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Karnataka: Wildlife warden post lies vacant in 20 districts as govt sits on recommended list of names

Honorary wildlife wardens were appointed for a few districts like Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Chikkamagaluru, Bengaluru Urban, Mandya and Chitradurga in 2019 and 2020 but more than 20 districts have not had an appointment to the post for more than two years now.

Karnataka wildlife, Karnataka forest department, Karnataka forest dept vacancy, karnataka govt, karnataka news, Indian expressconservationists alleged that the appointments are made based on political clout rather than merit.

It has been five months since the Karnataka forest department proposed to the state government five names to be appointed as honorary wildlife wardens but the latter is yet to act on it even as the post lies vacant in more than 20 districts. Meanwhile, conservationists alleged that the appointments are made based on political clout rather than merit.

While honorary wildlife wardens were appointed for a few districts like Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Chikkamagaluru, Bengaluru Urban, Mandya and Chitradurga in 2019 and 2020, more than 20 districts have not had an appointment to the post for more than two years now.

RK Singh, who recently took over as the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF, head of forest force), told The Indian Express: “I will see what steps are being taken in this matter,” he said.

However, wildlife conservationists alleged that most of the recommendations are being made based on political clout rather than a detailed explanation by the deputy conservator of forest (DCF). They lament that due to the exertion of political pressure, often the senior forest officials just forward the applications to the chief wildlife warden without due diligence.

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“These appointments should be based on clear recommendations of the DCFs concerning territorial and wildlife divisions, including directors of tiger reserves. However, it appears many candidates are being nominated based on pure political recommendations and they do not even have any recommendations of DCFs/conservators of forests (CFs) of the concerned divisions/circles. If the officials do not know the work and background of the people being nominated, how can we expect their participation in wildlife conservation? Also, forwarded applications of candidates by DCFs, CFs or chief conservator of forests (CCF) to chief wildlife wardens cannot be considered as recommendations,” a conservationist said.

“Recommendations of the field officers should contain a clear opinion whether to recommend or not. In fact, it would be better if chief wildlife wardens call candidates for an interview to assess their capability and knowledge including their coordination with the forest department. It appears that for many districts, recommended candidates’ names are not known to field officers. Then on what criteria such recommendations are being made. This is not a good development and will be strongly opposed,” he added.

A senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer in Karnataka did not deny the allegations of appointments through political pressure. “Honorary wildlife wardens can assist the field officers in conservation. But now we see that undesirable and uneducated people who have no idea of conservation are being appointed through political clouts. They do more harm than good which is why some of us have reservations over these appointments,” he added.

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Responding to the criticisms, former PCCF Sanjai Mohan had earlier said: “We usually want the appointments of people who have a genuine interest in wildlife and conservation and the list is accordingly. There have been incidents of political appointees.”

Honorary wildlife wardens are appointed as per the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Their main duty is to assist the state in wildlife conservation concerning the control of poaching and the clandestine trade of wild animals and products.

First published on: 19-04-2022 at 02:24:01 pm
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