WILDLIFE CRIME CONTROL DIVISION


PARTNERS: International Fund for Animal Welfare // Aircel // Oracle

PROJECT LEAD: Jose Louies (jose@wti.org.in)


The WCCD comprises three projects that complement one another, assisting and supporting various government agencies and aimed collectively towards the reduction of crime against wildlife and its habitats across India.

The Litigation Project aims to ensure litigation success in cases involving wildlife-related crime. The project is involved in three types of legal interventions:

  • Policy-related Litigation: in instances where the policies of various government departments threaten to adversely impact wildlife or habitats
  • Wildlife Crime Litigation: in instances of violation of wildlife laws, especially the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, where a lawyer is appointed to assist prosecution agencies.
  • Legal Assistance to Enforcement Agencies: providing the services of legal consultants to state forest departments and other agencies to ensure the proper preparation of cases, documentation & legal advice pertaining to cases under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

WTI files petitions in the name of the organisation or its authorised representative as original petitioner, or files intervention applications in ongoing wildlife crime cases. Lawyers supported by WTI also assist and support the government/relevant agencies in court cases.

 

A training workshop on proper Offence Report writing underway at Manas National Park

 

Guardians of Wild or the Van Rakshak Project was started in 2001 with the goal of assisting the government in creating a strong, well-equipped and motivated force of frontline field staff, to curb poaching and habitat degradation across the Protected Area network. The project has a multi-pronged strategy with four focus areas abbreviated as TEAM, which stands for Training, Equipping, Awareness and Morale boosting. As such, it provides specialised wildlife crime prevention training, sturdy field kits and a unique Supplementary Accident Assurance Scheme, the only NGO-run scheme in India that brings frontline forest staff under an ex-gratia umbrella, providing coverage of up to Rs 100,000 in case of death and a partial amount in case of permanent disability.

The Guardians of the Wild Project has trained and equipped over 16,000 forest personnel in more than 150 Protected Areas across India

Key to the project’s goals is a clear assessment of national and regional training needs, competent instruction, effective training materials, and the selection and motivation of training participants. Various topics, covered in three days of training, focus on different aspects including wildlife crime and trade prevention, collaborative planning and tactical response – all delivered from a practical and localised perspective. Related subjects are grouped into sessions, with each being taught by a professional with noted expertise in the area.

The Guardians of the Wild Project has trained and equipped over 16,000 forest personnel in more than 150 Protected Areas of India, as well as in trans-boundary areas in Bhutan. The forest departments of 23 states have joined the Supplementary Accident Assurance Scheme thus far, with over 20,000 frontline forest personnel across the country having been covered against death or disability while on duty. Nearly 150 families have availed this ex-gratia benefit in the last 15 years.

 

Carved ivory items seized after ‘Operation Shikar’, a major enforcement operation in 2015 that WTI supported

 

The Wildlife Trade Control Project comprehensively addresses issues related to the illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives, ensuring that the government machinery is being empowered and trained enough to sustainably manage wildlife crime in the long run. The project team works with identified field contacts and volunteers across the country, siphoning information about suspected wildlife crime related activates. Active support is provided to state forest departments, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Special Tiger Protection Force, Police, and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to forge a strong, national-level wildlife crime fighting system.

The project also specifically addresses the serious issue of poaching through the use of wire snares. The project team has pioneered Anti-Snare Walks (ASW), involving joint patrolling with forest authorities to identify and remove snares in Protected Areas, mostly along vulnerable areas along the forest fringes.