Bengaluru: Referring to the poor conviction rate in wildlife crimes especially across Karnataka, veteran cricketer Anil Kumble on Thursday urged the Karnataka Forest Department to sensitize officials, especially at the field level, about various acts and regulations so that they could effectively enforce them and bring offenders to justice.
Releasing a book— ‘Wildlife Law for Rangers’, by conservationist Praveen Bhargav of Wildlife First at Chitrakala Parishat, Kumble said “We have enough laws to protect our precious flora and fauna. But due to lack of knowledge and poor interpretation, many fail to exercise them. In this context, the new book will be handy for field officials to deal with the forest offences and wildlife crime.”
A panel discussion involving officials from the Indian police and forest service, judiciary deliberated on the loopholes that often allow criminals to go scot free.
Sanjai Mohan, Chief Wildlife Warden said, “We fail in many cases because of the poor investigation. But our officials cannot be blamed as they are not trained in investigation skills. Owing to other compulsions related to conservation, taking a case to its logical end is near impossible.”
Bhaskar Rao, additional director-general of police (KSRP) said, “In today’s scenario a conservator has been converted into an investigator. Of the 547 forest, wildlife cases in about seven to eight years since 2011, we have seen conviction in just 24 cases. This would only suggest that we need to train our officers and men in the field. While imparting training, we also need to fix accountability so they exercise powers in fullest authority. Today, more than the police and forest, customs officials are detecting wildlife crime.”
Former DG&IGP Dr S.T. Ramesh said, “Proper knowledge of the law and skilled investigation skills are crucial in collecting evidence. There is no forensic laboratory in Karnataka and even the forensic knowledge related to wildlife is also a cause of concern. However, had the officials been trained in enforcement, they could completely bring in a change.”
Former Karnataka High Court judge Justice A.V. Chandrashekar also commented that often forest officers fail to turn up in court and follow up on the cases due to other pressing works. “But an awareness on legal process and training in handling such matters will definitely empower them with more powers,” he opined.
Author Praveen Bhargav also said that chapters on forensic and other important issues related to wildlife crime will also be incorporated into the book in its later editions. He announced to hand over 1,500 copies of the books to the forest department for distribution among its various circles across the state....