|In Arunachal Pradesh, a tiger skin is worth 5 kg of rice
Wednesday April 21, 2010, Itanagar
have revealed that the need for a packet of salt and a small bag of
rice can fuel the killing of a tiger in the forests of Arunachal
Pradesh, bordering China.
Locals say the lack of infrastructure
in the state leads to scarcity of food, forcing poverty-hit tribals to
target wildlife and sell illegal animal products.
food to eat, villagers depend on tree barks to make 'tussey', an
indigenous porridge," said Tagru Tame of Pipsorang village in Kurung
Kumey district. "Even money cannot buy anything in the region. So, the
easiest option is to seek help from the Chinese, who look for animal
products to fuel Asian markets."
"Hundreds of endangered animals
are killed in the thick jungles just to eke out a living," said Noory
Noshi of Limeking village located 50 km from the International Line of
Control. "Poverty-stricken tribals sell the animal skin to Chinese
traders. In exchange, they get about 5 kg of rice and a kilo of salt."
the absence of patrolling, the age-old trade route is now being used
for trafficking of wildlife products. Noshi pointed out that this route
is also the entry point for illegal immigrants who slip into Arunachal
"At the border, a pack of salt and a pack of rice cost
around Rs 200 a kilo each and a packet of noodles costs Rs 300. There
are no roads, communication facilities are lacking. So, in the absence
of infrastructure, food is scarce," said Rajesh Tacho, a local MLA.
"While the Chinese highway is barely 3 km from the line of control,
mountain paths on the Indian side extend for up to 50 km, mostly
through the inaccessible jungles," said Tacho.
Investigations revealed that most of the animals killed are smuggled through Chinese villages Oganjo, Ume, Dian and Asapila.
The middlemen, who supply the contraband to markets in south east Asia, are of Tibetan origin.
of the banned wildlife products are smuggled in haversacks or home-made
cane bags. Sometimes, high altitude porters hired by local authorities
are involved in the smuggling syndicate, insiders said. At times,
Indian traffickers pose as informers and sneak into Chinese villages
under the pretext of gathering information.
authorities prefer to look the other way, a matter on which Arunachal
Pradesh's Director General of Police, Bimla Mehra, declined comment.
and killing the prey usually takes days of hard work. It involves
trudging and trekking through the dense forest which is infested with
poisonous snakes and insects.
Arunachal's Deputy Conservator of
Forests, M K Palit, admitting that killing of wildlife was rampant in
the state's forests. He attributed it mainly to the age-old tribal
traditions and excessive issue of licensed weapons to villagers.
pointed to the emerging role of traffickers in smuggling animal
products outside the country in recent months. "Earlier, it was killing
for food, but now it is also to make quick money, added Palit. "The
situation is not very alarming and the government is doing its best,"
said the forest officer.