Police outdo forest department in cracking wildlife cases
DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand police’s special task force (STF) is making more crackdowns on poaching activities than the forest department even as both agencies are jointly working to check illegal wildlife trade.
Additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF), intelligence, Dhananjai Mohan has been highlighting the forest department’s manpower shortage. He had suggested the government to form an anti-poaching cell to curb illegal wildlife trade. “Forest officers should check wildlife crime as animals are mostly killed in a protected area which is out of police jurisdiction,” a forest officer said
But there are several cases in which the STF took action on its own. On August 6, one kilo of Himalayan Viagra worth several lakhs of rupees was seized from four people at Joshimath, Chamoli in a police operation. The STF seized 15 leopard skins in January-February period. In fact, the STF made the breakthrough in the case last year in which five tiger skins were seized from a poacher.
“Police is cracking whip on mediators smuggling wildlife parts and banned herbs. It’s important to check the crime from the source. We realised that there’s a need of joint effort from both departments for which we plan to conduct workshops for our personnel and forest staff,” senior superintendent of police, STF, Ridhim Aggarwal told Hindustan Times.
The first workshop will be held in Haldwani either by August end or early September.
In November, former chief minister Harish Rawat in a meeting with State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) had directed better coordination between two departments for monitoring wildlife crime. This was after the forest department said it did not have adequate manpower to carry out anti-poaching activties.
The forest department claims to have supported the police on many occasions. Sources said forest officers, including those from the Corbett reserve, met Aggarwal and demanded joint action on wildlife crime for better conservation of tigers.
The Lansdowne forest division, which got Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CATS) accreditation, reported few incidents where the staff was able to avert poaching. On April 4 last year, three men from Nagina, Bijnore division were arrested with hunting equipment.
HT contacted chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati for statement but he did not respond to the calls.