GUWAHATI: Aimed at fostering proactive community engagement in the fight against wildlife crimes, Community Surveillance and Monitoring Teams (CSMTs) have been set up in select villages of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
These specialised community-driven teams operate in fringe villages located near designated wildlife protection areas, where they vigilantly monitor the presence of illegal wildlife product markets and track wildlife trade along both known and potential routes.
As of now, CSMTs have been established in eight villages in Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh, and six villages in the Tamenglong district of Manipur.
These teams comprise individuals from various sectors, including village councils, eco-development societies, biodiversity boards, local NGOs, and student body representatives.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the CSMTs are primarily concentrated on safeguarding the diverse wildlife of the D’Ering Wildlife Sanctuary, while in Manipur, they are centred around the Dailong Biodiversity Heritage Site in the Tamenglong district.
In May 2017, the Manipur Government designated Dailong village as a Biodiversity Heritage Site, emphasising its ecological significance.
An initiative by Aaranyak, a biodiversity conservation organisation, the members of CSMT have been trained to maintain efficient communication channels and report wildlife crimes promptly to the relevant authorities.
Additionally, the CSMTs also collaborate closely with local media personnel to raise public awareness about the biodiversity-threatening consequences of wildlife crimes, with the hope of inspiring the community to contribute actively to wildlife conservation.
Apart from their critical monitoring and surveillance functions, CSMTs are expected to closely observe wildlife trade routes, ensuring that vital information is conveyed to the appropriate authorities for swift action.
In addition to their contributions to the overall conservation cause within their respective landscapes, the CSMTs also conduct regular awareness programmes on special environmental and wildlife conservation days throughout the year.
Aaranyak’s innovative approach through the CSMTs promises to enhance wildlife protection by highlighting the crucial role that local communities can play in safeguarding the region’s biodiversity.