Wildlife NGOs in Uttarakhand told to furnish permission, funds details
The forest department has asked eight non-government organisations (NGOs) working for wildlife conservation in Uttarakhand to furnish details on permission for their operation and sources of funds.dehradun Updated: Oct 10, 2017 19:34 IST
The forest department has asked eight non-government organisations (NGOs) working for wildlife conservation in Uttarakhand to furnish details on permission for their operation and sources of funds.
“Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the NGOs have to take permission of the chief wildlife warden. I have demanded details about the permission,” chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati told Hindustan Times.
A paradise for wildlife lovers, the hill state also hits headlines for man-animal conflicts and wildlife trafficking. With limited resources, the department undertakes tasks on the ground -- field surveys, trainings, and developing intelligence network -- and cracks the whip on wildlife crime. NGOs assist the department, but some are more active in busting animal parts smuggling.
Officials say NGOs get major funds from national and foreign sources as the state government provides them a meagre amount for building capacity and maintaining dialogue with locals in conflict-prone areas.
Some officials say about 95% of wildlife seizures in the state are orchestrated by the NGOs for getting higher funding from foreign agencies.
“NGOs give key information about smuggling during seizure incidents either to forest or police department. The question is how do they come to know? Certainly, they can’t have thousands of people like us. In my opinion, 95% seizures are instigated by local members of these NGOs,” a senior forest officer said, requesting anonymity.
Five tiger skin seizures by the police special task force (STF) were reported in 2016. An NGO, ‘The Eye of The Tiger Trust’, which claimed to have been involved during investigation, alleged involvement of forest officers in hiding facts.
Delhi-based Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) claims 78 leopard deaths in the state since last year -- 37 due to poaching. The website of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) says no tiger poaching has been reported in the state this year and six skins were recovered in 2016.
The forest department issued the letter to NGOs a month ago. Five NGOs have given details about the projects they are working on; three are yet to submit data. “If the NGOs won’t submit details within next week, then I will blacklist them,” Khati said.
“Has the department sent this letter to all NGOs, whether big or small? Do they have the data on the number of NGOs operational here? No NGO can work inside forests without the approval of concerned forest officer,” said Rajeev Mehta of The Eye of The Tiger Trust.