NAGPUR: Director General (Forests) and special secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) SS Garbyal was on a tour of Vidarbha forests on April 18 and 19, which apparently included only Pench and Tadoba.
On his first visit to city on Saturday, he failed to give specific replies to media queries related to poaching in the region. However, he took the opportunity to praise the front line staff of the state forest department.
"The general trend is that there is a dearth in the front line staff of forest departments in the country. Around 40% vacancies are lying vacant. Also, the current staff is ageing. But here in Pench I found otherwise. The staff is comparatively young and alert," Garbyal said.
On the issue of several poaching cases which have surfaced in the region, Garbyal said, "Yes, we have heard some news about it. The MoEF intervenes through the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB). We mainly deal with poaching of tiger, rhino and elephant. The demand for various parts of these animals is not in India but abroad. We are coordinating with international agencies like Interpol and also seeking help from paramilitary forces in such cases."
Both, Garbyal and Head of Forest Force (HoFF) SWH Naqvi said an amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act was pending in the Rajya Sabha which would strengthen the punishments listed in it. "While it is a fact that many poaching cases have come to fore, some good things have happened too. Such coordination in action has never been seen before between officials in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and even Karnataka and arrests have been made from different regions. Also, we are among the first states that have operationalized and used secret funds," said Naqvi.