Poaching threatens wildlife in India as lockdown prompts jobless to hunting

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Since the time India went into lockdown, at least six leopards and four tigers have been killed by poachers. One of the many similar instances. The spike in poaching comes at a time when people are increasingly losing ethical jobs.

According to the Associated Press (AP), hunting and trapping equipment in the dense forests of southern India has become increasingly common during the lockdown. The reason, AP notes is that the lockdown induced effect on the economy has forced many people to lose their job, and hence the illegal slaughtering to feed families.

Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

Mayukh Chatterjee, a wildlife biologist from the non-profit Wildlife Trust of India told the AP that although it is risky to poach, but is pushed to the brink, they might think the risk is worthwhile, he said referring to the jobless who are resorting to hunting.

Alarming spike

On May 9th, a greater one-horned rhino in Kaziranga National Park was killed, in the first cases in more than a year. A wildlife warden in the Assam, Uttam Saikia told international poaching ring who commission the killing pays a meager amount to the families for food. Given the time and circumstances undercover poaching units will surely take the benefit, Saika warned.

Photo by VITALIY ANOKHIN on Unsplash

Indian wildlife authorities are concerned that the poaching induced harm will not only threaten the apex predators like endangered tigers and leopards but also the species they feed upon. Numerous poaching casualties of gazelles, peacocks, wild boars, and giant squirrels have been noted in the country since lockdown.

Killings doubled

In a recent report, TRAFFIC noted that the killing of wild animals for sale and consumption has increased significantly in India in the months following the lockdown. TRAFFIC is a leading wildlife traffic tracking outlet.

“Reports of poaching incidences for consumption and local trade have more than doubled during lockdown although there was no evidence of stockpiling of wildlife products for future trade,” the TRAFFIC report read. They analyzed media reports of poaching of a six-week pre-lockdown period, with another six-week of post lockdown period. It turned out poaching activities rose from 35 to 88. However, it must be noted that media reports might have changes owing to lockdown.

Image courtesy of @TRAFFIC_India via Twitter

The highest number of poaching was reported for hooved animals like or ungulates, for self-consumption or resale, the sort report noted. There was a 22% spike in percentage in post lockdown levels. The next most poached species were of the small mammals like hares, porcupines, pangolins, giant squirrels, civets, and monkeys, among others; for local trade, presumably, the report notes.

Mr. Ravi Singh, SG & CEO, WWF-India noted: “If poaching of ungulates and small animals remains unchecked it will lead to depletion of a prey base for big cats like Tigers and Leopards and a depletion of the ecosystems. This in turn will lead to higher incidences of human-wildlife conflicts and will undermine the significant successes that India has achieved in the field of wildlife conservation”.