Killing for Conservation Our World

Killing for Conservation

India is that rare thing in animal conservation: a success story. Nowhere exemplifies that success more than Kaziranga National Park. But for many, the gains have come at a cost.

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Rhinos are one of the world's most endangered species. But how far


should we go to protect them? We are inside India's greatest national


park. We are going to discover its dark secret. When we see any people


at night-time, we ordered to question them. Authorities are


evicting villagers. There is no jury, no judge, no questioning. It


is alleged that there has been killing, maiming and torture. There


is no question that rhinos should be protected, but at what cost? This is


the inside story of the Indian National Park, and those killed in


the name of conservation. This is one of the greatest wildlife


reserves on earth. The home to two thirds of the world's population of


Indian rhinos. Have a look at this. What a magnificent animal. They


looked just incredible, don't they? They look like tanks with those


great folds of grey skin like armour plating. But actually, they are much


more vulnerable than they look. The park is a huge attraction for


tourists and wildlife enthusiast. David Attenborough's team came here


for a documentary. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited last


year on their first tour of India. This is an incredible story of


conservation success. There were only a handful of rhinos left when


the park was set up a century ago. Now, there are more than 2400. But


Kaziranga's success has a dark side. This is the story they don't tell


you on the glossy wildlife documentaries, and tourists like


William and Kate never hear about. So, what is Kaziranga's untold


secret? Tourists have gone, the park is closed and I have been invited on


a night patrol. Walk in the forest in the dark is a dangerous business.


What are you looking for? Some animals might be sitting here, they


might attack us. There is a rhino just next to a! Here's looking at


us. The park is huge, more than 400 kilometres square, and there are


around 1200 park gods. It looks like this fellow had been in a scrap with


another rhino. Luckily, he was in no mood to charge us. -- guard. The


cards are here to protect him from the most vicious predator there is,


man. -- guards. And for that, they have been given extraordinary


powers. When you see poachers or hunters, you start hunting them.


Issued them? Yes. And you have orders to do that? Yes. We are


allowed to shoot them, whenever you see there are poachers or people


doing night things, we are ordered to shoot them. This man has shot


suspected poachers twice in his four years as a guard, but has never


killed anyone. He knows there are unlikely to be any consequences if


he did. Lawyers say the power and he has a similar to those given to


armed forces policing armrest. We used to sit here all night. --


unrest. The park says these powers are essential to fight poaching. But


the discretion to shoot and kill is a huge responsibility that could so


easily be abused. When I meet the director of the park, he gives me


the official line on what critics call the park's shoot on sight


policy. Is, we have to question who they are, to certify them. Then we


can shoot them. First we must understand who they are. Who the


others are in the game -- first. -- gang. How many people have been


killed in the last five years? I have the figures of how many


poachers have been killed. 2000- 2014, 22 poachers were killed. 50


people killed in the last three years, that is quite a lot? These


are the people doing the poaching. Thinking about the price of rider of


porn... We have a lot of problems. Around 300 plus suspected poachers


live here. Kaziranga is the only park in India which uses these


powers. But there are plans to roll them out elsewhere. That was really


interesting. What surprises me is just how many people have been


killed in the park. 50 people in the last three years. That seems like a


lot of people. In the communities around the park, the rising death


toll has become a major issue. Kaziranga is, like the rest of


India, densely populated. This is one of many tribal communities that


have lived in all close to the forest for centuries. They say


increasing numbers of innocent villagers are being shot -- or. Look


at this, this is the village road. Just over here is the national park


full of all those wild animals. There are no fences, no signs, and


if I was to step across and into it, there is a real danger that I could


be shot. These parents believe their son mistakenly crossed into the park


in 2013. He had been looking after the family's two towers. His father


believed that cows straight into the park, and his son, who had severe


learning difficulties, went in to try and find them.


TRANSLATION: My son was shot in the chest by park Rangers. They also


slashed his arm. I don't know whether they used an axle something


else. Kaziranga told the BBC that guards shot the man when he did not


respond to a warning. He could barely do up his own trousers or his


shoes. Everyone in the area knew him because he was so disabled. I have


not filed a court case. I am a poor man. I can't afford to take them on.


I don't know anything about how the law works. What can I do? The park


is under huge pressure to crack down on poaching. With 170,000 visitors,


Kaziranga is by far the biggest tourist attraction in this province.


These economic benefits make poaching a major political issue. In


2013, when the number of rhinos killed doubled to 27, politicians


demanded action. The head of the park was happy to oblige. Delicious,


authentic cooking. I have just been reading a report Britain by the


former director of the park. It talks about his philosophy and how


the park should be run. He says any suspect must obey all be killed, he


says there must be no unauthorised entry whatsoever. Killed the


unwonted, he says. There is a section where he talks about the


justice system. He says environmental crimes, including


poaching, are far more serious than murder. The then Chief put his


uncompromising dock in into practice. The number of people


killed started to wires. 22 in 2014, 23 the following year. -- doctrine.


At the park battled against poaching with intensity, there were further


casualties. A deep rushes into the local hospital. Inside is a badly


boy. This seven-year-old has been shot in the leg.


I am going to die, he cries. Don't worry, you will not die, it is


mother says. TRANSLATION: I was just coming back


from the shop. The forest guards were shouting Rhinoceros,


Rhinoceros. Then they suddenly shot me. The path to the shop runs


alongside the national park. TRANSLATION: One got to him, he was


crying. I rush to him. He was lying in a pool of blood. What is the


condition of the wound now? TRANSLATION: They grafted into here,


that has not worked well. Just look at it. He has changed. He is to be


cheerful, but he is not any more. He wakes up in pain in the night and


cries for his mother. Six months on, and Akash Orang can still barely


walk. Now his brother has to carry him to school. The park says it was


a terrible mistake. It paid Akash Orang's medical expenses and $3000


compensation. There was a huge outcry. Hundreds protested that the


park does not do enough to control the guards. They say the deaths are


often not investigated and victims are not identified. When people come


in, the national park claims they are poachers, so they wash their


hands on the DAX. They never looked back into it. This policy is


dangerous, because it is creating an animosity. -- wash their hands of


it. These guards are preparing an ambush in the park. They said it was


too dangerous for us to join them. Lee Park explains the high death


toll, said the poachers die in shootouts with guards. Firm figures


are hard to come by, but according to the reports we can find, just one


part guard has been killed by poachers in the last 20 years. This


compared to the 106 people shot dead by guards over the same period. The


park is being run with utmost brutality. Deezar "extrajudicial"


executions. -- these are. People are being killed in these encounters,


with no judge or jury. These are not just poachers, but also local,


tribal people, and the terrifying thing is that there are plans to


roll out this shoot on sight policy across the whole of India. Three


months on, and local people are protesting outside the park


headquarters, yet again. This time, the allegation is torture. They


bring the victim in a push cart. The victim was picked up in the park by


guards and accused of smuggling boards for a poaching gang. He says


the questioning was aggressive. Very aggressive. And with your hands tied


here, and your legs tied here? TRANSLATION: They gave me an


electric shock here on my knees and here on my elbows. And here on my


groin, too. They kept on hitting me. I was tied up, so every time they


hit me, I fell over. The officers are said people in torturing him. --


the officer said. Then he will speak the truth. I kept on telling them


that I was not a poacher, so they kept hitting me. He says that the


ordeal lasted for three hours, until finally his interrogators became


convinced they have the wrong man. Park officials called his village


head man to pick him up. TRANSLATION: What the park it was


unacceptable. They had no evidence he was a poacher. How can they


justify torture? If they discover that he is involved in poaching, we


would bring into the park. -- if we discovered. But what they did was


outrageous. Kaziranga National Park says it did bring the man in for


questioning, but categorically denies any harm came to him, adding


it never uses a electric shock during interrogation. But again,


local people are saying it is evidence their rights are being


trampled by the park and say activists, some of the world's


biggest wildlife charities, are turning a blind eye. For example,


doubly WF describes itself as a close partner of the Assam Forest


Department. They are - they have been providing equipment and Sun


City Forest Department, and survivors have repeatedly asked them


to speak out against the shoot on sight policy, which they have so far


failed to do. -- Assam Forest Department. Instead, they have


funded ambush training for Ghaz, and provided extra equipment, including


nightvision goggles. But what would you use nightvision goggles for in


anti-poaching? To monitor what is happening. And also to monitor if


there is any people moving deep inside the park. It is quite likely


those goggles have been used to target people who have subsequently


been killed. I wonder how WWF feels about providing equipment to a park


killing that many people. We have not come across any evidence that


they have been used for spotting people. Would they report that two?


The thing is, it nobody is comfortable with killing people.


What is needed is ongoing protection. The poaching has to


stop. The illegal trade has to stop? Yet, it needs to stop. But shouldn't


WWF speak out? Because obviously this is funded by individual


donation. What you think of donors would feel about WWF's involvement


with a park which is involved with killing dozens and dozens of people,


maiming people, and other allegations of torturing people? As


they say, we are working towards it. We want the poaching to stop. The


idea is to reduce it. It is not just Kaziranga, but also the enforcement


agencies. I think the main thing is to work with them. And the bad news


is it is not just the anti-poaching asset that threatens local people.


You can see tigers in Kaziranga, but they are extremely elusive. We


travelled to Rajasthan. They think they have seen a tiger down by the


lake, here. We are going to try and find it, now. Hold on tight! Go, go,


go! . ! That is a brilliant site. A


brilliant view of a tiger. You can still see it. God, that was


amazing. What a majestic animal. And it is utterly unconcerned about us.


100 years ago, there were about 100,000 tigers in the world. Now,


there are less than 4000. But the good news is, numbers are rising.


And success has brought new challenges. Big wild animals like


tigers and rhinos need lots of space. To accommodate them, India is


planning a massive expansion of its network of national parks. It is


great news for conservation, but the plans involve more than 200,000


people being moved from their homes. And once again, Kaziranga is on the


frontline. The park wants to double in size, and an eviction order has


been issued. The problem is, the villagers do not want to move. The


first elections happened in September. The police move in to


clear the crowd. Seems like this could be repeated across India as


part attempt to follow Kaziranga's example and expand. The crowd starts


throwing stones. The police response first with teargas, then with live


rounds. Two people were killed. TRANSLATION: I have no one. My


husband was the only person I had. I wanted to take his body, but they


beat me up, and would not allow me to take his body, so I had to leave


it. Then they brought in diggers to destroy buildings. And the national


park provided a team of elephants that slowly and deliberately went


through the village, knocking down every home. This is all that is


left. India's wildlife reserves are sanctuary is for its most revered


species. -- -- sanctuaries. But it is in danger


of testing the fate of local communities. We requested interviews


from India's Environment Minister, the Minister of the environment for


Assam, the head of the body that runs India's national parks, the


chief Forest Officer from Sam, and for another interview with the head


of Kaziranga. None were available to speak to us. -- Killing for


Conservation. We have heard how important it is to work with local


communities. -- had of the Forest office in Assam. Of course,


endangers Delic Endangered Species need conserving, but is Kaziranga's


approach to conservation putting it above a welfare of the people that


we have told our best placed to protect it.