24 May 2023 Papikonda National Park, India, Indian Sub-continent Communities | Forests | Mammals | Trade
Assessing the Impacts of Hunting and Illegal Trade on Wildlife in the Northern Eastern Ghats, India Focusing on the Indian Pangolin
Hunting and illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is pushing many endangered species to extinction, facilitating the spread of zoonoses, funding crime, and undermining livelihoods. The Indian pangolin in particular has witnessed a rapid decline and is currently Endangered. Hunting and IWT spiked during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020-2021, particularly in the largely unprotected Eastern Ghats (Aditya et al. 2021). There is evidence that the loss of livelihoods among forest-dwelling communities aggravated by COVID-19 is continuing to drive additional hunting and wildlife trade in the Northern Eastern Ghats.
Villagers interviewed in the NEG reported that COVID-19 and long-term changes in the landscape have negatively affected their livelihoods and have forced people to depend on MGNREGS or seasonal wage labor employment. We aim to study the scale and impact of hunting and IWT in the Northern Eastern Ghats, build the capacities of all stakeholders involved, and engage with local communities to mitigate hunting. Our project will quantify the intensity of hunting in the NEG in terms of offtake that will be useful for agencies like the state Forest Department, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), and trade monitors to enhance management and make locally informed decisions to mitigate IWT. We also intend to radio-tag wild-caught pangolins and monitor their activity patterns post-release, to obtain hitherto unknown information on their ecology and habitat preferences.