States having big cats could get State Wildlife Crime Control Bureau soon, said official sources on Friday. The idea is to have an extensive network of sources and officers in states to beat wildlife crime.
On the line Delhi-based Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) having regional arms in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, and Jabalpur, the left out states having good number of the tigers could get separate offices.
WCCB is a division of the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC).
Debabrata Swain, the member secretary NTCA who is privy to the development, told Hindustan Times, “There’s certainly a gap in terms of intelligence in states. And we don’t want to take chances. That’s the reason why state bureaus would work as independent entity dealing with related crime. We are seriously thinking to make a move on that front.”
Despite ban on tiger poaching and smuggling, India reports nearly 20% skin seizure each year. In 2016, out of 121 total tiger deaths, 22 were skins seized-18.18%. This year within four months, 34 tiger mortality incidents have been reported of which 6 are skin seizure. The figures come from official website of NTCA.
Particularly after five tiger skins were seized from Uttarakhand in 2016 following which even then union minister Prakash Javedakar had written to the state government to ensure conservation of big cats, the authority is cautious.
“Uttarakhand has high density of tigers owing to which adjoining forest divisions also have healthy population. But, we need strong nexus of officers, sources and informers that should help in avoiding poaching. Currently, all agencies across the country catch criminals once poaching is done,” said Abhishekh Kumar of Traffic NGO.
The need for such state bureaus is even felt by the officers that are facing tough time cracking whip on habitual offenders. In Uttarakhand, an assistant principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF) rank officer looks after intelligence but he is one man army and uses field officers and staff as and when needed.
The erstwhile Congress government failed to approve the structure of Anti Poaching Cell proposed about 3 years ago to government engaging more forest officers to beat wildlife crime. But, the proposal is in cold storage.
“If the matter will be brought before me, I would work towards strengthening intelligence,” said Harak Singh Rawat, the forest minister.