By the time poachers and smugglers are caught, the damage is usually already done

The poaching and trafficking of wildlife in the Sundarbans has risen so significantly in recent times that a red alert had to be issued.

Animal populations, such as those of deer and the endangered Bengal Tigers, in the mangrove forests are not only vulnerable to habitat destruction, but also poaching and subsequent trafficking at the hands of poachers and smugglers. The recent arrests of 14 poachers is what eventually brought on the red alert in the area, but the question that remains is whether or not this is enough in the face of the great damage continually being done.

Of course, catching existing poachers and holding them accountable for illegal poaching remains a priority. To that end, the Forest Department has already intensified patrols inside the forest and instated temporary bans on the movement of small dinghy boats.

However, this is still a punitive measure that only tackles one side of the problem, and faces the risk of doing too little too late. By the time poachers and smugglers are caught, the damage is usually already done.

As such, a more holistic process involving not only punitive measures but also preventive ones must be undertaken. This might include a greater focus on the conservation of the forest’s biodiversity, eco-system, and wildlife. This will not only root out the illegal activities already taking place but also possibly prevent future ones.

It is high time we take stronger measures to tackle poaching and prevent the loss of wildlife. We can no longer afford to be half-hearted in our efforts.

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