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.