Union minister Maneka Gandhi today urged new Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma to end "rampant" poaching in the state, which she alleged was pushing some endangered species to the brink of extinction.
Gandhi cited the example of the Western Hoolock Gibbon species, in particular, and said they were highly endangered, due to unchecked poaching in Meghalaya.
"Meghalaya has rampant poaching. Most wild animals and birds are endangered because of unchecked poaching. You have the Western Hoolock Gibbon which is the only Great Ape in India. It is now less than 1,000 in number as they are killed and eaten or sold as pets with many taken to China," the Women and Child Development Minister said in a letter to Sangma.
Gandhi said that in the last year alone, as many as 11 Hoolock Gibbons were reportedly killed in the state, especially in the Garo Hills region.
She, however, said that for the past few years, a French national and his NGO, 'Huro Program-Meghalaya', has been working for the upkeep of the endangered ape species by setting up rescue centres in the Garo Hills.
The program is being mentored by former Union minister of state Agatha K Sangma.
Gandhi, who is a founder member of the animal protection group, People for Animals (PFA), also criticised Meghalaya's "high inactive" forest department officials and called on the state government to act tough against them.
"Where are they? Not in the forests, not in the villages. Most are either in the state capital or sitting in their own homes getting a salary," Gandhi alleged.
Stating that Meghalaya could benefit from wild life tourism, she expressed willingness to send trained NGOs to organise workshops with local rangers and forest guards in the state.
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