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Go local, for wildlife safety (Nov)

The Hindu Business Line ,New Delhi, 7th November, 2013
Correspondent :
As part of an interesting initiative, two scientists from Hungary have arrived in Nagaland to satellite-track one of its winter guests, the Amur falcon. Every year, these migratory birds travel up to 22,000 km to take temporary refuge in this hilly State. However, the birds are hardly received with the sentiment of atithi devo bhava as they are widely culled and put on sale in the local markets.
As an example of effective intervention, however, efforts taken by churches, NGOs, and the Forest Department ensured that no Amur falcon was killed this year. The satellite-tracking programme, in collaboration with scientists from the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the United Nations Environment Programme, aims at tracking the seasonal migration patterns of the birds more closely to arrive at an elaborate plan for conservation of these birds.
Environmentalists such as Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment, have been underlining how important and indispensable the participation of local communities is when it comes to conserving any species of animal. Indigenous knowledge built over generations can help form a comprehensive conservation plan. It is true that local knowledge does not prevent communities from exploiting wildlife in their region, but mediation from the higher authorities with suitable policies can address that (as Narain had pointed out during her stint as the head of the Tiger Task Force).
She has stressed the necessity of a ‘from-the-below’ approach, taking the interests and knowledge of local communities into account. However, she has rued how rarely that happens and said there is the lack of a sensitive approach to understanding the relationship between humans and wildlife. Given the complete lack of any scope to look at local communities of India in our curriculum or social practice, such a lack of sensitivity can hardly be blamed.
The Hindu Business Line, New Delhi, 7th November, 2013
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(This article was published on November 6, 2013)