World Wildlife Day 2019: its time for introspection

Pashu Sandesh, 02 March 2019

On the 03rd March World will celebrate World Wildlife Day. The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Life below water: for people and planet”. The idea behind this theme is to attract the attention of global community towards the dangers lurking beneath the water bodies for the animal habitat and stress the species living below water are undergoing.

On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as World Wildlife Day, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild fauna and flora. 

Let's put aside this year’s theme for a while and concentrate on two stories from India which grabbed the attention of the nation beside the news from borders with Pakistan. In what could be a big relief for the States, Supreme court of India on 28th February stayed its earlier order of 13th Feb which directed 16 states to evict over 11 lakh families of Tribals and other forest dwellers across India. The Supreme court has issued the eviction order following a review of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006. Also known as the Forest Rights Act 2006, this gives tribal communities titles to forest land that they have historically occupied. 

Whatever may be the fate of the case but once again it has brought in the forefront the issue of Man Animal conflicts which are bound to happen once the forest resources are shared by both man and animal. Tribals on the one hand have dwelled the forest since ages and are living in complete harmony with the animals and on the other the encroaching elements have made along with their vested interest, Forest a perennial battle ground for the Animals through poaching and deforestation. 

Staying of the Supreme court order might be seen as temporary reprieve but the larger question still remain unanswered : who should be allowed to stay in Forest? Original tribals are natural conservationists and over the years have forged a formidable bond with flora and fauna. Let it remain as such and only the elements who are identified as encroachers should be flushed out as it happened some time back at Kaziranga National Park Assam following spate of incidences of poaching case of Rhinos by the illegal migrants encroaching the National Park area. 

The other story that caught our attention was the epic journey of Tiger from Madhya Pradesh to Gujarat which unfortunately ended on the tragic note following the death of the Tiger few days back. Tiger migrated from the Ratapani Tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh Satpura ranges and travelled around 800kms to the Mahisagar District of Gujarat. The Tiger was accidentally came into the view while crossing the road following which the Gujarat Forest department was alerted about the presence of the Big cat and the camera traps were laid which confirmed the sighting. The most remarkable part of this epic journey was the stealth of the Tiger which it maintained all along the journey without coming into the notice of the human being. 

The death of the Tiger was confirmed by the Gujarat Forest Department but it denied any foul play. The details however would be ascertained finally after the analysis of the samples taken from dead Tiger at the Hyderabad lab. There are however speculations that the Tiger might have been poisoned.

It is a big loss for the Gujarat as it is only state in western India devoid of any Tiger. Gujarat is home to the Asiatic Lions which are found in Gir. 

Death of the Tiger has brought once again into fore the serious problem of man Animal conflict. The very existence of the Animal is threatened by the man who are supposed to protect it.

“Both states, Madhya  Pradesh and Gujarat, are responsible for the death of tiger in Lunavada, Gujarat because they failed to provide protection to the tiger that was moving near villages. There is no prey base in Lunavada (Mahisagar),” Ajay Dubey, a wildlife activist who works with a non-governmental organisation ‘Prayatna’, told to a leading wildlife website in an interview. “Despite the serious problem of conflict, the lack of coordination between states is the root cause of death,” he added.

So let's not merely celebrate the World Wildlife Day just for the sake of it. Let's do serious introspection and come out with credible solutions. Better coordination among Governmental and non Governmental agencies is also the need of the hour