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Problems of identification of camera-trapped tigers
Indian Wildlife - challenges in the new millennium
The greying of India
On the road to extinction
A Tribute to Rumbha - the elephant  
State development project threatens state bird - Sarus
Shahtoosh ban gains momentum worldwide
The road to disaster
Killing nilgais in the name of crop protection
Warring NGO's may spell doom for the tiger
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Cuckoos that fly out of crows' nests
Corbett park woes continue to mount
A question on post mortem examinations in the wild
Is it time to 'cry wolf' again?
Lifting of US sanctions may boost wildlife conservation
Migratory waterfowl may be hit by war in Afghanistan
UP wetlands to provide improved habitat to waterfowl
Anthrax as a potent wildlife killer
Man-elephant conflict takes heavy toll
Demoiselle cranes fly to safety in India
How long lasting are conservation victories
Fake tiger skins : a knotty disguise
Who cares for the wild here anyway?
A tribute to Charger - the long living tiger
Draining of wetlands threatening wildlife
Wildlife management needs rapid response units
Dudhwa loses another tiger
Indian Wildlife Board meets after five years

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | February 20, 2002


Indian Board for Wildlife meets after a five-year gap

The advent of the present year brought along with it one heartening bit of news. After a long gap of five years, the reconstituted Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL), the highest body in the country established for laying down policy and issuing directives for proper management of Protected Areas, finally held its 21st meeting in January.

To say the least, it was indeed ironic that during these past five years, while wildlife and forests located across the entire country were being subjected to innumerable threats ranging from the small-time poacher to globally funded development projects, the people who really matter for the good of wildlife, were unable to put their heads together under this august forum.

But, without going into the reasons that were responsible for this long gap, it should now be optimistically hoped that the IBWL has delved deeply into the issues that it was faced with, and will would now further ensure that each priority area that it identified in the resolutions it passed, gets a balanced priority, without one impinging upon another. This attains great importance when the process of actual implementation of a number of policy decisions, tends to come up against some inherent contradictions.

The 18 resolutions passed at the IBWL meeting encompass the entire range of issues facing wildlife in the country. These include the important decision that wildlife and forests shall be declared a priority sector at the national level, for which adequate funds should be earmarked. It has also been resolved that law enforcement agencies must ensure that poachers and traders in illicit wildlife products are given quick and deterrent punishment.

The revenue earning potential of wildlife tourism has been acknowledged, but its development should be done in a way that does not have adverse impact on wildlife or protected areas. This revenue component should be used entirely to augment available resources for conservation.

Since there is an inbuilt contradiction in managing PAs, while at the same time protecting the interests of the villagers and tribals living around these areas, the IBWL resolution has urged that this issue be handled with sensitivity and with maximum possible participation of the affected people. It has been suggested that they should have access to the minor forest produce from forests outside of national parks and sanctuaries, and also be provided with opportunities that help them maintain a symbiotic relationship with the forests and wildlife.

The positive role of NGOs involved in conservation has been stressed upon and it has been resolved that these be given greater governmental as well as societal recognition and support, while mainstream media has been asked to highlight both the activities of the NGOs, as well as the successes of governmental initiatives that have worked.

A resolution that may have far-reaching benefits is the one which outlines that there would be no diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes, from critical and ecologically fragile wildlife habitats. This is aimed at countering the increasing threats wild habitats face from mega projects in the power or irrigation sectors. As a corollary it has also been resolved that land falling within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries should be notified as eco-fragile zones under provisions contained in the Environment (Protection) Act and Rules.

Other resolutions cover such important administrative issues as removal of encroachments and illegal activities from within forest lands and PAs, a ban on plantations of commercial mono-culture to replace natural forests, and ensuring that the settlement of rights in national parks and sanctuaries should not be used to exclude or reduce the areas that are crucial to, and an integral part of the wildlife habitat.

Perhaps the most important indicator for the need for the IBWL to pull up its socks came when its Chairman, the Prime Minister summed up his address with, "Lastly, I would like all of us to resolve that we shall end the relative neglect of wildlife conservation in recent years. To begin with, this Board should meet more often. All of us have many other tasks and concerns to attend to. And they too are important. However, wildlife conservation is too important a task to be treated lightly or ritualistically".

For the sake of Indian wildlife, one hopes that his message is loud and clear.