In brief: Most Trafficked Species
In brief: Most Trafficked Species
- More than 6,000 turtles and tortoises are smuggled every year through Malaysia, India, or Bangladesh.
- Indian Star tortoise
- Most trafficked tortoise
- High demand as exotic pet
- Found in abundance in scrub jungles across the southern peninsula
- Smuggled from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka to Southeast Asia via Chennai
- Covered under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act
- Red-eared slider
- Semi-aquatic turtle smuggled into India from China and Thailand.
- A popular pet that is kept for ‘luck and prosperity’
- Not covered under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 or the CITES convention
- The Indian Pangolin
- One of the most trafficked animals in the world, with about 10,000 pangolins traded every year
- Endangered species under IUCN Red list
- Hunted for their meat and scales used in traditional oriental medicine
- According to a report by TRAFFIC, about 5,772 pangolins were captured in India from 2009 to 2017 for illegal trade
- Kolkata and Chennai serve as the main export hubs
- The Patagonian seahorse
- Trafficked for its use in medicine
- Vulnerable under IUCN Red list
- African horned pit viper
- Near threatened under IUCN Red list
- Exotic Birds
- Macaws, cockatiels, Amazon parrots, conures and cockatoos are some of the exotic birds
- They are in demand as pets.
Why Chennai has emerged as the hub of illegal wildlife trade?
- Transit hub
- Connectivity to Southeast Asian countries and cheap airfare makes it an attractive transit point for wildlife traffickers.
- Network in the city
- Students who are lured for quick money serve as couriers.
- High Demand
- High demand for these species within the country for a range of factors, including use in medicine, prized collections, possession as exotic pets, growing demand for animal trophies in India etc.
- Loopholes in the law
- Many species such as the pit viper are not covered under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, or CITES.
- Weak enforcement
- Biggest challenge is the implementation of laws due to the shortage of staff.
In Brief: Steps to curb wildlife trade
- Section 2(37) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, defines ‘wildlife’ to include any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat.
- Wildlife crime can be defined as taking possession, trade or movement, processing, consumption of wild animals and plants or their derivatives in contravention of any international, regional, or national legislation.
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has included wildlife crimes in the list of Transnational Organized Crimes (TOC).
- Two major wildlife crimes include
- Hunting & poaching
- Illegal trade
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora)
- India is a signatory to CITES which regulates international commercial wildlife trade.
- CITES is a voluntary international agreement adopted in 1973.
- It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
- It seeks to ban trade in endangered species and to regulate trade of other commercially exploited species.
- Appendix 1 lists species of animals that are critically endangered or threatened with extinction whose trade is prohibited under CITES.
Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972
- In India, The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, is the umbrella legislation for wildlife crime enforcement.
- Important provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 dealing with wildlife crimes include
- Chapter VI A – Illegal Trade
- Section 51 – Punishments for certain offences
- Section 39 – Wildlife is government property
- Trade in over 1800 species of wild animals, plants and their derivative is prohibited under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- TRAFFIC is an international NGO working on trade in wildlife.
- TRAFFIC is wildlife trade monitoring network and a joint programme of WWF and IUCN.
- It works closely with the governments to help study, monitor and influence action to curb illegal wildlife trade.
- In 2014 it launched the Wildlife Crime Initiative along with WWF, to tackle the global poaching crisis.