ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE IN INDIA
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India is the home to some of the most fascinating animals on the planet. But now it has become a major market source for illegal wildlife trade. The black market for illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. India apprizes itself in its bio diversity and the natural wealth. The variety of fauna and flora in India is multifarious and invaluable.
India has a strong scheme and legal order to regulate and restrict wildlife trade. It is a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora since the 1970s.With strict legal statutes in place and laws such as Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Indian Penal Code and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, there are many species, which have become extinct due to prohibited activities.
Regardless of these laws manifesting penal punishments, illegal wildlife trading continues. The wildlife trade includes primates, ivory from elephants, orchids, and lives birds, skin of reptile, butterflies, animal furs, and tropical fish. Likewise, poaching is one of the roughest facets of wildlife trade, which is actively being practiced in India.
While there are many individuals, organizations and Government bodies, that have been struggling to save its natural wealth and trying to save the wildlife, there are statistics to show wildlife depletion. If the illegal wildlife trading continues, it will negatively impact the biodiversity, leading to unbalanced food chain and ecosystems, which is dangerous to life.
There has been a 95% decline in tiger population since the 19th century. Tigers are executed for their bones and skin. In1973 the World Wide Fund for Nature launched the Project Tiger, the most important initiative for conservation of tigers. In 1997 they set up the Tiger Conservation Program to support conservation of tiger activities in India and other Asian countries.
More than 200 species of birds are found in India and traded for different purposes such as petting, food, zoo and medicine. More than thousands of birds are caged for trade due to which many of the birds die during capture or during transportation. After the ban on the trade of birds has been imposed, thousands of birds, which are captured, if found are released every year.
Rhinosaurus is now on the list of endangered species due to the trade of rhino horn. The horn fetches about 2-3 lakhs rupees in India and even more in the international market. Rhinos meat and bones are used for medicinal purposes in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 has given power to the central and state governments to announce any area a wildlife sanctuary, national park or closed area. There is a complete ban to carry out any activity inside these protected areas. The authorities under this Act are empowered to supervise the hunting of wild animals, limit trade or commerce in wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and closed areas.
The term trophy can be interpreted as the whole or any part of any caged animal or wild animal, which has been preserved by any method, whether natural or unnatural. These trophies can include rugs, skins, and snippet of such animals, which are displayed in whole or in part through the technique of taxidermy such as antler horn, rhinoceros horn, feather, musk, eggs, and nests. Section 39 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, states that every wild animal other than vermin, which is hunted or kept or raised in captivity or found dead, shall be the property of the State Government. Also, any articles produced by wild animals, trophy of wild animal, meat of any wild animals, ivory that is imported to India, any article made from such ivory, vehicles used to trap animals or tools that have been used for committing any of such offence and has been seized shall be the property of the state government. If any of the above products are found in a sanctuary or a National Park, which is declared by the Central Government shall be the property of the Central Government.
The International Union for Conservation of Natureis an international organization, which is dedicated to finding solutions to environment problems and develop challenges for betterment of society. This organization publishes a Red List of Threatened Species, which requires the status of conservative species.It works for the preservation of endangered species of plants and animals. IUCN is also knownas the World Conservation Union and it works to provide information about the distribution and status of conservative and threatened species. It also aims at developing awareness about the importance of biodiversity and provides a guideline for their conservation programmes.
Such organizations should work in collaboration with the local populations rather than against them to improve and implement laws effectively.The working principle of IUCN is that it prefers to work with the local population in order to get best results.The IUCN had stated its vision in its 2013-2016 program that is "a just world that values and conserves nature". The mission of IUCN is to influence, encourage and assist societies across the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is just and ecologically sustainable.
Other measures for Wildlife conservation programmes for endangered species and for prevention of illegal trade practices are reflected in the Forest conservation act 1980 - India is one of the few countries in the world which has a Forest Act since 1927 but this act was again formulated in 1980 and then later amended in 1988. This Act gave the government and the forest department,power to create and then manage the reserved forests, protected forests and village forests, to protect non-government forests and forest land,to control movement of forest produce and to control and regulate cattle grazing.
Additionally, in the year 1952, India formulated its first forest policy, which gave more importance to revenue generation rather than sustainability of forests and its natural functions. This new forest policy emphasizes conservation of forests as a natural heritage and ensures environmental stability and maintenance of balance in the biodiversity, which also includes atmospheric equilibrium.
Author: Sakshi Srivastava
College: Galgotias School of Law
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