Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Protecting species, people.

The New Indian Express
First Published : 28 Mar 2009 02:25:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 28 Mar 2009 08:26:51 AM IST

A spate of poaching incidents in the country of late as well as encounters between wild animals and human beings have once again drawn attention to the need for implementing a policy that will protect endangered species.

This applies not just to tigers and lions — the showpiece of conservation policy in India — but all other wild animals that perforce have to share their habitat with human beings and with whom, therefore, they come into conflict.

The latest incident involved the shooting of a tiger in Kaziranga after it had strayed outside the reserve and killed one man and mauled another. Such incidents are, however, routine from the Sunderbans in the east to Gir in the west. The problem of poaching is no less ubiquitous as, in the case of tigers, Sariska had most dramatically demonstrated a few years ago. The point here is that the ends of conservation have to be achieved without infringing on the rights and livelihoods of those who also depend on the resources of the forests, especially since they are almost by definition among the most vulnerable and marginalised of people.

Given this, a policy framework that seeks to create inviolate spaces for wild animals from which people dependent on forests will be forcibly excluded is neither feasible nor desirable.

The pressure on land and resources is too intense for that to work, despite the frenetic advocacy of doctrinaire conservationists. The people dependent on the forests must be given recognition of their rights — the Act that has, in fact, conferred these rights since 2007 is, therefore, a step in the right direction. Implementation is, however, key. The grant of such rights must be accompanied by the institution of a system of policing that will also protect the wild animals. It has been suggested, not unreasonably, that this end can best be secured by giving forest dwellers a stake in conservation — for example, by ploughing back the proceeds of wildlife tourism into forests and contiguous areas to benefit the people who live there, apart, of course, from employing local people in anti-poaching/conservation activities.

A pilot project to work out the modalities is called for, keeping in mind, for instance, the example of successful conservation in Bishnoi- dominated areas.

Source: http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Protecting+species,+people&artid=a%7CH2L4Gpyls=&SectionID=RRQemgLywPI=&MainSectionID=XT7e3Zkr/lw=&SectionName=XQcp6iFoWTvPHj2dDBzTNA==&SEO=Kaziranga,%20Sunderbans

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