Hindu, Islamic and wildlife terror

Hindu or Islamic terror creates ripples but wildlife terror remains low on public radar, a paradox difficult to digest.

The week when comments of Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on RSS-BJP supporting terror created national controversy, killing of four Rhinos in country’s richest bio-diverse and world heritage site, Kaziranga National Park missed all attention.

Just because wild animals cannot vote and elect our future leaders and are voiceless, their protection is on the lowest ebb of internal security.

What our political rulers fail to understand is that the wild animals are epitomes of our history and ecological diversity and indicates health of our ecology, crucial for overall health of the country.

On Saturday, the fourth big horn animals became victim to bullets in an exchange of fire between poachers and forest guards that lasted for over an hour.

And, in a year or so the highly-armed poachers have killed about 25 rhinos. In the last decade or do, around 115 rhinos have been poached in Kaziranga alone.

A recent alert by International Union for Conservation of Nature, a UN recognized body, said that rhino poaching and illegal horn trade in the past year was highest in over 20 years and was threatening to reverse years of conservation efforts.

The maximum killing of Rhinos with helicopter laden poachers have taken place in the African continent. In countries like South Africa, the government had to call Army to fight poachers.

Situation in Kaziranga is fast approaching similar level. Poachers may not have helicopters but are using highly specialized weaponry such as AK-47 guns to kills rhinos and combat ill-equipped and poorly trained forest department officials.

Around half of the posts of forest guards are lying empty and the weapons they have can easily don museum.

I wonder whether such sort of situation would have been allowed in Indian Army or any para-military force fighting with naxals.

Possibly no, because it would have created a sense of insecurity among citizens, who can vote and decide our future governments.

The IUCN said that conservation in Nepal and India has resulted in increased number of Rhinos and a reason for sustained attack of poachers.

Kaziranga’s closeness to Myanmar makes it easy for poachers to smuggle the priceless horn out of the country.

Everyone knows how porous border check-posts are in north-eastern parts of India and a few bucks are enough to cross over.

India has failed to invest in its wildlife protection, except for tigers to some extent. Unlike many western countries, India does not have a dedicated wildlife protection force, which can be sent to an area of high conflict.

As a result, fighting poachers is job of elderly and less agile forest guards. In the end, winners are poachers.

We, sadly, debate two types of terror — Hindu and Islamic. Wildlife terror goes missing from our public discourse.

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