Orang (Assam): Judges of Gauhati High Court on Tuesday underlined the urgent need to create a massive awareness drives targeting the common people to bust the myth that wildlife parts are beneficial to human beings in many ways, a belief born out of superstition.
The Judges of the High Court Manas Ranjan Pathak and Sanjay Medhi addressed a multi-stakeholders workshop on ‘wildlife crime prevention: Challenges and opportunities’ held at Orang National Park and Tiger Reserve.
The judges of the high court said investigating agencies like forest department, police, customs should be well aware of the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2022 so that they can follow a foolproof investigation procedure (especially while making arrests and seizure) and file a proper charge-sheet to help the judiciary/court to improve the conviction rate in wildlife crime cases.
However, both the judges laid special emphasis on putting up a concerted effort to launch massive awareness campaign to bust the myth about wildlife parts so that the demand for these items come down drastically which in turn will result in reduction of wildlife crimes like hunting and illegal trade.
Justice Sanjay Medhi highlighted the important role a public prosecutor has to play in a case related to wildlife crime while Justice Pathak , who is also the executive chairman of Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA), underlined that unlike the IPC, the Wildlife Protection Act puts the onus on the accused to prove that he/she is not guilty before the court of law.
Hence the investigation procedure and the charge-sheet must be flawless to ensure that the guilty doesn’t get scot free, Justice Medhi said.
Making a presentation in the workshop which was held under the aegis of ASLSA, Orang National Park authority and Aaranyak (www.aaranyak.org) with support from David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), the Member Secretary of ASLSA, Nayan Shankar Barua explained in detail about the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and the proper procedure to be followed by investigation agencies in dealing with wildlife crime cases.
Noted wildlife conservation expert and secretary general-cum-CEO of Aaranyak, Bibhab Kumar Talukdar made an updated and enlightening presentation on the global scenario of burgeoning wildlife crimes in the workshop attended by a distinguished gathering including the Division Forest Officer of Orang National Park and Tiger Reserve, Pradipta Baruah.
Talukdar explained how wildlife trade has emerged as the fourth largest global crime after drugs, human trafficking and arms smuggling. He explained how unholy relationship between global wildlife criminals and arms smugglers, has posed threat to the national security.
He also said by virtue of altitudinal gradient North East India is a biodiversity rich area and hence stands vulnerable to wildlife crimes like hunting and illegal trade.
The workshop which was marked by very substantive interaction between participants and resource persons from legal fraternity and wildlife crime/conservation sectors, was attended by judicial officers, representatives of Assam Forest Department, Assam Police and Customs officials.
The team of Aaranyak led by Bibhab Talukdar and comprising of Jimmy Bora, Ajoy Kumar Das, Ivy Farheen Hussain, Kakoli Baishya and Goura Baidya contributed substantially to make the workshop a success.
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