TODAY -

Forest guards' strength dwindles, poaching on the rise
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 07, 2013: Acute lack of manpower particularly forest guards in the State Forest Department has consistently provided an easy was for poachers and timber smugglers to carry out their unlawful activities overtly down the years.

Sadly no staff recruitment has taken place in the department since the late eighties, one of the key factors for degrading forest and its rich biodiversity.

To curb the rising trend of poaching and illegal felling of trees in the State, the department has already urged the Government to fill the required staff and to set up a battalion of Forest Protection Force (FPF), a senior officer in the Forest Department said on June 5. Though over 77 percent of the whole geographical area of Manipur is covered by forest, the State has undergone a drastic decline in its biodiversity.

Incidentally no arms have been issued to the available meagre forest guards owing to the volatile law and order situation in Manipur.

The weapons including single and double barrel rifles were taken back after suspected rebels snatched the weapons on many occasions in the 80s, a senior forest official said even as the department is still caught with an old case of missing 90 guns issued to the forest guards 30 years ago.

Smuggling of animal parts into neighboring Myanmar is on the rise even as poaching and smuggling of 'million rupee reptile' Tokay Geckco- is on the rise, said wildlife experts.

There have been numerous cases where large quantity of animal parts like tiger skins, tiger bones, pangolin scales, deer horns and bear glands have been seized by Assam Rifles soldiers and other Government agencies at different security check posts in Chandel district enroute to the border town of Moreh.

In February this year, unarmed forest guards caught red-handed two poachers while they were dressing a carcass of the rare Brow Antlered Deer locally known as Sangai at Keibul Lamjao , the only floating park in the world and the home to the endangered deer.

People for Animal (PFA), Thoubal has already demanded the State Government to install spy Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) inside the unfenced national park to detect poachers.

"With our limited manpower we are trying our best to curb poaching across the State.

The need of the hour is to strengthen the manpower.

The department has weakened since no fresh recruitment took place after 1986 and the employees are retiring from service year after year," lamented the forest officer.


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