Legal and Advocacy Division
The Legal and Advocacy Division has been proactively operational to assist enforcement agencies curb crime against wildlife, particularly poaching and illegal trade on wildlife and its finished products. It runs a Wildlife Crime Monitoring Project (WCMP), and has been continuously monitoring the modus operandi of wildlife offenders which serves as complimentary investigative aid for the enforcement agencies. The project works as a watchdog over occurrence of wildlife crimes and if possible, its doers, to analyse the causation of wildlife crimes and constantly build strategies to mitigate it.
“Disrupt and End Trade of Endangered and Rare Species”
The initiative will be an umbrella for various objectives which would contribute to the greater goal of putting an end to wildlife trafficking and illegal trade routes of endangered and rare species.
- Sensitizing agencies including but not limited to border, transport, enforcement and judiciary about wildlife crime, its severity and actions required to minimise it.
- Training the frontline forest staff on their role in proper wildlife crime investigations, actions and penalties.
- Engaging with non-wildlife sectors like business, banking and private corporations to guide them on their contribution in curbing wildlife crime.
- Building capacity of agencies on identifying different types of illegal wildlife products and their derivatives.
- Using media platforms to engage, educate and broadcast about wildlife crime and laws against it.
- Facilitating dialogue among multiple stake-holders and developing a focussed, unified and versatile strategy document to ensure a sustainable all-rounded approach to control illegal wildlife trade effectively.
- Raising awareness among the young generation about wildlife, conservation and crime.
- Undertaking field surveys to understand the markets and trade routes with a focus on lesser-known species like pangolins.
This division organizes workshops, training and awareness among various enforcement agencies in the region on wildlife crime, crime scene investigations, legal aspects,information gathering and detecting illegal wildlife products. These workshops have helped a range of law enforcement agencies to tackle wildlife crimes primarily Forests & Police officials during past two decades. The division has also been pursuing key Public Interest Litigations in the Courts in the interest of forest and wildlife and has been successful in obtaining favourable orders for conservation.
The legal orientation workshops often cover the laws like the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 as amended, Forest Conservation Act of 1980, Environment Protection Act of 1986, Biodiversity Act 2002, Indian Panel Code of 1860, Code of criminal Procedure of 1973, Indian Evidence Act of 1872, Arms Act of 1959, Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act of 1960 etc. The species included in Appendix 1 of CITES are also discussed in such legal orientation camps.
Around 28 workshops and training programs were conducted last year (2021), and further sensitization programme and events are planned for the year 2022. These workshops training program has been conducted with border, transport, enforcement and judiciary agencies. The LAD is also carrying out field surveys in different part of the region to understand the illegal trade routes as well as to determine the network. Surveys have already been conducted in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, while further surveys are being planned or underway in other states, with a link to Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries.
Market surveys are also integral part of the initiative. The initiative is also working on generating support and awareness on wildlife crime among young generation through webinars and interactions.
Another important contribution of LAD has been the K9 dog-squad comprising of six Belgian Melinoise dog along with its handlers, which have been active to assist forest and police officials in Kaziranga and Manas National Park along with other rhino bearing areas in Assam resulting into arrest of many poachers by law enforcement agencies.
The reason why this particular breed is preferred, is because of their extreme prey drive capability. They are capable of even assisting arrests of suspects if the situation demands. Once they pick up a scent and track and come to a lead, they have the capability of outrunning and bringing the suspect down in case the suspect tries to escape. This sniffer Dog Squad has assisted the forest officials with vital clue of poacher’s exit route after the rhino poaching incidences leading to arrest of culprits by the forest and police officials in different cases.
The K9 unit has been running with generous support received from UK based organization, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation since 2011 and NABU-Germany since 2017.
Partners and collaborators: