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Illegal trade in wildlife continues

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Sept 11 � Illegal trade in forest products, including wild flora and fauna is yet to receive serious attention from government agencies. And if the situation remains unchanged, Assam could lose out not just on the biodiversity front but will also be denied economic benefits, experts say.

Even though there is legislation to curb smuggling of forest products, implementation has been tardy so far. There is yet to be regional and inter-departmental co-operation in pursuing cases of wildlife crime in the entire Northeast.

Dr Bibhab Talukdar, of the conservation group Aaranyak who is well-acquainted with the issue believes that even though trade in wildlife is among the most damaging illegal activities in India, it has not received due attention from the departments concerned.

"At present, the infrastructure and combined efforts to go after poachers and smugglers are not adequate. There is also an immediate need to strengthen the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau in the field level", he remarked.

Dr Talukdar, a member of National Board for Wildlife, pointed to closer ties among all stakeholders as crucial to crack down on the illegal trade that threatens a range of flora and fauna.

"Capacity building of line departments is an essential task if trade in wildlife is to be combated. Besides, poachers once caught should be dealt with seriously," he added.

Sources in the Forest Department revealed that the real dimension of the trade and the extent of threats to biodiversity, are yet to be ascertained. Till now no survey or study on this front has been conducted to inform officers and frontline staff.

A senior official told this correspondent that one of the greatest threats has emerged in and around forests which do not enjoy Protected Area status. With limited monitoring, these areas, which although possessing valuable flora and fauna, are accessible to most people.

"The problem is we do not know what some people are extracting from the forests�they could be getting valuable herbs, or medicinal plants," he said. The other concern was extraction could be going on in a highly unsustainable manner.

Here it may be mentioned that rhino horn, ivory, body parts of tigers and other well known products are not the only commodities that constitute the illegal trade. Increasingly, medicinal and aromatic plants are being smuggled out of Assam. Those are later taken out of the region to international markets like China, where the demand for such products has soared in recent times.

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Illegal trade in wildlife continues

GUWAHATI, Sept 11 � Illegal trade in forest products, including wild flora and fauna is yet to receive serious attention from government agencies. And if the situation remains unchanged, Assam could lose out not just on the biodiversity front but will also be denied economic benefits, experts say.

Even though there is legislation to curb smuggling of forest products, implementation has been tardy so far. There is yet to be regional and inter-departmental co-operation in pursuing cases of wildlife crime in the entire Northeast.

Dr Bibhab Talukdar, of the conservation group Aaranyak who is well-acquainted with the issue believes that even though trade in wildlife is among the most damaging illegal activities in India, it has not received due attention from the departments concerned.

"At present, the infrastructure and combined efforts to go after poachers and smugglers are not adequate. There is also an immediate need to strengthen the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau in the field level", he remarked.

Dr Talukdar, a member of National Board for Wildlife, pointed to closer ties among all stakeholders as crucial to crack down on the illegal trade that threatens a range of flora and fauna.

"Capacity building of line departments is an essential task if trade in wildlife is to be combated. Besides, poachers once caught should be dealt with seriously," he added.

Sources in the Forest Department revealed that the real dimension of the trade and the extent of threats to biodiversity, are yet to be ascertained. Till now no survey or study on this front has been conducted to inform officers and frontline staff.

A senior official told this correspondent that one of the greatest threats has emerged in and around forests which do not enjoy Protected Area status. With limited monitoring, these areas, which although possessing valuable flora and fauna, are accessible to most people.

"The problem is we do not know what some people are extracting from the forests�they could be getting valuable herbs, or medicinal plants," he said. The other concern was extraction could be going on in a highly unsustainable manner.

Here it may be mentioned that rhino horn, ivory, body parts of tigers and other well known products are not the only commodities that constitute the illegal trade. Increasingly, medicinal and aromatic plants are being smuggled out of Assam. Those are later taken out of the region to international markets like China, where the demand for such products has soared in recent times.