Chhattisgarh, November 12, 2018: As part of the continuing efforts under WTI’s Van Rakshak Project to train, equip and boost the morale of frontline forest staff across the country, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), in partnership with the Chhattisgarh Forest Department conducted two three-day training program for the staff of Kanker and Ambikapur Forest divisions from 25th- 31st October, 2018.
“The purpose of the training was to ensure, both, territorial forest and protected area staff is equipped to handle crime and trade issues in their respective areas”, said Rajendra Prasad Mishra, Regional Coordinator and Head, WTI.”
“Conviction rates in wildlife crime cases are abysmally low across India. These factors throw light on the lacunae in the investigation, documentation, and prosecution; and explain why law has little deterrence value when it comes to wildlife crime”- said Jose Louies, Chief of WTI’s Wildlife Crime Control Division. “With the help of such training for forest staff, we teach them precise and sharp application of sections to reduce the possibility of acquittal.”
100 frontline personnel attended the program. The curriculum of the training program included legal and enforcement aspects of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, as well as wildlife crime prevention components – basics of anti-poaching, patrolling techniques, intelligence gathering, informer network and handling, search and seizure, interrogation, hunting communities, crime scene investigation and the preparation of Preliminary Offence Reports. The trainees were also briefed on relevant provisions of Indian Evidence Act, Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Proceedings, and the powers conferred to them for the prosecution of wildlife crimes.
Advocate Yash Kumar Soni, a consulting lawyer with WTI, emphasized the need to teach frontline personnel to prepare legal documents in a systematic way. “Progress is seen in PAs where we are providing continued legal assistance, like last three years in Madhya Pradesh but in other areas like Chhattisgarh, we have a long way to go. Our aim through these continued training workshops is to address this shortcoming.”
The trainees were evaluated before and after the training program. During the field day, kits and certificates were distributed to the trainees who performed well throughout.
WTI has been conducting such Wildlife Crime Prevention Training programs under its Van Rakshak Project (VRP) since 2001. Over 16,957 frontline forest personnel have been trained in over 138 Protected Areas across 18 states. VRP follows a multi-pronged strategy with four thrust areas abbreviated as TEAM: Training, Equipping, Awareness and Morale Boosting, to build capacity and strengthen the spirit of personnel in tough field conditions.