New Delhi: Viewing poaching with cross-border linkages as a "major problem" to wildlife conservation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked intelligence and enforcement agencies to coordinate better to break the nexus between those involved in the illegal activity and their markets.
He noted the criticality of "voluntary and fair" relocation of settlements in protected areas for wildlife conservation but admitted that lack of adequate funds for such purposes is an "issue" and needed to be discussed with states.
He asked the Environment Ministry to strengthen the regional offices by inducting wildlife experts not only to monitor the implementation of wildlife schemes but also to ensure strict adherence to conditions of wildlife clearances.
A proposal is also under process for expanding the number of regional offices, field units and forensic labs of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau besides creation of a national database on wildlife crime and criminals, Singh said.
The government would try its best to ensure adequate allocations under schemes aimed at achieving policy objectives related to conservation of wildlife habitats, he said addressing a meeting of National Board for Wildlife here.
"Poaching is a major problem affecting our wildlife conservation efforts," Singh said.
Talking about cross-border linkages, he said the demand for body parts and derivatives of wild animals is posing a "serious threat to our conservative efforts".
To counter this threat, "we need greater coordination between the intelligence agencies and enforcement agencies", Singh said.
He said international cooperation, including joint efforts with China, Nepal and Russia for tiger conservation, "also needs to be intensified to break the nexus between poachers and illegal wildlife markets."
Singh said the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 provides the statutory framework for conservation and "it is essential that its provisions keep up with the times".
The Prime Minister noted that a number of amendments had been processed to the Act to increase penal provisions and incorporate provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Referring to the increase in the number of protected areas carved out from forest areas identified as potentially rich wildlife habitats, he said it is "a welcome step. But we have the responsibility to safeguard the livelihoods of local communities dependent on forest resources."
Proper utilization of natural resources by promotion and adoption of non-invasive livelihood options can go a long way in supporting socio-economic development of forest dependent communities, including tribal populations, he said.
"Management of wildlife in such human dominated landscapes requires an inclusive approach involving the local people who are primary stakeholders," Singh said.
"Voluntary and fair relocation of villages and settlements is crucial for wildlife conservation," the Prime Minister said, adding "lack of adequate funds for such purposes is an issue."
He suggested assessment of the experience of using State CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) funds for voluntary relocation from Protected Areas. "This is an issue on which further discussions are required with the concerned state governments."
Talking about the importance of conserving endangered species other than large mammals like the tiger, he said the government had initiated a new centrally-sponsored scheme Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats to focus, among other things, on the need to ensure better protection of wildlife outside the protected areas and initiate recovery programmes for saving critically endangered species.
"I am happy that a number of species have been covered under the scheme including marine life and birds," he said.