TODAY -
Manpower shortage threat to wildlife, warns PCC
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 28 2009: Lack of man-power, chronic law and order problem in the State and withdrawal of arms from its personnel have been cited as some important factors constricting the State's Forest Department from curbing the menace of wildlife exploitations by poachers and smugglers, according to Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) S Singsit.

Interacting with The Sangai Express today in the backdrop of reports regarding smuggling and seizure of wildlife produce in the State by security forces, Singsit apparently conced-ed that poaching and smuggling of wildlife parts in the State need to be tackled effectively as such activities had been a blot to the Department's image.

He, however, explained that man-power inadequacy and non-issuance of arms to Forest Department personnel since 1979 after large cache of weapons were looted from its Imphal office by suspected rebels are factors impeding the Department from being fully functional.

"Since our rangers, forest guards and foresters remain unarmed, they are not in the position to tackle illegal activities like poaching and smuggling of wild life parts inside the forest.

They cannot carry out their immediate fighting powers.

They are helpless," the PCC said.

His disclosure came in the wake of the seizing consignments of animal parts including tiger skulls and bones, pangolin shells and deer antlers by Assam Rifles soldiers at Bongyang post in Chandel district which shares a porous border with Myanmar.

Citing law and order pro-blems afflicting the State as the main stumbling block for not arming forest personnel which could have otherwise been purposeful in patrolling of forest and wildlife sanctuary areas, Singsit also pointed to acute lack of staff to explain inefficiency of the Department in the field of wildlife protection.

Over 100 posts of Forest Guard is informed to be lying vacant in the Department, according to the officer who also grimly observed that the situation is unlikely to improve as Government ban on fresh recruitment covers Forest Department, too.

With the recruitment ban being enforced since about 15 years and coupled with gradual depletion of the staff strength owing to service superannuation and other reasons, the Department is faced with an uphill task to live upto expectation of the people, Singsit lamented adding that one more officer would be retiring today.

"We have already appraised the government to allow filling the vacant posts to strengthen the department but nothing comes out in a positive way," he said.

Because of lack of staff, the 72 range and 53 beat offices spread over the state are not functional in the most desired manner.

"In spite of these hur-dles, we are doing our level best to protect forest and wild life," the forest chief said.

Besides putting the employees on vigil round the clock to guard forest areas particularly Keibul Lamjao national park and Yangou-pokpi Lokchao wildlife sanctuary in Chandel district, the department also frequently conducts public awareness campaigns to protect wild life, he added.


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