This is with regard to the news article published in The Arunachal Times on 6 March, 2021 and 7 March, 2021, addressing the ‘air gun surrender abhiyan’ to curtail hunting in Arunachal Pradesh by the forest department and ‘Carcass of hog deer seized from Pasighat market’.
It is a matter of concern that although hunting has been considered an illegal practice in India, most of the northeastern states, including Arunachal Pradesh have a loose knot with respect to the same. These ecologically rich regions have been known for their rich biodiversity, a fact that all citizens belonging to the northeastern regions are proud of. That is why dire emphasis needs to be given in protecting it, as well; otherwise it might not be a fact that we are proud of at present but a fact that we read of the past.
In Arunachal, hunting has mostly been practiced for local meat consumption, illegal wildlife trade, defensive killing of crop-raiding animals, to possess medicinal properties from certain body parts of animals, for rituals, recreational purposes or just to meet basic needs. It is very crucial to understand the cultural and socioeconomic roots of the existing practices in any community. Our ancestors practised hunting since time immemorial. Those were the times when hunting was their only source of livelihood also, when nature was in abundance and humans took only what they needed in a sustainable manner. But with time the human needs converted into wants and the motives have become more commercial to the point that humans have started exploiting the natural environment.
It is also crucial to understand that, as we go closer into their natural habitat, we are also exposing ourselves to threats. The Covid-19 pandemic itself is a grave example that it doesn’t take much time for a local crisis to turn into a global crisis.
There are existing wildlife protection laws like the Wildlife Protection Act of 1971, and many other sections; however, it is the enforcement of these laws that needs to be done seriously. And more importantly, although the existing laws condemn the practice of hunting, there is only so much that the authorities can do without the cooperation and understanding of the local communities.
Only addressing the initiatives for conservation by the respective authorities will not suffice anymore. There is a dire need to create intensive awareness, not just orally but through other means as well by highlighting the rich biodiversity of that particular region and bringing into light about any endangered species in that area that needs immediate attention for conservation.
There is no doubt that there are existing local institutions, independent researchers and some communities who believe in peaceful coexistence of both humans and nature. And they have been working rigorously in protection and conservation of the wildlife and their natural habitat. However, due to lack of societal support, the impact of their earnest efforts is negligent in recent times. But seeing the government take more initiatives to tackle this challenge really gives us hope. Hopefully, with time there is more societal acceptance of the existing laws and new initiatives, without which proper implementation of these initiatives will not be possible.
I would like to appeal to and encourage fellow citizens of Arunachal Pradesh to support the cause and create more awareness about the ongoing environmental crisis. Yes, there are likeminded institutions and other parties that are initiating conservation efforts, but we also need to take equal responsibility in ensuring the ecological and environmental security of our state.
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