Dharchula (Uttarakhand): Authorities who met at the wildlife enforcement and legal workshop last week in Dharchula, Uttarakhand, unanimously recommended institutionalisation of cross border coordination and joint enforcement operations, among others, for effective wildlife trade control along the western Indo-Nepal border. The recommendations will soon be submitted to the Uttarakhand Forest Department and relevant Nepali authorities for approval and implementation.
The workshop was organised by the Uttarakhand Forest Department and International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) on October 23-24. The participants included forest officials and conservationists from Nepal and India, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), representatives of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Customs and Uttarakhand Police.
Rajdev Prasad Yadav, Farwest Regional Director of Forests, Nepal, said, “The workshop helped develop rapport between officials of the two countries and will help control wildlife crime which occurs along and across the international border. We have prepared a report to submit to the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, to implement the recommendations which we had crafted in the Dharchula workshop.”
“There is of course some amount of cooperation between different institutions working for the same cause – in this case controlling illegal trade – even across international borders. However, institutionalizing this cooperation will fortify the relationship and enhance efficacy in fighting illegal wildlife trade,” said Vivek Menon, Executive Director, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
The participants also recommended the creation and maintenance of databases on wildlife crimes and criminals on both sides of the border for easy access of information by relevant authorities. This will be coordinated by WCCB in India and by the Regional Forest Directorate, Dhangadi, in Nepal.
Another suggestion was the establishment of a fast track court in Dharchula, specially for wildlife crimes. This would enable quick delivery of justice and make it easier to sentence wildlife crime suspects in and around Dharchula, providing an effective deterrent to the spread of such crimes in this border town, known to be a hub of illegal wildlife activities. Intensifying enforcement through joint patrolling along the border by the Forest Department, SSB and ITBP, increase in the number of Police and Forest Department staff in critical checkpoints, and regular meetings and trainings, have also been planned.
The meeting also recommended coordination between Forest Department and Customs officials in wildlife cases handled by the latter.
“The implementation of these recommendations will be followed up by the relevant forest authorities of both countries. If implemented as decided, these activities will no doubt clog one of the most important routes of illegal cross-border wildlife trade in this part of the sub-continent,” added Menon.