Wildlife Trust of India

Conserve nature, especially endangered species and threatened habitats, in partnership with communities and governments.
Mar 10, 2016

Wildlife Crime Prevention Training at Kanha Tiger Reserve India

WTI
WTI's Jose Louies during the training

Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) team along with  Madhya Pradesh Forest Department organised Wildlife Crime Prevention training at Kanha Tiger Reserve  from January 11 to 13' 2016-  had participation of 40 forest staff from Balaghat and Jabalpur forest circles. 

Rajendra Singh Chauhan, a Range Officer with the South Balaghat Division in Madhya Pradesh, has been actively working with the MP Forest Department team in busting the nexus of traders and poachers who deal in pangolin scales. In November 2014, their team apprehended traders with three kilograms of pangolin scales and cash. They also arrested suspects from six different states and busted a crucial network. The investigation is ongoing and the team is pursuing 12 individuals involved in the trade of pangolin scales. Till this point, everything transpired as planned but Chauhan and his team faced a legal hassle. They were not sure whether they had to issue a transit remand or protection warrant. Unaware of other legal procedures, the team was losing hope.


“While handling such cases, one of the major drawbacks is that the Forest Department personnel are not aware of court proceedings and other details which are crucial for getting these criminals behind bars. We sometimes fail to bring the guilty to the book because of the lack of knowledge of certain sections and sub sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. We don’t know the legal procedures and despite all the hard work, we often fail in getting the right sentence for these criminals,” he said.

During the course of training, the participants were informed about various sections and sub-sections of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; wildlife crimes and modus operandi of poachers; criminal procedure code; crime scene investigation; case presentation by investigation team in the court room; wildlife crime investigation and documentation; and complaint filing at court. 

Those who represented WTI included Jose Louies, Head, Enforcement; Advocate YK Soni; Dr RP Mishra, Regional Head; and Achintya Tripathi. Interactive sessions during the course of the training saw participants enthusiastically interacting with the team and asking questions whenever in doubt. Chauhan was the one who was most active during the three day long training programme.

He added, “Such trainings help us understand that what legal procedures should be used in court to get these poachers and others the maximum sentence. When we produce these criminals in court we usually can’t answer the judges and the lawyers in legal terms. Through these trainings, we get to know about all the sections and sub-sections of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, and this will help us in not repeating mistakes. This eliminates any doubts that we have about legal proceedings,” he added. He went on to say that sometimes the forest staff takes a backseat because they think that they could end up becoming the guilty party. “These trainings benefit us and empower us.” 

His views were echoed by others who believed that trainings like these would go a long way in empowering the forest staff that is unaware of their powers. The training module also had a practical session on crime scene investigation wherein everyone participated with great enthusiasm. 

The fresher training was followed by two day refresher training which saw participation of 36 frontline forest staff. The training was held from January 15 to 16, 2016. 

JS Chauhan, Field Director, Kanha Tiger Reserve, while addressing the participants said, “You need to practice this on a day to day basis otherwise it will be of no use. The whole idea of this training is to help you in investigation, protection and if needed conviction. And in future the effects of this training should reflect in that. Trainings keep happening but this training has different significance. Your way of working will get refined by this training and I hope that everyone will learn something new from here and implement it in their day to day activities.”

In a bid to equip and strengthen the frontline forest staff of the country, WTI has been conducting Wildlife Crime Prevention Training Programme under the VRP since 2001. VRP follows a multi-pronged strategy with four thrust areas abbreviated as TEAM: Training, Equipping, Awareness and Morale Boosting, to broadly facilitate capacity building and strengthen spirits of personnel in tough field circumstances. “Training in Madhya Pradesh for frontline field staff of territorial and Forest Development Corporation divisions along with the staff posted in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries is just another step in making our forests safer for wildlife," said Suresh Chand, Senior Advisor, VRP, WTI. 

Dec 29, 2015

Sensitising people to prevent kite string injuries

Pledges were signed during street plays
Pledges were signed during street plays

The festival of Makar Sankranti is one of the few Hindu festivals that falls on the same day every year according to the Gregorian calendar.It signifies the end of the winters and the heralding of spring.Widely celebrated around India, the rituals followed on this include exchanging of sweets made from sesame and jaggery and the flying of kites The gods who have slumbered for six months are have awakened and the kites are flown to the portals of heaven that are now open. 

This idyllic festival can have lethal connotations for birds, however as kite strings (also called manjha)  are often heavily coated with powdered glass to give the kite fliers an advantage in their fiercely fought battles. The strings can be so sharp that people flying kites often bandage their hands to prevent injuries. Another threat that has recently been added is the introduction of "Chinese manjha" which is made from nylon. The nylon strings are popular as they are fairly cheap and do not degrade. Hence they remain a threat to birds long after the festivities have ended.

The kite flying festivities are enjoyed with vigour in the city of Jaipur with numerous kites dotting the skies for days after.  Last year the Jaipur Administration banned the use of Chinese manjha and the flying of kites during the hours that birds are most active. i. e. between 6 to 8 am and 5 to 7pm.

 However, it is important that these bans are enforced and adhered to by the public. In order to do this, the project team has started a campaign to reach out to the people of Jaipur to senstize them towards the plight of birds. A special poster for the campaign, designed by the team, was issued by the District Collecter. This poster has already been put up in various schools, colleges and other institutions.

Awareness camps have been set up in two schools so far where the team spoke to the students. Students signed and recited the following pledge:

1). I will not fly kites from 6.00-8.00AM & 5.00-7.00PM .
2). I will not buy Chinese manjha.
3). I will dispose of leftover manjha in waste bins only. 

Students also pledged to remove manjha from at least five trees near their houses.

The campaign team has also set up two bird treatment camps for injured birds in prominent areas of the city.

Street plays were held at popular tourist spots like the Jantar Mantar, the City Palace and the Govind Dev Ji Temple. The plays were performed at times when the footfall in these areas is the highest thereby reaching out to a large number of people. Over 400 people signed the pledge during these plays. 

As the festival draws nearer, the campaign is intensifying its activties with peace rallies and candle light vigils. more sensitisation programs have also been initiated around the city.

Street plays were held at popular places
Street plays were held at popular places
The poster being issued by the district collector
The poster being issued by the district collector

Links:

Dec 22, 2015

Legal Assistance Training in Pench TR

WTI team interacting with Forest Department team
WTI team interacting with Forest Department team
Whilst the anti snare walks are an integral part of what we do to protect our tigers, it is just as important to us to ensure that the poachers are punished to the fullest extent of the law. We work with the Forest Department in various Tiger Reserves by providing legal assistance as well

A Central India legal assistance review meeting was held in Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, on October 16, 2015. The joint meeting of the Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) was conducted with an aim to strengthen mechanism to ensure that no criminal is let off scot-free and evaluate the legal assistance provided to the forest department on a monthly basis. The meeting was held in the presence of the Field Director, Pench TR; WTI's Regional Head, a WTI Advocate, and external legal advisor  and the concerned ACF’s/Range Officers of the Pench TR.

WTI has been providing legal assistance to Pench Tiger Reserve by assisting the forest authorities in filing cases comprehensively and also advising them on pending cases from these areas. The aim of the meeting is to prevent crimes against wildlife as per the definitions and provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; achieve high rate of wildlife crime conviction; and take cognizance of all wildlife cases filed with the help of IFAW-WTI’s legal assistance team in the trial courts.

It was decided that a uniform reporting format will be maintained for all the wildlife crime cases and a cumulative list of the wildlife crime cases in Pench Tiger Reserve be prepared. Accordingly, the cases are prioritized on the basis of the seriousness of crime, i.e. schedule, seizure and category. They should then be dealt accordingly. During the course of the meeting, the participants also discussed how to reduce the delay in getting the update from the newly formed courts to increase efficacy. It was agreed that the above mentioned decisions taken in the meeting will be implemented at the earliest. This will steer a way towards the desired goals of ensuring high percentage/level of conviction of the wildlife criminals. Further, a meeting will be held in another three months to follow up the implementation of the decision and review the legal assistance under the guidance of the Field Director.

Mr Subhoranjan Sen, Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve, stated in the meeting that it is the primary duty of the forest staff to protect the wildlife and its habitat. To ensure the protection of the wildlife and its habitat, it is important to keep a check on the wildlife crimes happening in and around the Tiger Reserve, which is the primary duty and aim of the Forest Department. Further, he appreciated the legal assistance from WTI and asked the forest staff to take benefit from the same.

A detailed plan was formulated
A detailed plan was formulated
 
   

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