Workshop topics

Aaranyak conducts workshop on wildlife crime in Arunachal Pradesh

DIRANG- Against the backdrop of a wildlife crime scenario where one of the country’s largest neighbors is seen as a major consumer of wildlife, the leading research-based biodiversity conservation organization Aaranyak (www. .aaranyak.org) with support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) conducted two wildlife crime awareness workshops for SSB personnel based in Dirang (30th Battalion) and Tawang (38th Battalion) in the ‘Arunachal Pradesh.

About 130 elite personnel from the country’s Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Armed Border Force, based in Dirang and Tawag in the border state of Arunachal Pradesh, were enlightened on their important role in verifying the steeply sloping graph of wildlife crime that has transcended geographic boundaries across the globe.

The booming illegal wildlife trade is now the 4th largest in the world after the illegal drug trade, arms smuggling and human trafficking. It has posed a serious threat to wildlife in India’s biodiversity-rich northeast border region.

The Aaranyak Resource Team led by Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, CEO and world renowned scientist in wildlife conservation and wildlife crime monitoring, interacted with 128 SSB staff of the 30th, 38th and 37th (Lumla) battalions during the two workshops organized on Wednesday and Thursday.

Aaranyak’s team enlightened SSB staff on the dire need to protect the country’s precious wildlife from the hawkish global racket of wildlife crime and trade and the important role that SSB plays as a force border guard can play in this effort. SSB personnel have also been briefed on how this wildlife trade racket is a serious threat to national security due to its complex connection to global armed smugglers and insurgents in the region.

Both workshops were honored by respective SSB Battalion Commanders – Upendra Kumar (Dirang) and Ganga Singh Udawat (Tawang).

Setting the tone for the workshop in Dirang, Commander Upendra Kumar said, “India’s Constitution grants equal rights to human beings and animals – both deserve to live free from torture. As Indians, we must respect “ahimsa” and the threat posed to all animals and plants must be fought. Border security – local, national or international is essential. Otherwise, we cannot keep our treasures.

In the Tawang workshop, Commander Ganga Singh Udawat addressing the SSB staff said, “We are the pillars of society. As executives of the SSB, we are the defenders of the law. All our heart and all our soul must strive to speak for the voiceless. Wildlife cannot talk about the injustices done to them. It is we who must ensure that they are protected and that they obtain justice.

Both SSB commanders appreciated Aaranyak for addressing the lack of discussion and awareness among SSB cadres regarding such an important topic. They called on Aaranyak to spend more fruitful time with SSB personnel in the future by organizing such sessions which will help the force fight effectively for the cause of wildlife protection.

Addressing the workshops, Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar highlighted the global perspectives of wildlife crime as it relates to the Indian subcontinent and how wildlife in the biodiverse northeast region is at risk .

He made SSB staff aware of Aaranyak’s sustained efforts in research and policy reform to protect wildlife in the region. He highlighted how Aaranyak acts as a catalyst with different stakeholders ranging from the police to the judiciary to the general public to raise awareness about wildlife crime.

The Senior Director of Aaranyak’s Legal and Advocacy Division (LAD), Dr. Jimmy Borah, addressing the workshop, made presentations on how wildlife crime affects society and why it must be prioritized. “Civil unrest, proliferation of zoonotic diseases, loss of livelihoods, drug trafficking, arms trade are closely linked to the illegal wildlife trade,” he said and underlined how border guard forces are of the utmost importance in combating the illegal wildlife trade.

In her presentation, Aaranyak Manager Ivy Farheen Hussain highlighted some case studies from Arunachal Pradesh over the past few years and discussed how wildlife criminals operate locally. She also talked about which wildlife species are most vulnerable to wildlife crime in the region and why.

The SSB is deployed along the country’s borders with Nepal and Bhutan. It is one of seven Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).