A famous film actor, Salman Khan, killed a black buck, a protected species. Did this catapult poaching of wild life into the headlines? Nope!
Here are two reasons why it should:
- Between 2014 and 2016, there was a 52 % hike in poaching and wildlife crimes. The numbers is 2017 are believed to be at least 30% higher.
- In the last three months, a total of 162 leopards and 36 tigers died in the country, as per data released by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), almost a 20% increase over the same period last year, although not all deaths were due to poaching.
- Poached species increased from 400 in 2014 to 465 in 2016.
Whether it’s Blackbucks, Blue bulls, Chinkaras, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinoceroses, Spotted deer, Turtles, and Wild boars and different species of wild birds – all are under threat. 200 species of birds found in India are traded to be used for different purposes. Even insects, like butterflies.
Between 2015 and 2016, 340 peacocks were killed, a 193 percent rise over 2014.
Did you catch that headline a few days ago, about 105 Alexandrine parakeet chicks and 48 rose-ringed parakeets being smuggled into Ahmedabad? Out of these 50% of the rose-ringed parakeets were found dead!
And in 2017, a cache of 117 kg of nilgai (blue bull) meat, leopard skins, ivory, deer horns, antlers from antelopes and blackbucks, and deer skulls were found in the home of a retired colonel and his national level shooter son in North India.
Why this carnage? Despite having such strict laws? The government is doing something. 192 poachers were caught in just 3 years in one park. But if it isn’t working, is it because the punishment if caught is just 4 years? If convicted.
There aren’t enough people to enforce anti-poaching laws, and nor are the guards properly equipped.
Why has the illegal trade in wild life increased? Demand is just one aspect of it. International gangs are involved, and it is all very well organised. There’s big money in it. For example, each rhino horn fetches about Rs 300,000 rupees ($4,600) in India and at least 30 percent more in the international market.
Finally it’s all about greed, and our ever increasing criminal population. So easy to kill and capture animals and birds, so little chance of being caught, so little punishment.
And our burgeoning population means that humans are encroaching on animal lands. That is a big issue as well.
If we aren’t careful we will soon be a country full of dogs, cats, chicken, cattle, pigeons and crows. Oh yes, there will be a few exotic animals in zoos. I wonder what this will do to our ecology.