KALAIGAON, (Assam) Two foreign wildlife activists of Nature & Wildlife Association (NWA) had to leave Udalguri following an exposure of their fake activities in Nagaon and Karbi Anglong districts last year, according to local media reports.
The foreigners, namely Andy Merk of Germany and Noni Montrieul alias Lailani Fouad, a French lady of NWA had arrived at Paneri IB where they were given a warm welcome by the Forest Department and local people. According to information, both came to work for mitigation of HEC (Human-Elephant Conflict) in Udalguri. They also attended an official awareness meeting at Nonai Forest Range Office on November 12.
The so-called wildlife activists had earlier worked in Nagaon and Karbi Anglong districts last year for a month in association with Green Guard, an international-level nature and wildlife group. After being aware of their presence in Udalguri, Green Guard issued a statement on November 14 this year saying that NWA had been a partner of Green Guard last year in a project called ‘Lights For Life, Food To Live’ at Chapanala in Nagaon and in villages bordering Karbi Anglong hills. Both the foreigners made various claims about their expertise and works in Thailand. The statement also said that the duo had spent three weeks in Nagaon. But to the disappointment of Green Guards, the lights and camera traps provided by them were cheap junk which actually eroded Green Guards credibility with the communities as the gadgets had stopped working within a few days.
According to Raj Phukan, CEO of Green Guard and a noted wildlife activist of Assam, when he and another wildlife activist of Nagaon, Dulu Bora visited Thailand last year, they were shocked to find that the NWA had no role in Thailand and it was a two-people organisation. Both Andy and Noni of NWA used to have photo sessions with Thai Forest rangers and posted Forest Department activities as NWA work in the Facebook.
Raj Phukan also said, “The Thailand visit confirmed my suspicion about their lack of field experience. Their primary interest is in video documentation and fund-raising. NWA has only two persons with no experience on mitigation of Human Elephant Conflict in Assam (HEC). All their claims about elephant ID were false. Their modus operandi is to strike up friendship with local NGOs, give some small equipment like lights and post these as NWA work and raise funds abroad while taking all credit, leaving local NGOs in the lurch.”
In an email message, Dr Abhijit Rabha, PCCF, Karbi Anglong confirmed the allegation against the NWA. Accordingly, the Forest Department of Udalguri evicted Andy Merk and Noni Montrieul alias Lailani Fouad from Paneri Forest IB on November 17.
[sent by Phukan B]