Rajasthan number 2 in wildlife crimes, experts anxious
A recent report of the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) puts Rajasthan at number two position in the wildlife crimes, raising concern of the wildlife experts.
Of the 852 cases registered in the country under the Wildlife Protection Act in 2016, 190 cases were registered in Rajasthan alone. Uttar Pradesh (UP) topped the list with 302 cases. At least 1,722 people involved in the wildlife crimes were arrested last year in Rajasthan. While 214 of them were convicted, 110 acquitted. Others were let off after being fined.
The worrying factor, the wildlife experts said, was that “several” hunting cases go unreported. Though, they added that awareness about Scheduled Wildlife Species has increased in recent years, leading to higher registration of wildlife crimes in the state.
“People have certainly become aware about wildlife protection and rise in registration of these (wildlife crime) cases has been noted in recent years, but several cases go unreported,” said NS Rathore, former joint director of the Desert Regional Centre in Jodhpur, which works under the Zoological Survey of India.
Lalit Bora, the then forest officer who lodged the first information report (FIR) against actor Salman Khan in the blackbuck and chinkara hunting case, said that people have become “more aware” about the Wildlife Protection Act after cases were lodged against celebrities, which has led to the rise in registration of hunting cases.
“The first message conveyed to the public after the registration of case against celebrities was that a stern punishment can be delivered under the Wildlife Protection Act,” he said.
He said western Rajasthan, where majority of chinkara hunting cases take place, leads in registration of the wildlife crimes. People of the Vishnoi community, known for wildlife protection, lodge most of the cases.
Rathore, however, said that most of the hunting cases registered in western Rajasthan involve the hunting of chinkara, but there are some other wild species that are disappearing constantly.
“There has been a considerable drop in population of species such as desert fox and desert monitor lizard,” he said, adding that, “Earlier these species were easily visible in the desert.”
He said the registration of hunting cases in south-eastern part of Rajasthan is “very low” despite the fact that some particular communities in the area tend to hunt wildlife of scheduled species.