The little time and experience which I have in the field of conservation and the little that I have seen, witnessed or experienced is that we have an army of people today who like to call themselves birdwatchers, nature photographers and researchers. This army of people travel across the country and the world watching and photographing nature and wildlife. However, except a small section of these individuals, most people stay away from openly speaking up, taking a stand and supporting vital conservation issues at local, national and international level.
Nature and environment today is under tremendous pressure from habitat destruction, poaching, land grabbing and pressure from Corporates with regards to identification of forest tracts for mining, hydro power plants etc. Besides these, even forests, wetlands and other natural habitats are under tremendous pressure from agriculture.
In such times, it’s not plausible for few organisations or individuals to take up issues with government agencies and policy makers as advocacy costs money, expertise and time. Conservationists should take a leaf out from animal activists working mainly for dogs and cats. The way the latter take up animal right issues with great conviction united against people who indulge in animal abuse with police and other government agencies is tremendous. These organisations and individuals have a large and active network of people who get into action the movement any incident is reported.
For instance, few days back, a boy’s video of kicking a dog went viral and in less than 24 hours, he was identified, traced, FIR registered and booked. Such strong conviction is rare in the field of wildlife crime where it takes years of efforts to bring to justice people like Sancharchand or even get an FIR registered.
It so often happens that on various photo sharing groups on social media, we see photos of birds and animals being openly sold, hunted or people engaged in wildlife crimes openly. Unfortunately, no one really takes the lead in making sure that these people are brought to justice. Taking up issues with law enforcement agencies or taking legal help is never even considered an option.
Even though conservationists, birdwatchers, photographers and conservation organisations are an extremely small minority in our country, there are tremendous walls built on ego and other vested interests which prevents from putting forth a unified force that can act together to conserve wildlife.
It is high time that we all come together and debate so that when crimes are done by people, state or government agencies, we all can come together and raise a unified voice as the saying goes he who cries the loudest, gets all the attention.
The Indian law in the form of Wildlife Act of India and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 offers a number of options. What is needed is implementation which can only happen by actively speaking up! All this will not happen if a small group of individuals or only few organisations take up the issue it will only happen when we all come together.
Its high time that if a crime is committed against a bird not only organisations working for birds speak up but also the ones working for Tigers, Plants and other life forms should not keep mum. It’s high time we start using our democratic rights by forming a network of Environmental Lawyers across the country to advice and take up these issues legally, have advocacy groups creating pressure on the government agencies along with help from social, print and electronic media in regards to environment and wildlife issues.
Whether we are photographers, birdwatchers or researchers, we all need to speak up in a unified voice; else most of nature and wildlife that we all love, get inspired from and appreciate, will only remain in photos, books and movies.