Long wait for honorary wildlife wardens continues for most districts

Though an honorary post, there is demand for wildlife wardens in areas with wildlife sanctuaries and eco-sensitive zones such as Mysuru, Bengaluru, Chikkamagaluru and Chamarajanagar.  

They are meant to be the vital link between the government and public, crucial to conservation and other environmental issues. But as on today, only five districts have honorary wildlife wardens. And they have not had one since over a year.

According to sources, only around five districts have honorary wildlife wardens at present — Bengaluru, Mysuru, Chikkamagaluru, Chamarajanagar and Chitradurga.

“They were appointed in 2019 by the JD(S)-Congress coalition government. The list had more names, but these were cancelled by the new government,” they said.

Though an honorary post, there is demand for one in areas with wildlife sanctuaries and eco-sensitive zones such as Mysuru, Bengaluru, Chikkamagaluru and Chamarajanagar due to the presence of BRT, Cauvery and Nagarahole sanctuaries, they said. “Apart from the absence of wildlife wardens in many districts, there is also opposition to bringing someone from outside the district who may not have conservation as their main interest instead of locals. It is the same logic that applies to appointments to the State wildlife board, which have become politically motivated,” said one of the honorary wardens, who requested anonymity.

Lack of interest

According to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the State government is supposed to appoint Chief Wildlife Warden, Wildlife Wardens and Honorary Wildlife Wardens.

“The tenure is for two years but extendable. Under the Act, they can be involved in seizures, searches, identification of new conservation areas, etc. They are the link between the Forest Department and the public. As it is an honorary post, not many are showing interest. Some have done good work in that post,” said a conservationist.

Department officials concurred. “In some districts, people do take active part, and in some others, not so much. But invariably, someone will be there for the post. Otherwise, we have to identify someone who is interested in flora and fauna and can contribute to conservation,” said an official.

Their role is to communicate with the community at large, gathering information and passing it on to the department, and act as a link between the public and the department. “The department is uniformed. So there will be a communication gap with the public. Honorary wildlife wardens are supposed to do the job of being the link,” they said.

Response to delay

Asked about the delay in appointments, Vijaykumar Gogi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) said the proposal containing names for all the districts had been sent to the government long ago.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 7:13:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/long-wait-for-honorary-wildlife-wardens-continues-for-most-districts/article35518649.ece

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