used to be special teams for tiger culling in states like Madras owing to the large population of the big cats. Today, there are just 1,411 tigers in India. However, we are faring better than many of our south Asian counterparts in numbers and conservation," said Sinha.
Talking about illegal trade, he said that as India ranks sixth globally in biodiversity. The country is a lucrative ground for poachers and traders from around the world.

"Some times back, a Czech duo - a scientist and a poacher — were nabbed from Uttarakhand while they were stealing butterflies and beetles. It is our responsibility to conserve our biodiversity and ensure a stringent punishment by court of law," said Sinha.

According to him, the wildlife crimes are not considered as crimes at all by people at large. "For them, poaching of animal is not as serious a crime as rape or murder. According to wildlife protection acts, the maximum sentence for the poaching is seven years of imprisonment along with fine. However, I have not come across any case where the accused has been given the maximum sentence," he said.

He cited examples of wildlife criminals like Shabbir Husain Qureshi. Qureshi was arrested with one of the biggest consignments in Indian history — 4 tiger skins, 70 leopard skins and 18,000 leopard claws. After serving his sentence he quickly went back to poaching. He was again caught after seven years with a large quantity of such goods.

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