Guwahati, March 3 (IANS) Days after BBC was banned from India’s tiger projects for five years for questioning protection measures in Kaziranga national park, Survival International has launched a campaign to boycott the park as long as it retains its “shoot-on-sight” policy.
A statement by the global tribal rights body said that they had written to 131 tour companies in 10 countries urging them to join the boycott, and two French tour operators including Hote Antic Travel and Evaneos have already signed up.
The statement said that 106 people have reportedly been killed in the park in the last 20 years. A seven-year-old tribal boy was shot in the park in July 2016 and maimed for life, while in a separate incident, a severely disabled tribal man was killed while trying to retrieve a stray cow.
The BBC in a recently telecast documentary, titled “One World: Killing for Conservation” slammed the methods followed in Kaziranga for rhino conservation, showing that the forest guards there were empowered to shoot and kill anyone they think was a threat to rhinos.
The national park, also a Unesco world heritage site, is home to a large population of one-horned rhinos, probably having the highest density of rhinos in the world. One of the most known tourist pulls of the state, Kaziranga national park has been witnessing rhino poaching for many years.
“Kaziranga conservationists are pretending there’s no shoot on sight in the reserve. It’s simply not true. Park guards are ordered to shoot intruders on sight and children like 7-year-old Akash can be on the receiving end. Shoot on sight is the same as extrajudicial killing. It’s a gross human rights violation that would be publicly condemned if it were operated by any other industry,” said Survival’s Director Stephen Corry in the statement.
Survival International, which is leading the fight against abuses committed in the name of conservation, said measures like this fail to tackle the real poachers – criminals conspiring with corrupt officials. Tribal people face arrest and beatings, torture and death in parks like Kaziranga, while many forest officials are accused of involvement in the illegal wildlife trade.