Guwahati, July 2: Police have a more important role to play in tackling and investigating wildlife crimes than forest officials who have limitations in carrying of investigation outside the protected forest/wildlife areas.
However, there have to be close coordination between the police and forest officials in investigating and preparing a watertight case related to any wildlife crime to be presented before the concerned court so that guilty persons are handed maximum possible punishment under the law.
This was stated by wildlife crime investigation expert and a consultant in International Rhino Foundation (IRF), Rahul Dutta while making a presentation in an interactive workshop on “Wildlife Crime Scenario and its Various Dimensions” with a large group of police officials of Morigaon district in the conference room of office of Superintendent of Police today.
The workshop was organized by biodiversity research and conservation organization Aaranyak in cooperation with Morigaon Police.
Setting the tone of the workshop, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Aparna Natarajan said that given the vast illegal network of wildlife criminals and illegal wildlife trade, it was not possible only for police and forest personnel to prevent wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade unless cooperation from people and NGOs which are focused on conservation of wildlife and have expertise in dealing with various aspects of wildlife crime.
The police official further pointed out that though wildlife crime was not in prime focus of police department, such crimes must be given due importance by the police in view of the alarming dimension of wildlife crime and trade which is 4th largest in the world after illegal trade in drugs, arms and human trafficking and involvement militants in it.
Making a presentation in the workshop, a globally reputed rhino conservation expert and the CEO of Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar flagged the salient features of the Northeast biodiversity hotspot and the huge responsibility the police force in the region to protect the precious faunal and floral resources in the region.
He highlighted instances when wildlife crime especially poaching and trading in wildlife registered sharp rise when there is a social and political unrest in a particular area . He said during such tumultuous phase, the police’s focus shifted to maintaining law and order situation and obviously attention to wildlife crimes slackens.
Senior Advocate of Gauhati High Court, Prashanta Chaudhury addressing the workshop highlighted the power entrusted to the police forces by the law of the land in dealing with wildlife crimes. He cited various court cases related to wildlife crime to explain the important role of police force in tackling wildlife crime.
Over 30 police officers of Morigaon district in the rank of Additional SPs, DSPs, Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors including probationary officers participated in the workshop that was very interactive and many questions related to investigation procedure in wildlife crime were answered to by the resource persons.