Questions being raised on role of honorary wildlife wardens

Law stipulates they are appointed to ensure people’s participation in conservation

Questions are being raised on whether or not the posts of honorary wildlife warden — appointments to which are made by the government in compliance with the Wildlife Protection Act — serve any purpose at all as envisioned under the Act.

The State government on Thursday announced the appointment of wildlife wardens covering all the districts besides the protected areas, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The law stipulates that such appointments are done to ensure people’s participation in conservation. But over the years, the role of wildlife warden has come under sharp criticism by conservation experts who have said that political connections and influence play a greater role in the selection rather than their commitment towards conservation activities.

This criticism is also borne out by a few controversies in the recent past when honorary wildlife wardens had cases booked against them for violation of laws in a manner detrimental to conservation. While one of the wardens was accused of encroachment of forest land, there was a case against another on the charge of timber smuggling. The present list has a quarry owner whose business interest is inimical to dry land animals, sources said.

Field biologists said the appointment of honorary wildlife wardens has a legal basis and they are supposed to act as an interface between the government and the local community. “But instead, we have wildlife wardens in recent years who have used their appointment only for wildlife photography or to entertain friends and relatives to safaris,” said an activist preferring anonymity.

Moreover, that their appointment has more to do with compliance with legal requirements is borne out by the fact that rarely does the Department of Forests consult them. “Law also provides for a periodic review of the work of honorary wildlife wardens, but no such exercise has been undertaken ever,” the sources said.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 8:12:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/questions-being-raised-on-role-of-honorary-wildlife-wardens/article18958249.ece

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