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                                                              I am the voice of the voiceless; Through me the dumb shall speak,                                                                

Till the deaf world's ears be made to hear, The wrongs of the wordless weak.

It was a Sunday morning in the month of April 1999. Suddenly some animal activists, with the help of police, raided a local live-stock market where many birds of Indian species were being sold, many of those are in the schedule of endangered animals' list of the Indian Wildlife Act of 1972. In this Act it is clearly mentioned that,all those who sell, buy or keep scheduled animals or birds are equally guilty. but until that day, the illegal trade in wild life was going on openly in Galiff Street live stock market, in North Calcutta. [Caged Fascinations>]. Calcuttans wondered,.. who ordered a stop to this illegal trade & took the necessary action against those traders ! It was Mr. Dinesh Chandra Vajpai , IPS, the then Commissioner of Police, Calcutta. Mr. Vajpai has retired as the Director General of Police, West Bengal.

   

Q. In our country, the Wildlife Protection Act has been implemented in 1972. And, there it is mentioned that if any one sales or buys any of the species of animals, birds or plants which is enlisted in the schedule of Endangered Species, he / she will be punished. But still in our country, the illegal wildlife trade is going on smoothly. Here in Calcutta, there is a live-stock market, where many endangered species of birds are being sold. And you are the first Commissioner of Police, who took the necessary action to stop that illegal trades. Which mental setup made you felt to stop that illegal wildlife trade ?

A. Actually, I am always aware of the environment and conservation. In North Calcutta, there is a livestock market in Galiff Street. When I saw that many endangered species of Indian birds are being sold there, then I took the necessary action to stop that illegal trade with the help of that Wildlife Protection Act 1972. But it was not possible to us to stop that trade, without the help of local NGOs, who deals with animal rights and conservation. Because we realized that, it need a public awareness to stop that trade. So, we invited some NGOs to a meeting, and decided to take action against those bird-sellers who sell endangered Indian birds. Then People For Animals  and Compassionate Crusaders Trust – two NGO’s of Calcutta come to co-operate with us. Their volunteers started to make people and not to buy the endangered Indian birds. They help us to identify those unscrupulous traders so that we could arrest them easily.

Q. Very recently we have heard that, in the Sundarbans, some local people killed a tiger, and skinned it. What action have you taken for that incident ?

A. No, actually we have no right to take any action in the forest area where the tiger was killed, because that area is under the Department of Forests and Wild life ………

 Q. That’s true, but after killing, the illegal wildlife trade is going on the locality, which is under your department not in the forest……

 A. Yes, for that illegal trade we always keep watch to those localities near forest areas. We also appeal to the local NGOs to inform us about those illegal trades, traders and also buyers. Recently, we have created a post of Inspector General (Forest) only to prevent this illegal wildlife trade and poaching. The I.G. will work in conjugation with the Forest Department. Now Mr. R.P. Singh is on that post. But again I say that it is not possible only for us, the Police force, to stop that wildlife trade and poaching untill and unless the NGO’s help us.

Mr. Dinesh Ch. Vajpai  I.P.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOLLOW YOUR HEART
Jane Goodall needs no introduction. One of the world's greatest conservationists, she has studied the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania for the past forty seven years. She formed the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 for wildlife research, conservation and education. Roots and Shoots, an initiative of the Jane Goodall Institute, aimed principally to nurture socially mature and responsible citizens was formed in 1991. It now has branches in 96 countries and has hundreds and thousands of members worldwide. Compassionate Crusaders Trust has an association with her efforts since Nick and Kylee January, Roots and Shoots volunteers in Ontario , Canada , visited the Compassionate Crusaders Trust in 2003 and interacted with schoolchildren and animal enthusiasts in the city.[What is Roots & Shoots? - Nick January<http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/44912104.cms>]

Dr Goodall has received numerous prizes, among them the John Paul Getty Prize for Wildlife Conservation, the Gandhi/KingAward for NonViolence, the French Legion d'honneur and Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London. In 2002, she was named as a United Nations Messenger of Peace by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Dr Goodall was in Kolkata for two days during 18th and
19th January, 2007
, as part of an educational tour organized by the British Council. She was interviewed by one of our ex-volunteers, who accompanied her and her secretary Mary Lewis, on a trip to Kolkata Zoo.

Dr Goodall graciously answered the following questions:

Ms.Jane Goodall & Mr.Hope

Q. Could you please tell us something about this trip?

A. This is my second visit to India . I travel almost 300 days every year trying to make people aware of the importance of wildlife conservation and preserving the environment. I am here to promote the WildScreen Film Festival that is trying to bring the best wildlife films to an Indian audience. WildScreen has a significant role to play in making people aware of their responsibility towards the environment.

Q. What do you think about the cultural ethos of animal protection in this country?

A. India , especially Eastern India , has always had an ethic of respecting animals. In this region, there was no sharp demarcation drawn between animals and human animals.

Q. Human animal conflict is on the rise everywhere in India . Animals have been stoned and burnt alive in recent days. There have been suggestions to cull elephants. How you view all these developments?

A. This is a difficult issue and there is no single black and white answer. There are too many people on this planet. One of the good aspects of the higher primates is that they have zero population growth. We could learn a lot from that. People living in fringe areas of forests have to be helped so that they protect the animals rather than destroy them. We do this in the TACARE(Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education) project in Tanzania . To save animals in the wild, poverty has to addressed and sustainable natural resource management encouraged. Each situation merits separate consideration.

Q. Please tell us something about your doll, Mr H?

A. He was given to me by Gary Haun, a blind magician who is an amazing person. Gary is such a fabulous performer that in his shows people do not realize he is blind till the show is over. He gave me this doll and I carry him everywhere I go. Gary told me that Mr H is a symbol of inspiration and he has been with me for over ten years now. He has been blessed by Buddhist monks in Tibet and been touched by millions of people worldwide who have imbibed Gary 's inspiration.

Q. What are your views on great apes in zoos?

A. I am not against keeping animals in zoos. There are good zoos and bad zoos. I sometimes think the chimpanzees in good zoos are better off than their cousins in the wild who are under constant threat of hunting for the bushmeat trade.

Q. But the Great Ape Project that seeks to provide great apes with the rights to life, liberty and freedom from torture would preclude the acceptance of these animals being kept in captivity, wouldn't it?

A. Theoretically yes. But one has to realize that even after the UN passage of the Human Rights Charter, there are gross human rights violations all over the world. The developed countries are as guilty of these violations as the developing and the underdeveloped world. The ideal of the Great Ape Project would not vanish the situation we have for great apes in captivity as it presently exists. We have to work gradually towards attainment of that ideal and do whatever we can to help the animals that are presently in captivity. Our Chimpanzoo project tries to achieve exactly that.

Q. What are your impressions of Kolkata Zoo?

A. I was particularly saddened to see so many of the animals alone. There seems to be little educational material, and supervision of the staff was very lax or quite non existent while I was there. I was particularly disturbed by a large group of students who were jeering the big cats in their cages. If a zoo has captive wildlife, then they also have a duty to ensure that they have the best possible captive life. They also have a wonderful opportunity to educate visitors so that they can learn about these amazing beings and their natural habitat and so to care more for the wild animals which India is so privileged to have. There was a lot of litter, particularly disturbing when it is lying in moats and ponds and not enough large litter bins nor notices to encourage the public to take care to use them. The gardens are potentially beautiful, visitors should be encouraged to help keep them that way. The bear cages were particularly depressing and TOTALLY INADEQUATE AND UNA CCEPTABLE. While the bears definitely need a much larger enclosure, something should be done immediately. These are intelligent animals, they need things to do, like the chimpanzees, sand or some other soft substance, water. For the chimpanzee enclosure, for very little money, it would be possible to build a quite elaborate climbing structure with poles, platforms, shade from the sun, ropes and other such items. I wanted to ask someone why the chimpanzees were not kept together but there was no one to ask. It would not be expensive to install an artificial termite mound that can be filled with a variety of substances. There are many other devices for enrichment that can be introduced at very low cost that provide stimulation for chimpanzees. A very simple enrichment is to throw handfuls of grain food, raisins and so onto the grass. The chimpanzees would spend  long hours searching in the grass. The information on the board was not quite accurate-it says chimpanzees can live u
p to 37 years- in fact they can live for more than 65 years in captivity. Why are the big cats kept in solitary confinement? Why do most of them have no way of moving up off the ground-which is particularly important for leopards who do not spend time on the ground. The enclosures are bleak, sterile and completely inappropriate. The monkeys are bored. We know how intelligent parrots are. The birds need things to occupy them. More branches for climbing about on, and a variety of things hung on the branches they can interact with.

Q. What are your principal concerns in the Roots and Shoots programme?

A. We focus on three areas, people, animals and the environment. Children decide to take up a project of their choice. They can help the homeless and destitute people in need of attention, care for stray animals and there are so many street dogs in India who are suffering and they can develop schemes to recycle waste to treat the environment with respect.

Q. Do you plan to start a Roots and Groups group in India ?

A. I have never planned for setting up Roots and Shoots groups. It has always been an individual who has come over and expressed his eagerness to start such a group in his locality. I guess we are awaiting the arrival of such individuals in India .

Q. What animal cruelty issues disturb you the most?

A. Animals in laboratories, the bushmeat trade and factory farming distress me. There are any number of other issues but I have to prioritize my efforts to be effective.

Q. What are your views on the use of animal products?

A. We should try to adopt a lifestyle that moves away from cruelty.

Q. Indian students very often feel overwhelmed by exams and adults are caught up in the relentless effort to obtain a living. How could they do something beyond their immediate needs to help animals and the environment?

A. I recognize people may be working under duress and they have to earn a living but I have always encouraged people to follow their heart. No matter what situation you are in you can make a difference. IT IS POSSIBLE.
Editorial

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Our world

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