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A Paradox of Plenty

By Bhushan Parimoo

Jammu and Kashmir wildlife Protection Department appears to be caught in the web of a paradox of plenty. Behaving as if the assignment is too big for its feet. One among the popular questions, which everyone is concerned about is why the Protector of the wildlife by mandate has become the reason to cause irreparable damage to wildlife than it can claim to have protected and improved upon. It gets caught napping all the time to explain this woeful scenario before the full gaze of public to protect to, Preserve and develop wildlife. Unbelievable it may seem but that is the absolute truth about the affairs of wild life protection which leaves much to be desired is speaks of simple apathy that originates in corruption and nepotism that plagues the Department with the nonprofessional management banks upon the power presentations, planted media news, glossy brochures are indeed very catching, appealing for all those who hardly know the area, fact is Department the has all along been in the mode of deceit. It has caused vanishing of Wetlands, widespread encroachments of Lakes, caused pushing on brim the wildlife, be it be in waters, land of in air. Credit to host first international conference on protection of wild life on this planet goes to India. It was held in 1951 at New Delhi. Being the Prime Minister of the host country, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was elected as the first President of the Wild Life Congress. Declaring the conference open, Nehru in his maiden presidential address astounded the international delegates by stating: “This beautiful big cat (referring to white tiger) whom man could not tame, hence, declared this animal as ‘wild’. Should these innocent animals ever come to know what we men behave like; God alone knows what they will call us” .Ironically, even after more than six decades these prophetic words echo the truth of wild life , be it be Animals, Birds and Plants protection with regard to this State. It has been keenly observed that the Department seems to be at its wits how to manage the affairs entrusted to them, contain human –Animal Conflict after habitat of the wild Animals has been devastated before its eyes. What to preserve on priority how to preserve where from to start and how to proceed.

 


Department concern cannot claim that it had to raise data collections about flora and fauna growing in wild from scratches or build required infrastructure to make department functional to its optimum capacity. The fact is during Dogra rule Wildlife along Forest management was given utmost concern thus elaborately documented in details. Wildlife Game reserves then called used to under direct control of the Ruler, stressed on sustainable hunting and preservation of the Wildlife had been ensured then. With the advent of post 1947 wildlife with reckless exploiting of the Green Gold caused vanishing of the Wildlife at a faster rate even one thinks with little effort to contain it. The roll of achievements with regard to protect any wildlife species in the state is nil, in spite of the fact that the State had been fortunate enough to have second only to Gujarat area for the wildlife in the country. While as the Gujarat has just has just a couple of species to make mention on the other hand Jammu and Kashmir wildlife diversity in plenty of its own known world over for its rare biodiversity rich scenario. This makes one to think that when there is such a large area available to thrive Flora and Fauna in its natural habitat why all this allowed to go in vain. Wildlife protection Department has as per records 15912 Sq kms that comes to 15.59% of total geographical area of the state. Which is supplemented with by21251 Sq kms Forests together makes about 37% of total geographical area of the state. There are 4 National Parks, 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries, and 35 Conservation Reserves and about 3613 Wetlands out of which 8 are recognised under Ramsar Convention one of the Wular is Asia number one area wise Freshwater lake and the deepest in the country is Mansar. With pain in heart it is shared all this is for records only most of it is lost without any trace of these .Which makes the. It had been on consistent plea spear headed by then late Mir Anayatulullah, still fresh in the mind of those who still braved the death opposed it, close to power stressed all the time that unless and until Separate independent Department for the Protection and Development be not created. Wildlife shall be at receiving end which require scientific management .Despite apprehensions and reservation expressed then by the Academicians, retired Forest Officers and the Naturalists off course that Forest and Wildlife are one identity the inseparable part both go hand in hand together. Warned it shall be suicidal for to tear them apart just to please a few over Zealous Officers who conceived it an avenue to further their interest at the cost of Environment.

 

Thus a full- fledged independent Department was got created in 1981 to conduct it started the history to slow but steadily vanishing of the Wildlife in the state .Protection Department has been mandated under law to conservation of wildlife and biodiversity ensure sustainable management of wildlife resources and supervise wildlife activities both within and outside the protected areas to rehabilitate .Ensure protecting the wild life ,control poaching, smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives. And to tackle the wildlife related crimes in the State .But it has failed in its responsibility to discharge its bonafide duties mandated under Jammu and Kashmir wildlife Protection Act 1978 amended up to 2002 .What was handed to it by the Forest Department in 1981, be it be area or the quality and quantity of the Biodiversity, during its 37 years of its control caused to lose forever most of it. Department has neither any reliable list of the Wildlife it possess has in its areas on land, Water, and Air species wise not its number besides animals and plants have been got extinct or threatened with extinction. Doled out against law to please masters Wildlife areas without having it de-notified areas ,Golf Courses, to the Tourism development Authorities, the Ecotourism wing of its own has been made to go in slumber , failed to contain poaching and smuggling of banned wildlife items. Data with it is hardly very little reports of booking any such activity and prosecution rate again at brim. A few years back Moti Parimoo on visit to the state from United Sates brought to the notice of then Chief Wildlife Warden R.D Tiwari in his office at Srinagar that two Hanguls were reported to be killed in Chak Sangari area part of Dachigam National Park, and police case has been said to be registered besides a black bear has also been killed there. Chief Wildlife Warden feigned his ignorance. Parimoo shared another incident that wildlife Skins were being carried on the scooter in the broad day light in Sonwar Srinagar to it Tiwar responded why he has not caught the person. Aghast with this irresponsible response, Moti ji retorted back that he has not been powered to do so. Readers may like poaching of migratory birds during winter season goes on viral, sometime in newspapers, but not a single case is booked. So is the case with illegal hunting in the state being carried? This writer found Chief Wildlife Wardens had either hardly visited the areas under his jurisdiction during his tenure or day time tour of the nearby site, rarely found inspection note to take cognizance of his observation so does this percolates down .And over the years delinking it from Forest, Environment Ecology on the basis of the track record of the Wildlife Protection Department has been ill advised move, it proved so.

 

Cardinal blunder Department concerned is in habit of committing unchecked year after year despite repeated requests to correct its strategy accordingly that has yet to take cognizance of the fact Wildlife covers all undomesticated life forms including birds, insects, plants, fungi and even microscopic organisms .With conservation and Protection the natural habitat of wildlife species, we enrich our planet. To do so, we must keep the animals in their natural place. Conservation of natural habitats will also be beneficial for humans since it helps keep the essential watersheds intact and ensuring clean, fresh water. Which calls for a dire essential to maintain a healthy ecological balance on this earth, animals, plants and marine species are as important as humans civilisation during its evolution realised to protect the Wildlife for sustainable development for its survival. Scriptures emphasised that God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. “When a man has pity on all living creatures, then only is he noble.” – The Buddha. He who has a pity on the (even) a Sparrow and spares it’s life, to him God shall be merciful on the Day of Judgement. In Islam, the Holy Quran strongly enjoys upon Muslims to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them. All creatures are believed to praise God even if this praise is not expressed in human language. Hinduism teaches respect for all creatures and compassion towards all beings is a basic principle of Hindu practice. Many animal seals were found in the Indus Valley excavations, which suggest to their importance in the ancient world. Vedic people gave a lot of importance to animals in their lives and associated them with the deities they worshipped. The Vedas mention several animals by name, such deer, boar, foxes, antelopes, boars, gazelles, jackals, lions, monkeys, rabbits, wolves, bears, beavers, rats, etc. They knew the importance of horses, elephants, cows, bulls, sheep, goats, and other domesticated animals in both religious and economic activity. Yellow Stone National Park is the first to establish in the world in 1872in America. In the Subcontinent it was Hailey National Park, renamed Jim Corbett National Park Established in the year 1936 .But credit goes to late Maharaja Partap Sigh who restricted hunting as far back as in 1872. Point is should State Subjects in particular remain a mute spectator till all is lost?

 

(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist)