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Assam law enforcement and local community collaborate to combat wildlife crime

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HT Bureau
GUWAHATI, Aug 14: Aaranyak, a leading biodiversity conservation organisation, continues to spearhead collaborative efforts in countering the escalating wildlife crime in north-east India. Under their initiative DETERS (Disrupt and End Trade of Endangered and Rare Species), a sensitisation workshop on wildlife crime was organised in partnership with Biswanath police at Biswanath Chariali, showcasing the commitment to multi-agency collaboration.
Conducted at the office of the superintendent of police (SP), Subhashish Barua, the workshop was inaugurated by SP Barua who expressed gratitude towards Aaranyak for orchestrating the event and for their contribution, including the provision of a K9 anti-poaching dog to the police and assistance to Village Defence Parties (VDPs). Attendees included Bijoygiri Kuligam, DIG of Assam Police, Northern Range, who interacted with the Aaranyak team and graced the event held on August 11.
Police personnel from various police stations under the Biswanath Chariali police were enlightened about the current wildlife crime landscape, with a particular emphasis on rhino poaching, by Ivy Farheen Hussain, a project officer at Aaranyak. The session illustrated the intricate collaboration between international and national criminal networks in executing rhino and other wildlife species poaching in north-east India.
Aaranyak’s consulting lawyer, Ajoy Kumar Das, who practices in the Gauhati High Court, briefed the police personnel on the pertinent sections of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, amended in 2022, equipping the investigating officers with necessary legal tools for effective wildlife crime investigations.
Leading the Aaranyak resource team, Dr Jimmy Borah, senior manager at Aaranyak, facilitated the workshop.
Subsequently, another sensitisation program took place with members of the Village Defence Party (VDP) at the community hall of Biswanath Sadar police station. Dr Jimmy Borah, advocate Ajoy Kumar Das, and Sanjib Bezbaruah from Aaranyak engaged with VDP members, pivotal in collaborating with law enforcement to combat wildlife crime. Around 60 participants from six VDPs in Biswanath, including five female VDP members, were equipped with raincoats and shoes generously provided by the UK-based David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF).
Notably, the five female VDP members from Digholi Pukhuri Motok village have been actively involved in preventing wildlife crime.
Sanjib Bezbarua from Aaranyak coordinated the program with VDP members, joined by Jatindra Mohan Das, ranger (crime) of the 6th Addition of Kaziranga National Park (KNP). The event was presided over by CO VDO Gautom Mahanta and attended by deputy adviser of VDP Kandarpa Hazarika.
The VDP members expressed their appreciation to Aaranyak for their support and vowed to diligently patrol the Brahmaputra region to curb any wildlife crime, including hunting offenses.

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