In a bid to plug the cross-border loopholes in illegal wildlife trade, Traffic India, an NGO, has begun a series of workshops to sensitise the personnel of Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) at the specifically identified vulnerable transit points across the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border. Trade in red sanders, pangolin scales, skins of leopards, tigers and otters, bear bile besides rhino horns and ivory are largely passed through these points.
The SSB is charged with guarding the 1,751-km Indo-Nepal border along the States of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim and the stretch of the Indo-Bhutan border along the States of Sikkim, North Bengal, Assam and, Arunachal Pradesh.
Such workshops are the first of their kind in the country, aimed at strengthening wildlife law enforcement and conservation along borders. With six more workshops lined up with the SSB officials for the next two months, the first of the series concluded in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The next is scheduled at Purnea in Bihar.
“The porous Indo-Nepal border is exploited by illegal wildlife traders to smuggle various contrabands, from India, to sell them off in the international market,” pointed out Additional Director Khalid Pasha, who is coordinating the workshops. The wildlife traders taking advantage of the ignorance of the SSB personnel easily sneak out of these vulnerable check points at the border, with the articles after which it is difficult to nab them, he pointed out.
The areas around Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh are particularly vulnerable particularly for rhino horn poaching and ivory. Participants were thus given ivory identification kits, that enable samples to be quickly tested to confirm whether they are ivory or not.
They were provided with a forensics sample collection kit developed jointly by Wildlife Institute of India and Traffic India. The customised kit would enable field staff to collect samples for forensic analysis. They were also given resources on themes pertaining to wildlife law and enforcement issues.