The significance of the Centre’s historic advice on exotic animals

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Exotic living species are animal or plant species moved from their original range (location) to a new one. These species are introduced to a new location most often by humans. Experts hailed the Centre’s decision, saying it would create a process in which all imports would be vetted

As the COVID outbreak has raised concerns around the world about illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change issued a notice in June 2020 to streamline the process of importing and possessing alien living species.

The ministry said people importing “live alien species” will be required to make a voluntary disclosure.

With the Supreme Court recently upholding the opinion, let’s take a look at it, its implications and significance, animal smuggling in India, and what the experts are saying:

What are alien living species?

According to the ministry, alien living species are animal or plant species moved from their original range (location) to a new one.

These species are introduced to a new location most often by humans.

According The Hindu, several exotic species of birds, reptiles, small mammals, fish and even certain plants are imported.

The ministry defined “alien living species” as only “animals named in Appendices I, II and III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)”. (CITES Appendix I no trade takes place, Appendix II trade can take place with prior permission and in Appendix III there are a large number of animals and birds that can be traded .)

Why did the ministry take such a step?

Because many people in India have Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) but there is no unified information system available about this species stock at state level or centrally.

What does the review say?

  • The Ministry of Environment will collect stock information from holders of these species through voluntary disclosure over the next six months.
  • He added that registration will be for animal stock, new offspring, as well as import and trade.
  • This will aid in better management of the species and guide keepers on proper veterinary care, housing, and other aspects of the welfare of the species.
  • The Exotic Animals Database will also assist in the control and management of zoonotic diseases on which guidance would be available from time to time to ensure the safety of animals and humans.
  • The ministry said the notifier would not be required to produce documentation regarding the living alien species if it was declared within six months of the date the notice was issued.
  • For any declaration made after six months, the declarant is required to comply with the documentation obligation provided for by the laws and regulations in force.
  • Holders of these species should visit the website (www.parivesh.nic.in) and complete the required forms in order to complete the stock registration process.
  • Any person attempting to import a live exotic animal must submit an application for the granting of a license to the General Directorate of Foreign Trade (DGFT), under the provisions of the notice, in accordance with Overview of India.

The importer will also need to attach to the application a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Chief Wildlife Warden of the relevant state, as per the website.

Implications and importance of counseling

The notice, which later extended the date of the voluntary disclosure program to March 15, 2021, saw more than 30,000 Indians apply for the amnesty program, according to a report by IndiaSpending.

According Overview of Indiathe advice will aid in better management of the species and guide keepers on proper veterinary care, housing, and other aspects of the species’ welfare.

The exotic animal database will also assist in the control and management of zoonotic diseases on which advice would be available from time to time to ensure the safety of animals and humans, according to the website.

Experts talk to The Hindu welcomed the move, saying it would create a process in which all imports would be vetted.

Imports are currently being made through the director general of foreign trade and state forestry departments are left behind, they told the newspaper.

“This decision is going to be a handicap in the wildlife trade. Alien species are a major issue for us due to invasive species and possible ecological imbalance if released into the wild,” said Jose Louise, who leads the Wildlife Crime Prevention Unit for Wildlife. Trust of India. The Hindu.

“This is the first time that animals listed on the CITES appendix will be examined by the State Forest Department. Previously, it was limited to customs officers to check whether the animal is imported in accordance with CITES rules. For animals listed in Appendix III of CITES, the department plays no role once they have passed the customs point,” added Louise.

“This is the first step in bringing the illegal pet trade under control,” he said, adding that until now forestry officials have had no control over pet stores because owners claim that they are not Indian species and are therefore not protected by the Wildlife Protection Act.

According Looking at India, this decision will help improve the management of the species and offer advice to keepers regarding appropriate veterinary care, housing and other aspects of the species’ welfare.

The Exotic Animals Database will also assist in the control and management of zoonotic diseases on which guidance would be available from time to time to ensure the safety of animals and humans.

Animal trafficking in India

However, according to mongabaywildlife trafficking in India persists despite these efforts.

According Hindustan time, in June, three kangaroos were rescued from two different locations in Jalpaiguri district, North Bengal. Authorities are investigating how the animals were brought into the country.

Representative image. AFP

India’s membership of CITES and its strict laws (Wildlife Protection Act, 1972) – prohibiting trade in over 1,800 species of plants, animals and their native products – are ineffective in combating the wildlife trafficking as these laws/advice are often poorly communicated and enforced, according to the website.

Wildlife experts tell the website that India needs tougher laws to crack down on alien species being smuggled into the country, which is a huge loophole exploited by smugglers to fuel the exotic animal trade. .

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), wildlife trafficking is the fourth form of transnational organized crime (after drug smuggling, human trafficking and counterfeiting) worth an estimated $15 billion. pounds per year.

Despite being part of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), India is currently among the top 20 countries for wildlife trafficking and among the top 10 leaders in wildlife trafficking by air.

According Indian Expressthe United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) says that elephant tusks, pangolin scales, tiger skins and parts of Indian star tortoises are just some of the parts of wild animals that have been confiscated from Indian airports as part of a growing trend of exploiting airports for the trafficking of illegal wildlife. .

The World Wildlife Report 2020 revealed that 6,000 different species of flora and fauna were seized between 1999 and 2018.

Suspected traffickers from around the world have been identified, illustrating that wildlife crime is a global problem.

The latest report from UNEP partner TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring agency, found that more than 70,000 native and exotic animals and their derivatives were trafficked through 18 Indian airports between 2011 and 2020.

“India is among the top ten countries in terms of using the air sector for wildlife trafficking,” said Atul Bagai, UNEP’s India director. “It’s an unwanted distinction.”

With contributions from agencies

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