Wildlife trafficking is a critical issue that affects many regions around the world, including Northeast India and West Bengal. On 15th February 2023, the Counter Wildlife Trafficking program of the Wildlife Conservation Society-India organized a one-day journalism meet in Guwahati, Assam, to discuss the status of wildlife trafficking in the region. The meeting brought together 32 media persons and journalists from various Northeast states of India and West Bengal, including Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha.
Overview of the Counter Wildlife Trafficking program
The meeting aimed to highlight the challenges of illegal wildlife trade and hunting in Northeast India and West Bengal. The discussions were led by moderators, including Krishnendu Mukherjee from Times of India, Mayank Aggarwal, an independent journalist, and Ananda Banerjee, a senior independent journalist. They shared their perspectives on the current status of illegal wildlife trade, including Indian and exotic species, the supply routes, and the trade markets of these species.
Keynote address by Uttara Mendiratta
Uttara Mendiratta, Program Head of the Counter Wildlife Trafficking program, emphasized the importance of journalists in garnering public opinion and influencing political will to address the complex issue of illegal wildlife hunting and trade. She added that journalists play a crucial role in raising awareness about the issue and shaping public opinion, which can lead to a positive impact on policy and decision-making.
Interactive sessions on responsible reporting and reporting on illegal wildlife trade
The meeting also included interactive sessions led by Bano Haralu on the role of journalists in responsible reporting and by Krishnendu Mukherjee on learnings and challenges in reporting on illegal wildlife trade in India. The sessions highlighted the importance of responsible reporting and the need for journalists to provide accurate and reliable information on wildlife trafficking. This information can help create public awareness, which is crucial in addressing the issue and shaping public opinion.
During the meeting, a film by WCS India titled “Surviving the Odds” was screened, which shed light on the issue of illegal wildlife trade in India. The film showcased the efforts of the Counter Wildlife Trafficking program in tackling the issue of wildlife trafficking, highlighting the work done by the organization to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked animals and prosecute the offenders.
The workshop ended with reflections and discussions on the current and emerging trends on wildlife trade, human-wildlife interactions, and ceremonial hunting practices in Northeast India and West Bengal. The discussions emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of illegal wildlife trade and hunting through a collaborative effort that involves various stakeholders, including the government, civil society organizations, and local communities.
Collaborative efforts needed to protect unique and diverse wildlife in the region
Wildlife trafficking is a significant issue in Northeast India and West Bengal, where many species are at risk of extinction due to poaching and habitat destruction. The wildlife of the region is unique and diverse, and it is essential to protect it for the benefit of the ecosystem and the people living in the region. The Counter Wildlife Trafficking program of the Wildlife Conservation Society-India is doing commendable work in addressing the issue of wildlife trafficking, and the meeting was a step towards creating greater awareness about the issue.
In conclusion, the journalism meet organized by the Counter Wildlife Trafficking program of the Wildlife Conservation Society-India was a significant step towards creating awareness about the issue of wildlife trafficking in Northeast India and West Bengal. The meeting highlighted the challenges of illegal wildlife trade and hunting in the region and emphasized the importance of responsible reporting and public awareness in addressing the issue. It is hoped that the meeting will lead to a greater understanding of the issue and encourage more collaborative efforts to tackle the issue of wildlife trafficking.