Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

India, a land once called the golden bird had been stripped of its glory in history. Although the country has regained quite a lot in these brief years yet a new threat lingers over the country that can impact India’s hardly gained prosperity.

Driven by human greed and callous disregard for the nature, its resources and the delicate balance it holds, poaching and hunting of wildlife is a crime not just against animals but against the very essence of our land and survival. In all of its mysterious ways, this exerts a great burden on both our economy as well as ecosystem.

At times, this can be an immediate loss such as tragic disappearance of key species from that area but the other times, effect takes longer to be noticed. White rhinos, elephants, pangolins etc. have all succumbed to these threats.

Our future generations may not be able to witness the majesty of some of these.  Apart from this, gaping holes are created in the respective food chains.

Kaziranga National Park has personally seen this decline in the number of rhinos because of poaching attempts, allowing invasive plant and animal species to have flourished in the delicate ecosystem and upsetting the delicate balance amongst other countless species. This chain reaction shakes the very foundation of the area’s ecological richness.

Economic Loss has an Impact too!

However, it has been found that the cost incurred by these threats that begin as mere trade or loss of a single life goes far beyond and becomes incorrigible.

Vacant national parks, reserves and grazed predator populations would mean vacant safari jeeps and stays. Not to mention, this will reduce the money flow in tourism and transport industry.

India’s tiger conservation programme, as per several studies, has alone generated annual revenue worth $1.5 billion.

Poaching and the government’s inability to provide alternative livelihood options to poachers jeopardizes this important source of earning for local communities as well as businesses sustaining in the region, pushing people towards poverty and other vicious means of survival, at times leading them to migrate.

Similarly, a multi-billion dollar wildlife trade flourishes only on poaching in India, undermining legitimate trade and sustainable wildlife management practices while powering up organized crime and corruption. The money generated here flows and brings life into multiple illegal networks, undermining the rule of the land and posing a security threat to communities and even national borders.

Poaching even denudes the very cultural fabric of India that speaks of greatest respect to nature. It is a complete disregard for the intrinsic value of all life.

Wildlife Crime and Technology

The fight against this all-encompassing plunder requires a multi-level approach. This shall include wildlife protection laws, improved geospatial intelligence gathering, and technologies to destroy poachers and allied criminal networks. GPS and RTM enabled tracking devices can help keep a tab on the wildlife.

These can also help in identifying and focussing on their hotspots. At times, human-animal conflicts can be averted.

However, technology has also enabled poachers to get easy buyers on the dark web, as per experts. For example, presence of chat rooms for conclusive smugglers of wildlife products or Artificial Intelligence involvement in the process. This has created fear around the ever-evolving nature of wildlife crime in the recent years.

Forest departments worldwide alongside Interpol and other investigative authorities have fallen short in detecting and capturing of the accused, leave alone prosecuting them even in the cases of traditional wildlife crimes. It is difficult to imagine what may happen with increasing accessibility and hiding using current technologies.

Involving niche techniques such as forensics can help tackle this global chain of poachers and bring down their well-established and masked networks.

With increasing demands and modes of smuggling, there shall be discovery of new methods of investigating and tackling this menace.

This will also require strengthening local communities, engaging their youth, educating them about their immediate ecosystem and its importance.

On macro scale, India’s prosperity can be inalienably linked to the well-being of its nature and wildlife. Let us stand united against this plunder of nature’s paradise, not just for the sake of our economy but also for our very soul.

By Alaina Ali Beg

I am a lover of all arts and therefore can dream myself in all places where the World takes me. I am an avid animal lover and firmly believes that Nature is the true sorcerer.

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