India sees drastic drop in wildlife crime incidents

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Incidents of wildlife crime have come down drastically in the country in the current year, owing to the stringent measures adopted by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).

According to the data accessed by IANS, there has been a drop of 127 per cent this year in comparison to 2020. As per the data available with WCCB, provided by state forest and police authorities, a total number of 281 wildlife crime cases were registered this year. In 2020, they stood at 601 and a year before in 2019, at 805.

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic too played a major role in the reduction in such incidents.

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has taken several steps to prevent illegal trafficking of endangered animals and wildlife species and to conserve the flora and fauna of the country.

From time to time, the department is conceiving, planning and coordinating nationwide ‘species specific operations’ like Save Kurma, Turtshield, thunder series, etc, with the focus on coordinated action on transnational wildlife crime particularly along the borders of India with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal.

The WCCB has been conducting joint operations with state enforcement agencies to apprehend criminals involved in smuggling wildlife. A total of 16 species specific operations have been carried out till now in collaboration with Interpol and other enforcement agencies.

In the last 7 years from 2014 to 2021, the WCCB conducted 717 joint operations resulting in the arrest of 1488 wildlife criminals and profiling of 3248 wildlife offenders. There were large seizures of ivory, rhino horns, tiger skins/body parts/ bones, leopard skins, pangolins, turtles, mongoose hair, monitor lizards, shark fins, sea horses and others.

According to the data, 153 joint operations were conducted in 2019-20 which led to the arrest of 344 wildlife criminals while in 2020-21, 101 joint operations resulted in the arrest of 304 criminals and in 2021-22 till September, 74 joint operations have been conducted in which 202 wildlife criminals have been apprehended.

The proactive approach of the WCCB seems to be instilling a sense of fear in the minds of the criminals involved in such activities.

Wildlife crime is considered an environmental offence. Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change too released the overall data but it was only till 2020. The Crime in India report released for 2020 indicated that the number of cases registered for environment-related offences has increased from 34,676 in 2019 to 61,767 in 2020.

Apart from the WCCB’s tough approach towards the criminals, it is conducting sensitization programmes for officials of the Border Guarding Forces, Customs, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Judicial officers, RPF, GRP and other forces/ stakeholders.

In 2020-21, 108 such programmes were conducted and 8603 officials sensitised. This year, till September, 76 online webinars have been conducted through which 4480 stakeholders have been sensitised.

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