Hukai H. Zhimo
Forest Colony, Dimapur
While concerning with the various social and political issues confronting the state, the equally important and serious issue of wildlife has been for long overlooked. This has caused a steep decline in our once wildlife wealth of the state. The crux of the problem is ignorance of the people about; the importance of wildlife, the priceless contribution it makes in maintaining the ecological balance and the consequences of its exhaustion in the long run. Another major cause of wildlife exploitation is the deliberate and wilful ignorance of most of the literate population who not only remain a mute spectator to wildlife abuse but also is an active party to its exploitation.
An extensive and all-inclusive continuous awareness program about the importance of wildlife is the need of the hour. This should evenly cover all the villages, towns and districts of the state since wildlife exploitation is not limited to particular place, area or region. The focus of the programme should not be on how big or small or grand the program is, or how high or low, the officials grace the program rather it should be to educate and convey the right message to the young people, to let them understand the importance and value of wildlife, to solicit the support and cooperation, participation and involvement, contribution and action of public/people towards protection and preservation, conservation and management of wildlife. This will contribute towards harmony of existence and the sustenance of it for the future generation which in turn will keep our ecological balance in check.
The exploitation of wildlife resources has peaked in recent times. We have lost many wildlife species to extinction. Therefore, sincere and concerted efforts should be made by all towards protecting and preserving, sustaining and securing the future of wildlife we have now. The administration, the police, the churches, the schools, NGOs, the public leaders, teachers, the press and the media and the literate population bedside the concerned department should all actively participate, contribute and make efforts in their own capacity and be a guardian to wildlife.
The government should make serious efforts and take steps to protect and control wildlife exploitation and crime by bringing in Notifications and by Amendments of Wildlife Protection Acts. In mainland India, where all or most of the Forest lands are owned and belongs to the State and the state has absolute control over it. The question of applicability of Wildlife Protection Acts does not arise there. The same law, however, is practically inapplicable in Nagaland except in Protected Areas, Sanctuaries, Community Reserves and National Parks considering the fact that more than 80% of Forest land in our state is either individually or community owned. The department has little or no say, with the role of enforcement agencies reduced or limited to giving advice or creating awareness whenever the village authority so decides to hunt or declare open, the hunting season in the forest land owned by them.
The Wildlife Protection Act needs to be amended from Nagaland perspective for its applicability and for effective implementation of it, by the enforcement agencies. In this direction, some powers and provisions may be delegated to the Officer-in-Charges of all police stations for enforcement of Wildlife Act within their respective jurisdiction to penalise those violating the Act. The concerned department and government should also make efforts to set up Wildlife Crime Control Unit in all the districts of the state to monitor and control the Wildlife Crime and for enforcement of the Wildlife Protection Act in their respective jurisdiction. Also, along similar line of the Village Development Board (VDB), The Government and the concerned department can work out some modalities whereby some authorities may be delegated to the Village Councils thereby making them in-charge and responsible for protection, preservation, conservation and management of Wildlife within their respective village jurisdiction. This way they become equal partners in managing and controlling wildlife crimes and as such, become answerable and accountable for Wildlife Crimes committed within their village jurisdiction. This will contribute towards achieving ‘ZERO’ wildlife crime thus sustaining and saving many species of wildlife from extinction.
It’s high time the Public leaders, NGOs, Church leaders, the Bureaucrats, the Politicians and the Literate population “WALK THE TALK” rather than doing only “LIP SERVICE” and show sincerity with all seriousness keeping in mind the gravity and severity; “THE IMPACT”, the declining wildlife population will have on us.
We are all individually responsible for protection and preservation of wildlife. The mindset that protection of wildlife is the responsibility of a particular department or a government agency should change. As a Christian state, we very well know that God created Human beings after he created all the creatures. The purpose of creating Human being in his own image is to be a guardian and look after all his creation and not to hunt, kill, abuse or exploit them. So, we all have humane as well as moral and spiritual responsibility as a human being and as a Christian to protect and care for wildlife.
“The Greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”. – ROBERT SWAN.