The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 8 , 2014
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Snub to wildlife in manifestos irks NGOs

Imphal, April 7: Failure of political parties to make the issues of wildlife protection and environment top priorities in poll manifestos has irked People for Animal, Thoubal, an NGO working for wildlife conservation in Manipur.

“Almost all election manifestos of political parties contesting the 16th parliamentary elections do not have agenda regarding direct uplift of wildlife in the state. Most of them put the agenda regarding wildlife, environment and ecology in last lines and that, too, in a few words,” Lourembam Biswajit Meetei, managing trustee of People for Animal, said.

The NGO based in Thoubal district is working for protection of wildlife. Its activities include rescuing animals and birds from poachers and creating awareness among people.

Of the manifestos released by political parties so far only the BJP has included the issue of wildlife and environment in details.

“The future of Manipur, as a human habitat and a cradle of civilisation, depends on her environment and ecology. All possible efforts should be undertaken to preserve and protect the environment and ecological balance, flora and fauna of the state,” the BJP manifesto said.

The CPI manifesto promises to protect forest and wildlife, but does not elaborate. The Congress is yet to release its manifesto.

None of the manifestos, however, mention specifically about conservation of sangai (brow-antlered deer), which is the state animal. Sangai is the most threatened deer species in the world.

The deer is surviving on the last-remaining natural habitat at Keibul Lamjao wildlife sanctuary which is floating on the Loktak lake in Bishnupur district. The last census carried out in March 2013 put the sangai population in the sanctuary at 204.

“It is quite unfortunate to find the word ‘sangai’ missing in the manifestos. It seems that the political parties or contesting candidates have forgotten that the state animal is sangai, which is the most-threatened deer species,” Meetei said. The manifestos put the issue of environment and wildlife almost at the bottom of the agenda. “These indicate their lack of interest and political willingness towards the issue. How can a people’s representative who does not care for its state animal or environment would work for the welfare of people?” Meetei asked.

He said each year more than 50,000 rare species of wildlife are killed in the state.

“In a few years, several species would be extinct from the state and it would immensely affect ecology and life-sustaining capacity of the state. We better remember that Manipur is experiencing an early and hotter summer this year and this is not a good sign,” he said.