Massive awareness required to bust myth about wildlife parts: Gauhati High Court judges
Guwahati/IBNS: The Judges of Gauhati High Court on Tuesday underlined the urgent need to create a massive awareness drive by all stakeholders targeting the common people especially students to bust the myth that wildlife parts are beneficial to human beings in many ways, a belief born out of superstition.
The Gauhati High Court Judges Manas Ranjan Pathak and Sanjay Medhi emphasized that the investigating agencies should be well-versed in the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2022.
This would ensure a proper and thorough investigation process, including during arrests and seizures, leading to an improvement in the conviction rate in wildlife crime cases.
The judges spoke at a workshop on wildlife crime prevention held at Orang National Park and Tiger Reserve in Assam, which was attended by multiple stakeholders.
The judges also stressed the need for a collective effort to raise awareness and dispel myths surrounding wildlife products.
They suggested that a successful campaign would drastically reduce the demand for these items and ultimately lead to a decrease in wildlife crimes such as hunting and illegal trade.
Justice Sanjay Medhi highlighted the important role a public prosecutor has to play in a case related to wildlife crime.
Justice Pathak, who is also the executive chairman of Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA), especially underlined that unlike the IPC, the Wildlife Protection Act puts the onus on the accused to prove that they are not guilty before the court of law and hence the investigation procedure and the charge-sheet must be flawless to ensure that the guilty don’t get away scot-free.
Making a presentation in the workshop which was held under the aegis of ASLSA, Orang National Park Authority and Aaranyak with support from David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), the Member Secretary of ASLSA, Nayan Shankar Barua explained in detail the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and the proper procedure to be followed by investigation agencies in dealing with wildlife crime cases.
Noted wildlife conservation expert and secretary general-cum-CEO of Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar made an updated and enlightening
presentation on the global scenario of burgeoning wildlife crimes in the workshop attended by a distinguished gathering including the Division Forest Officer of Orang National Park and Tiger Reserve, Pradipta Baruah.
Dr Talukdar explained how wildlife trade has emerged as the fourth largest global crime after drugs, human trafficking and arms smuggling.
He explained how unholy relationship between global wildlife criminals and arms smugglers have posed threat to national security.
He also said by virtue of altitudinal gradient North East India is a biodiversity-rich area and hence stands vulnerable to wildlife crimes like hunting and illegal trade.
The workshop was marked by very substantive interactions between participants and resource persons from the legal fraternity and wildlife crime/conservation sectors.
It was attended by judicial officers, representatives of the Assam Forest Department, Assam Police and Customs officials.
The team of Aaranyak led by Dr Bibhab Talukdar and comprising of Dr Jimmy Bora, Ajoy Kumar Das, Ivy Farheen Hussain, Kakoli Baishya and Goura Baidya contributed substantially to make the workshop a success.