[ Nani Sha ]
ITANAGAR, Jan 27: The forest department’s tableau, themed ‘Save wildlife for posterity’, won the Republic Day 2019 tableau competition.
The synopsis of the presentation was that Arunachal Pradesh is home to thousands of wildlife, and hunting on the eve of festivals has been a traditional practice of a majority of the tribes. The sacrifice of animals or fowls has been an indispensable part of indigenous festivals of the state.
There are, however, reports of wanton hunting of wild birds and animals, and the sale of wildlife meat in markets. Hunting is more wanton during the new year’s eve because of the parties and picnics. Hunting of birds and animals has thus gone beyond restrictions and has become a perennial practice.
Of late, wildlife meats are being sold in the local markets across the state. The state capital has become the favourite destination as people in the city buy at exorbitant prices. There are, very often, reports of seizure, confiscation and destruction of seized carcasses in our local newspapers.
The environment & forests department is making every effort to check poaching by conducting patrolling in vulnerable areas. Vehicles plying on different routes are intercepted at strategic points and checked, and the vegetable markets are raided from time to time. But the greed for easy money at one end, and the locals’ gluttony for wild meat on the other, has no bounds. So the trade continues unabated.
The front part of the tableau depicted a tree, representing forests, to imply that it is our moral responsibility to protect and preserve nature’s bounty, so that all life forms on this planet exist in harmony.
The second part, on top of the tableau, depicted the decreasing wildlife population. Our state animal, a family of Hoolock gibbons, is shown weeping over the decline in their population due to the loss of their habitat and wanton hunting.
The rear part of the tableau depicted the local vegetable market scenario and transportation of wildlife kills. Very often, wild birds, both alive and dead, and animals (or their parts) are sold in the local markets. Different transportation systems are being used to transport illegally poached wild birds and animals to the selling points. It is also observed that government vehicles, being safer, are used to transport such meat illegally. So many poachers and sellers have been arrested from the local markets and different check points, but the illegal trade continues.
Illegal hunting and selling of wildlife and their parts is a punishable offence under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Anyone who commits a crime under the act is punishable by up to seven years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 10,000. For an offence in a tiger reserve, the punishment is not less than seven years and fines ranging from Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 50 lakhs. It shall also attract seizure and forfeiture of tools, vehicles, vessels and weapons. The licences for the weapons can also be cancelled.
This is an appeal to the people of our state not to hunt wildlife, not to sell wildlife, not to serve wildlife meat, not to accept wildlife as gift, and not to lend their firearms for poaching.
The only solution is to change our attitude towards wildlife and their wellbeing. Creating awareness among all stakeholders is the mantra to protect the beautiful creatures bestowed on us by Mother Nature. (The contributor is Divisional Forest Officer, Silviculture Division, Itanagar)
[ Nani Sha ]