Thursday, April 22, 2010

The State of India’s Wildlife Management.

The state of the wildlife management in many of India’s wildlife reserves makes me wonder where the conservation is headed. The knowledge about wildlife is abysmally poor in many areas and the concerned officers make no serious effort to keep themselves current. Reading habit is unknown. Recently I made a quick reconnaissance of untrained officers manning some of our wildlife reserves. What I found was shocking. Many of the officers had absolutely no inkling about the advances in wildlife management. They were beating around the bush in their effort to make an impression and in the process cut a very sorry figure
It may not be possible to train all officers in wildlife management but they can at least do a little bit of reading. This is happening at a time when wildlife institute is finding it difficult to get trainees for their management programmes.  Officers are not willing to go for wildlife training and want to cling on to their plum postings.
There is rot at the top. Officers are more concerned about pandering to the politicians. Last year I attended a workshop in one of India’s premier wildlife reserve. The minister came, did the inauguration and tried to impress on the gathering his interest in the welfare of wildlife. The conference was attended by some of India's leading conservationists. The politicians departed immediately after the inauguration. They have no time to interact with the scientist or even the courtesy to sit though at least one session. I would have been a happy man if the minister had attended at least the presentation of one paper. They had other “pressing affairs”. No wonder India’s wildlife is languishing.
Some of the scientists are also to be blamed. I recently found that in a census equation the error was taken as 20% which is unusually high. This was never put to test objectively. 0.10 could be used.0.05 is more common.0.01 is also sometimes used. There is no follow-up.
99% of the officers had not even the vaguest idea about the free online journals readily available on the net. This brings to my mind a funny incident that occurred in one of the wildlife reserves. A college professor walked up to the wildlife warden and asked about the recruitment. The reply was “The Government has imposed a total ban on recruitment by PSC. The professor was shocked to see the level of ignorance. He steered the subject away from wildlife and started talking about weather.
A total revamp of the system is long overdue. This has to be done on a war footing if India’s wildlife is to survive.


Manoj.KR said...

A real kick on the arse Mohan. You stated the obvious. Keep it up

Sushama KP said...

When we have ministers whose sole aim in life seems to be inauguration, this and more will happen.They are not averse to inaugurate even toilets ig that gives them space in newspapers and television

Anonymous said...

Where have we got time to read, Mohanji, amidst innumerable conferences convened by conservators and God knows how many CCFs. To add to the woes we have ministers suffering from publicity and inauguration mania. Nice post. Keep up the good work

james zacharias said...

Mohanji, is it time to reopen the old debate? About having a separate wildlife service? Conceptually, as the settlement of rights as per the FRA gets over, the Forest Estate will in effect be divided into 3 sectors - Critical Wildlife Habitats, Tribal areas(habitations and NTFP collection areas) and production forests. I think it calls for separate management priorities and capabilities.

SKS said...

James has a valid point here. May be it is time to reopen the debate about a separate wildlife service.

In the past at least some our sanctuaries used to be managed by men of class. Men who had deep affection for wildlife, men who reveled in reading,men who loved music. Now unfortunately we have curmudgeons everywhere ready to lick the boot of the politicians.

rame409 said...

Very very true.This is always the case. The politicians always have more 'pressing affairs' that demand their immediate attention. Wildlife conservation, as a result always gets neglected.
To get info about projects from the forest depts is also very difficult. The head might be gracious to give you the number of the DFO or CCF concerned. But after that it is a lost cause. They are either 'too busy' or 'out of station' with no inkling as to when they'll return.
I attended an inauguration of an environmental scheme recently. I'm not stating the name of the minister involved. He was giving the inaugural speech, and actually fell asleep in the part where he was talking of global warming.
Awareness is low, among the general public.
Like you said, the entire system need to be revamped. But that's easier said than done, right?