Two Day Workshop on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking in Kawal Tiger Reserve
April 24, 2019: A two-day training was conducted by WCS-India and Telangana State Forest Department at Kawal Tiger Reserve Forest Office Complex, Nirmal. The training focused on building capacity of forest officers to understand the scale of wildlife trade, impacts of wildlife trafficking, protocols to be followed during investigation, search and seizure, powers entrusted to the forest officers under India’s wildlife protection law and efforts to improve conviction rate of wildlife criminals in the state. A total of 50 Range Officers and Guards and 5 Divisional Forest Officers were present for the training.
On Day 1, Mr. C.P. Vinod Kumar, IFS, Field Director – Project Tiger, Kawal Tiger Reserve inaugurated the workshop. He thanked WCS-India and shared heartening news of an increase in filing of offence reports in wildlife offences in the State since the previous workshops organised in Telangana by WCS-India. He laid down the objective of training and the outcome it seeks. He asked all the participating officers to empower themselves with this training and take an oath that in the near future, wildlife offences will be brought down considerably.
The training commenced with Mr. Imran Siddiqui, Assistant Director, Conservation Science, WCS-India sensitising participants on the gravity of the issue and how wildlife trade is an organized crime with a huge international consumer market. Using videos he depicted the scale of the organized crime across the world and the links it has with terrorism. He focussed on the need of building a strong informant network and cultivating intelligence to strengthen wildlife cases.
Ms. Namrata Kabra, Legal Assistant, WCS-India gave an overview of the prohibitions and punishments prescribed in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The provisions were simplified to encourage the officers to apply the right provisions while filing cases. Thereafter, Ms. Mridula Vijairaghavan, Legal Advisor, WCS-India conducted a session covering the powers of forest officers and procedures to be followed during search, seizure, investigation and arrest in wildlife offences. She highlighted the documents to be drafted and submitted with the Wildlife Offence Report, with a focus on grounds for rejection of bail.
The last session was a simulation exercise where WCS-India trainers recreated a crime scene. This enabled a practical demonstration of the steps for investigating a crime scene, collecting and sealing evidence, interrogating the accused and drafting a Wildlife Offence Report.
Day 2 of the workshop on commenced with an interactive session on the essentials of a Complaint conducted by Ms. Mridula Vijairaghavan. She highlighted important procedural aspects of constructing an effective prosecution case such as protocol for recording confessionary statements, maintaining a case diary, preparation of witness and the essential documents to be submitted with a Complaint.
Mr. Munindra, IFS, APCCF (Admin & Wildlife) was present during the training and along with Mr. C.P. Vinod Kumar, IFS, FDPT, KTR, Ms. Mridula Vijairaghavan and Mr. Imran Siddiqui held an interactive session to assist the participants on challenges they face in fighting wildlife cases.
In the valedictory programme, Mr. Munindra, IFS, APCCF (Admin & Wildlife) motivated the participants by sharing his field experiences and stressing the importance of understanding legal provisions. Mr. C.P. Vinod Kumar, IFS, CCF, FDPT, KTR congratulated the forest officers for actively participating in the workshop.
This is the third training workshop conducted by WCS-India in Telangana. These workshops are aimed to build capacity and sensitise multiple agencies to combat wildlife trafficking.