1 Tahrcountry Musings: The need for a shakeup in wildlife setup - Another guest post from Ramesh

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The need for a shakeup in wildlife setup - Another guest post from Ramesh

Guest post from Ramesh

This post is an adjunct to my last post on my visit to Eravikulam.

Why is it that we are unable to build a cadre of officers truly dedicated to wildlife conservation? The knowledge about wildlife of some of our officers’ manning wildlife reserves is abysmally poor. Commitment to welfare of wildlife is unheard of in their dictionary. Pandering to the whims and fancies of higher ups and politicians gets them the kind of posting they want in their preferred areas.

Last year my friend Mohanji made a quick reconnaissance of untrained officers manning some of our wildlife reserves. What he found was shocking. Many of the officers had absolutely no inkling about the advances in wildlife management. They don’t read the scientific literature pertaining to their filed. When confronted with questions pertaining to wildlife they beat around the bush in their effort to make an impression and in the process cut a very sorry figure.

The rot is very serious in the lower echelons. Building a band of dedicated frontline staff is not that difficult. In every recruitment programme of forest department there are at least a couple of good guys who are keen about wildlife. Why is it that we are unable to identify them and post them in wildlife and keep them there? If there is will we can easily assemble a dedicated team in a matter of 5 years.  Again another quote from Mohanji “  Trying to inculcate the ethics of wildlife conservation in forest guards who have put in years of service in regular forestry operations is sheer waste of time’.  I have absolutely no hesitation in emphasising that the main stumbling block is lack of political will. The local cronies of big time politicians call the shots and even dedicated guys that you can count on your fingers lose heart within a short span.

Time is running out. The imperative for a major shake up in the wildlife set up is clearly visible. If we don’t wake up and do something immediately the story of disappearing tigers, rhinos et al will continue to haunt us.


Nancy Cook said...

Ramesh is perfectly right in his assessment.Dedication is at a premium now.35 years back when tourists were allowed in Tahnikkudy Bungalow of Periyar Tiger reserve, I stayed there for two nights. On the second day of stay, I happened to see a team of five men, led by Mohan going out at midnight in search of poachers. They had received information from an indigenous man. It was pouring cats an dogs and very very windy. I could hear peals of thunder. I was quite amazed at the zeal of the guys. They could very well have waited till the morning. Yes, dedication is the key for successful conservation. We need men with dedicated guys who breathes fire on seeing poachers. This guy Mohan,had nerves of steel and incredible stamina where it matters.

Thomas Mathew,Mumbai said...

Ms Nancy Cook is right in saying that dedication is at a premium. Coming to Periyar, 70s was marked by an increase in poaching followed by the emergence of tough dedicated guys under the leadership of Mohanji. The poachers who were ruling the roost were on the run.The whole thing was spoiled when politicians walked in to set things right. We need politicians who have genuine love for wildlife. Without political will the officers are hamstrung. I was a frequent visitor to Periyar those days and has seen the whole story unfolds.

Anonymous said...

You can count the guys in Kerala on your finger tips. Mohanji,James Zachariah,Unnikrishnan that is all. The story is not very different in other states of India.You can count the dedicated guys on your fingers

Anonymous said...

Not only a shake up, but a good kick on the buttocks is needed. Chamchas rule the roost in wildlife. How else do you explain some of the postings in some of the prestigious sanctuaries ?. What qualification have they got apart from their ability to pander to the wishes of the higher ups in the department. The need of the hour is dedicated men who love wildlife, and who do not see it as a mere job that pays at the end of the month