Stop Shooting Innocent Tribespeople

Target: Dr. Satyendra Singh, Director of Kaziranga National Park

Goal: End the shoot-to-kill policy for dealing with suspected poachers.

As conservation efforts around the world try desperately to protect diminishing wildlife populations, one national park’s policy for dealing with poachers has turned deadly. To discourage killing wildlife, forest guards in India’s Kaziranga National Park are empowered to shoot people whom they suspect to be poaching. While their goal is valiant and has led to a decline in poaching, the shoot-to-kill policy has left scores of innocent people from nearby villages dead or injured, including children. The park also does not keep records of investigations following shootings, making it difficult to tell if those killed are actually poachers or just misplaced tribespeople. With the park set to expand, which will evict 200,000 people from 900 villages, the shoot-to-kill policy will only get worse and must be stopped before more innocent people lose their lives.

Kaziranga is home to two-thirds of the world’s population of one-horned rhinos, as well as the endangered Bengal tiger and a large population of elephants. The deadly policy employed by guards has been a boon for these species’ populations, but due to their legal impunity, forest guards often resort to shooting suspected poachers without taking the time for interrogation. Guards are also given bonuses for maiming or killing poachers, but these deaths are seldom investigated properly to prove identity and motive.

This shoot-first, ask-questions-never policy has led to the deaths of people like Goanburah Kealing, a young man with severe learning disabilities who strayed into the park looking for his family’s cattle. A boy, 7-year-old Akash Oram, was left unable to walk after a shot blasted away part of his right leg. Guards killed 66 people in Kaziranga between 2005 and 2012, and in 2015 more people were killed than rhinos. As Kaziranga expands, its influence in the region will only displace and anger more tribespeople, such that animosity between the two sides hurts tourism and conservation. The shoot-to-kill policy by forest guards must be revoked to ensure that the preservation of India’s wildlife does not sacrifice human rights.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Singh,

Kaziranga National Park has become internationally renowned for its conservation of India’s wildlife, attracting praise and tourism from many, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. However, in your efforts to preserve the park’s population of rhinos, tigers, elephants, and more, the shoot-to-kill policy employed by forest guards has left scores of local villagers dead or injured. While this has correlated with a decline in poaching, the slayings are unacceptable and must be stopped to preserve the human rights of tribespeople who are rapidly being alienated by Kaziranga’s efforts.

Tribespeople can serve as a powerful ally in the fight against poaching. By vesting some power in the hands of locals, they become responsible for an Indian treasure that attracts hundreds of thousands of international tourists to the region. This participation enables villagers to see the value conservation can have for them, and gives them an interest in ensuring that wildlife populations thrive to support the tourism that brings economic and social development to communities that need it.

Extra-judicial killings of suspected poachers, some of whom prove to be innocent without any due process, hurts collaboration potential with villagers who could help protect Kaziranga. I urge you to stop the deadly pursuit of suspected poachers and instead encourage villagers to be a part of the conservation process so that all may benefit from the park’s prosperity.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Lonav Bharali

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8 Comments

  1. What an insane law, this shoot-to-kill policy. The lawmakers went totally overboard in trying to protect wildlife. Have some sense about it! Anyone suspected of poaching should have the right to a proper investigation and a proper trial, not be shot on sight!
    Did they actually think the 7 year old boy they shot was a poacher?

  2. Marek Olszewski says:

    I will never sign this s*** petitions! It’s blame post something like this! Death to poachers!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I don´t want anyone to be killed, but unfortunatelly I can´t sign this. In my point of view now it is the only way to fight this problem.

    • Hiring trigger-happy forest guards to shoot anyone on sight is not the only way to fight this problem, nor is it a good way. It is an unintelligent and ineffective way, as well as deadly to innocent humans. The government should be conducting intelligent operations, and investigating not only the low-level poachers, but the traffickers and buyers. There are huge criminal syndicates involved, which should be investigated and brought down.
      Shooting suspected poachers on sight is comparable to shooting low-level Mafia operatives indiscriminately on the streets and killing innocent people, while ignoring the ones who are running the Mafia.

  4. I WANT TO SIGN THIS PETITION & I AGREE THAT POACHERS HAVE TO BE SHOT, BUT NOT INNOCENT PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT POACHERS, IT HAS TO BE MADE SURE THAT THEY ARE POACHERS & NOT CHILDREN OR INNOCENT PEOPLE GOING ABOUT THEIR LIVES IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME.

  5. Julie Bates says:

    SHOOT TO KILL THE POACHERS IS BRILLIANT….SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO GET FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULAS….WHAT MAKES MAN….HUMANS THE GODS OF THIS EARTH ….WILDLIFE MUST BE PROTECTED…..U HAVE NOOOOO IDEA THE SHIT THAT GOES ON IN INDIA…THAILAND AND THE THIRD WORLD..its greed $$$$$$ that’s the bottom line my friends

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