Thiruvananthapuram | Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today called for inter-state coordination of southern states to combat wildlife poaching and smuggling of sandalwood and red sanders.
Inaugurating the southern Forest Ministers’ Conference at Kovalam, near here, the Chief Minister said a closer and cohesive approach among the states was necessary as such crimes have trans-border repercussions.
”Our forests are exposed to Illegal cutting of trees like teak, sandal and red sander. The cultivation of ganja in the interior forests and the poaching of animals like elephants and tigers may destroy our ecological foundations. Encroachments and degradation of the elephant and tiger corridors and the emergence of extremist activities in forests pose serious challenges.
We realise that while our States have contiguous forests, the animals also move freely across our boundaries. In the event of inadequate inter-State co-ordination among us, they may become vulnerable to poaching and illegal activities,” he added.
He said some recent incidents of elephant poaching in Kerala and red sander smuggling in Andhra Pradesh pointed to a worrying re-emergence of organised criminal gangs.
‘ Engaging local communities in conservation is necessary because it is the local community that suffers the most due to restricted access to the protected forests and conflict with wild animals like elephants, wild pigs and large cats.”
The Kerala Forest Department has been actively pursuing community participatory approaches to create livelihood opportunities for the local people including the tribals.
Adopting an eco-development approach, the community based eco-tourism models created by the Department have worked effectively to include local communities in conservation.
The story of converting poachers into protectors in Periyar Tiger Reserve is well known. ”We need to wean the local communities away from the lure of quick money from organized poachers and smugglers.
We need to strengthen our protection network with modern technology like satellite based communication systems, early warning systems, drones and radio collars,” he added.
Ministers and senior officials from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana besides Kerala, were participating in the conference.
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