An IPS Officer Who’s Been Protecting Wildlife For 16 Years
- Bhakti Kothari
- Published on 3 Mar 2022, 8:56 am IST
- 4 minutes read
- Indian Masterminds' special feature on World Wildlife Day 2022 on IPS officer Aravind Chaturvedi who's been conserving wildlife for 16 years now.
- His special focus is the protection and conservation of tigers and turtles that are smuggled illegally across borders.
- Currently posted as Superintendent of Police, Vigilance, Lucknow, he also rehabilitates poachers and smugglers of wildlife and helps them to live a life of dignity.
On World Wildlife Day 2022, Indian Masterminds brings to you the inspiring story of an IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh, who is actively working in the field of wildlife conservation for 16 years now. He is Mr. Aravind Chaturvedi, and he is currently posted as the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance, in Lucknow. In an exclusive conversation with us on the occasion of Wildlife Day, he talked about ‘why’ and ‘how’ he has been engaged in conserving wildlife, especially tigers and turtles.
The Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh Police is a dedicated unit to combat organized crimes. It had assigned a special team to handle wildlife crimes in the state and nearby areas. Mr. Aravind Chaturvedi was given the responsibility to lead this team.
With the abundance of forest cover in the Tarai belt of Uttar Pradesh, adjoining boundaries with Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, and the porous international border with Nepal have been instrumental for the thriving of poaching and smuggling of wildlife contrabands in this area.
“The situation was further complicated by the existence of infamous traders in wildlife contrabands, especially bones and skins of tiger and leopard,who had expertise in traditional tannery business in Kanpur, Fatehpur and Allahabad,” Mr. Chaturvedi said.
In his 16 years of service towards wildlife, the IPS officer has caught innumerable poachers and smugglers, trying to smuggle carcasses of these precious animals across countries.
North India is the largest region in the world that trades in turtles illegally across borders, with its main hub lying in several cities of Uttar Pradesh. Turtle poaching is done for its soft meat, and it is also smuggled to other countries to be kept as pets, both of which are against the law.
In order to protect the turtles, Mr. Chaturvedi is closely associated with a US-based NGO called Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) that focuses solely on the protection and conservation of hard and soft shelled turtles.
“As a result of continuous analysis of digital and ground data of poachers, middlemen, carriers and traders, my team is able to bust and recover huge number of live turtles, being smuggled outside countries in huge trucks.”
The officer has unearthed illegal turtle trade networks and different gangs’ international connections in close coordination with the TSA. He was also conferred Turtle Conservation Service Award by Turtle Survival Alliance during the National Strategic Planning Meeting hosted by TSA in association with MoEF& CC and National Mission for Clean Ganga.
“There are three prevailing concepts for protection of wildlife – preservation, conservation, and prevention of attacks on them,” Mr. Chaturvedi said.
The officer focused on rehabilitating and raising awareness amongst villagers involved in poaching and smuggling of animals like lions, tigers, leopards, pangolins, snakes, etc. He understood that half his problems would vanish if he could convince and motivate these poachers to move towards a better livelihood option.
“For a law enforcer such as myself, every person or community involved in such trade is a criminal. But if we take a closer look at these communities with respect to their social and geographical positioning, we realise that their activities are not governed by the law but by their own situations, skills, and traditions. Therefore, our wildlife preservation initiatives should be targeted towards such communities to bring about skill development, literacy promotion, community welfare programmes and financial support.”
The officer soon involved them in respectable jobs such as peons, sweepers, guards, poultry farmers, etc., which not only increased their monthly earnings but also enabled them to live a life of dignity.
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