Govt to create new National
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (NWCCB)
Army being drafted to track
and kill poachers
Amendments to Wildlife
(Protection) Act, 1972 in Monsoon Parliament session
The Ministry of Environment and Forests briefed Army Chief J.J. Singh about a
new proposal, apparently supported by non-Government organizations, to amend
relevant laws that will empower the Army to track and kill poachers.
Conservationists have long objected to the army’s deployment in or close to
forests and jungles but now see that the Army could play a positive role to
eliminate poachers of endangered species. The meeting was attended by
representatives of the Worldwide Fund for Nature and other conservationists.
While the army has initiatives to conserve wildlife within its own
establishments, this proposal will cover huge areas that are outside its
current jurisdiction. More importantly, the new proposal will institutionalize
the Army’s role. Reports say that relevant amendments to the Wildlife Act to
empower the army for conservation may be effected in the monsoon session of
Parliament this year.
Alarmed by statistics that the number of Indian tigers has dwindled sharply to
about 3,700, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to increase the visibility of
this issue by visiting Ranthambore National Forest in Rajasthan.
Despite such high touch visibility to the problem, the number of cases of
poaching has only increased. Therefore, the government has decided to set up a
wildlife crime control bureau to protect animals and check smuggling of their
skin and body parts. Led the National Wildlife Board to give a final go-ahead
for the creation of a National Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (NWCCB) on lines
of the National Narcotics Bureau, this body will evolve a national policy for
checking the illegal trade in animal products and probe wildlife crimes in a
professional manner. As part of this process, it was also decided to legally
empower Army Commanders for containing poaching especially in the border areas
of Jammu & Kashmir and the Northeast and modify the Wildlife (Protection) Act,
1972 to reflect this empowerment.
Under the Indian Constitution, crime is a state subject. However, the enormity
of threat to wildlife in the country and illegal international trade of skin
and other body parts has necessitated the creation of an autonomous federal
authority. Besides poaching, there are also increased instances of
deforestation and encroachment on forestland in the past two years which has
reduced tiger habitation by 26% in the country's 28 tiger reserves.