GUWAHATI, Nov 11 - Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum on Thursday underscored the need for proper implementation of provisions of wildlife protection laws by the enforcing agencies to facilitate conservation of the floral and faunal resources of the country.
In a three-day conference held here, Anish Andheria, president, WCT, narrated the history of various laws in force in country such as the Indian Forest Act, the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and the International Conventions. He highlighted the importance of global instruments that are available such as CITES.
Highlighting the threat posed to Asian Elephant species on the globe, Andheria said , �In the year 2015 about 35,000 wild African elephants were killed in Africa and in India, the wild population of Asian elephants was 30,000. There is a possibility that the entire species can be wiped out unless there is sustained conservation efforts and stringent enforcement of law.�
Monica Wrobel and Belinda Stewart Cox from Elephant Family advocated for a global ban on the trade on live Asian elephants. They discussed how CITES and other regulations need to be used for tighter regulation of trade in Asian elephants.
Vivek Menon of the WTI termed the CITES as a political body which may not always be effective for species conservation. He said, �India is a country with many laws that are very old. All mean must be used to protect our environment. Taboos and cultures can be used in conservation.�
A senior forest official from Meghalaya PR Marak said that Central Acts related to conservation of forest and wildlife were yet to be implemented by tribal autonomous district councils in Meghalaya for want of infrastructure and fund. He said implementation of the Forest Rights Act would lead to encroachment regularization in the State.
A senior official of the Assam Government and a noted conservationist Anwaruddin Choudhury said in Assam the focus of conservation was basically on bigger mammals like rhinos, tigers, elephants etc., even as smaller mammals were too facing serious threat in the region.
Ravi Singh of WWF India said though traditional people�s culture had helped conserve biodiversity in India still there was need to make legislation better with the help of lobbying groups. He said all new laws would have to take into consideration climate change scenario.
Lawyer Prashant Choudhury pointed out low conviction rates of wildlife crimes in the country and underlined the need to empower forest officials in this regard. He said Wildlife crime legal cells were required as courts were ill-equipped to handle wildlife crime case. �Heavy penal consequences should run concurrently in case of wildlife crimes. Proceeds from assets recovered from wildlife criminals should go towards wildlife parks,�� he added.
Another lawyer Karthik Shukul pointed out that implementation of law was poor while provisions of Forensic Act and rights were not properly known to forest officials.
Professor Joydeep Bhattacharya of Louisiana University in the USA gave a drone�s eye view to conservation and explained how drones can be an important tool in animal conservation and would replace radio collars in the near future. He explained how technology can be used for animal and plant observation, monitoring behavioural and physiological response of animals and stress in plants.
Lisa Mills & Julie Stein of Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network explained how certification of elephant-friendly tea produced in areas ridden with man-elephant conflict in Assam would go a long way in mobilising fund for mitigation of the conflict.
�Elephant FriendlyTM Tea is an invitation to join us on a sustainability journey for conscious consumers and ethical companies. Develop an Elephant FriendlyTM Tea certification that will resonate with consumers, provide tea producers premium pricing, support elephant conservation,� the two entrepreneurs said.
A senior IFS officer of Assam MK Yadav presented a video of drone�s eye view of Kaziranga in the session marked as Policing the Protectors: Technology & Security.
Dr R Prabhakar, who is the chief architect of IBP, India Biodiversity Portal, said there was a separate NE-India Biodiversity Portal having 19,832 observations. There is a prospective plan for Assam by IBP. There is a Bhutan Biodiversity Portal which is playing an active role. Kamal Bawa explained that the portal was launched for public and society, but without peoples contribution it was not possible to make efficient at the desired level.
Rajeev Goyal of the KTK-BELT said the concept of vertical university arose by understanding the problem of the ground like deforestation, climate change and for the application of natural solution. Participatory Action Research was adopted which helped plant collection.
Karunakara Reddy of SMAAT said, �Every day in India, 1800 persons die as a result of drinking contaminated water. States such as West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have high levels of arsenic content in the water. SMAAT was started in the year 1998 and has reached out to 8700 communities to provide water at the cost of 10 paisa per litre.