GUWAHATI, Jan 2 � A citizens� meeting at Guwahati Press Club held recently expressed serious concern at the rising incidence of killing
of tigers in Assam, and urged the State Government to
activate the forest department and its public relations wing to fight against the superstition involving wildlife body parts. Attended by a number of environment activists, the meeting also appealed to the government to enlighten the police personnel on crime related to wildlife.
Initiated by journalist Mubina Akhter, the meeting was attended and addressed by Soumyadeep Datta of Nature�s Beckon, Bibhab Talukdar of Aaranyak, Purnima Sarma of Early Birds, Satyaranjan Bora of Seuji Dharani Dhunia, Nava Thakuria of Asia Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists, among others.
The countrywide census of tigers in January 2008 revealed that India had only 1,411 tigers alive. But statistics indicate that the number was 3,508 in 1997, showing a drastic drop of 60 per cent. A recent government estimates in March 2011, revealed that the number of tigers is not
more than 1,875, a press note informed.
�Tiger and other wildlife are being regularly poached for use in some Chinese traditional medicine. Quite often superstition among various sections in the society instigates the killing of wildlife. Hence public awareness is the need of the hour,� said Soumyadeep Datta.
He criticized the forest department for its �ineffectiveness to make common people a partner in the conservation effort.� Datta pointed out that the publicity wing of the State forest department has done little in this respect.
�If a tiger is killed by some villagers and even the flesh is taken for eating, the forest department must take prompt actions against them. Moreover, its publicity wing should rush immediately to the
location to understand the reasons behind this kind of behavior of the villagers,� Datta added.
Dr Bibhab Talukdar focused on sensitising forest officials
and building massive public awareness. He appealed to everyone to take a pledge in the New Year to preserve wildlife and the environment. Talukdar argued that even being pro-people, we could be active conservationists.
Both Purnima Sarma and Satyaranjan Bora underlined the community involvement in the mission to preserve nature and conserve wildlife.
They also insisted that the government and Forest Department must play a pro-active role vis-�-vis protection of wildlife.
Mubina Akhter in her speech expressed anger that the authority has not taken any visible action against the police personnel responsible for the killing a tiger near Kaziranga National Park and also against some villagers in Kamrup, who killed a leopard very recently where some villagers took away its flesh for eating.
Wrapping up the meeting, Nava Thakuria mentioned that a group of reporters should be specifically oriented on environment and wildlife issues. At the same time, he maintained that the editors of newspapers and news channels should come forward to provide more space on these issues, so that the attention of policy makers can be drawn and the general populace made more aware of the conservation efforts going on around the world.