An adult rhinoceros in Africa, during his late night walk, falls in a dug pit lined with spikes to die a slow and painful death. Another rhino in India touches a cable wire that sends 11Kwatt jolt through its massive body, electrocuting it. Their horns are pulled out. Price of each horn being: US$450,000. Deep inside a tiger sanctuary, a carcass is laced with deadly poison as bait for the unsuspecting tiger. The tiger eats the dead meat only to die a horrific death. Price: On request A¢”â‚¬ because every little body part of tiger is shamefully high to quote. An unsuspecting Slow Loris is trapped. Its canine teeth are brutally extracted using pliers, without any anesthetic, to prevent it from biting. It is joined by hundreds of others as a major consignment. It endures this painful hell and infection only to be sold for $.4, 500 Pregnant mothers are killed to get the unborn fetal lamb. The fetal pelt is made into exquisite fur. A coat made of broadtail fur of 30 fetal lambs fetch anywhere between $13,000 A¢”â‚¬ $25,000. (Source: https://treesouls.com/wildlife-conservation/illegal-wildlife-trade-in-india-the-blackmarket- of-life/) The instances of this gory trade are varied many and more horrific than the other. Trade in wildlife has reached unprecedented levels. From small time poaching and hunting, it has grown into a well-organized, sophisticated network across the world, which carry out a trade ring worth an estimated 6 to 20 billion dollars worldwide (MoEF, 1994), second to narcotics trade in magnitude. The global wildlife trade includes primates, ivory from African elephants, orchids, live birds, reptile skins, butterflies, animal furs, and tropical fish.
China has always been the biggest consumer of the wildlife produce, placing itself on the first spot. This comes as no surprise as traditional Chinese medicine comprises of the natural flora and fauna in its various forms. USA accounts for an estimated 70% of the world’s illegal wildlife trade. USA is the emerging biggest consumer and grandest market for illegal wildlife trade. The west European countries and Far East form the third largest chunk of buyers while Africa, central Asia and the Caribbean are emerging as the largest sellers of illegal wildlife products. India, home to many species like tiger, elephant, rhino, snow leopard, and musk deer, which are highly valued in this trade, has consequently become a target for poaching and export of wildlife products. Wildlife Trafficking and Trade in India India prizes itself in its natural wealth and bio diversity. The number of plants and animal species contained in our national boundary are innumerable and priceless. Boasting of varied climes, abundant and exquisite flora and fauna makes India an ideal destination for nature lovers, tourism and now – the illegal traders of wildlife. India is one of the leading suppliers of the most coveted wildlife products like Tigers, rhinos, birds, plants. India is strategically placed between the supplying and buying countries. It has the twin advantage of abetting this trade – and it does it pretty well. Many countries import many wildlife and its products from India. This has made many species to fall in the categories of vulnerable or endangered species and even go extinct. Man is not sparing any species starting from deer to tigers to owls. Illegal wildlife trading is as frequent as man’s greed in India.
India’s Stance on Wildlife Trade and Illegal Trafficking India has always been struggling to save it natural wealth. There are many individuals, organizations and Government bodies that realize and champion the cause of the wildlife. Efforts have been on since many decades to eradicate and contain the illegal trade menace. Some noteworthy causes are:
WWF was formed on April 29, 1961, and its first office was opened at IUCN’s headquarters in Morges, Switzerland. H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands became the organization’s first president. WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by 5 million members globally. Using the best available scientific knowledge and advancing that knowledge, they work to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth and the health of ecological systems by I. protecting natural areas and wild populations of plants and animals, including endangered species; II. Promoting sustainable approaches to the use of renewable natural resources. (Source: https://www.worldwildlife.org/who/History/index.html)
It was passed under article 252of the Constitution at the request of 11 states was intended to provide a comprehensive national legal framework for wildlife protection. The Act adopts a two pronged conservation strategy:
I. Specified endangered species are protected regardless of location, and II. All species are protected in specified areas. Under Amendment 42nd, 1976, Article 48-A was introduced: “The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.” Similarly, Article 51-A imposes fundamental duty as under: “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.” After the introduction of Entries 17-A and 17-B was introduced in the List – III of the Seventh Schedule, the Parliament was empowered to enact laws without recourse to Article 252. This Act has been amended in 2002 and it is evident that the Act has been enacted for the following two purposes: I. To provide for protection of wild animals, birds and plants and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. II. To ensure the ecological and environmental security of the country. Section 2 deals with definitions like animal, captive animal, habitat, hunting etc. it also discuss about the National Parks, Protected Areas, Reserve Forest, Sanctuary wildlife etc. National Board was formed under the Section 5 of the Act to frame policies and advising Central Government and State Government. Article 9 says: “No person shall hunt any wild animals specifies in Schedule I, II and III of the Act. (Source: Environmental Law by P.S. Jaswal and Nishtha Jaswal)
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation Union). The text of the convention was finally agreed at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington DC., United States of America, on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES entered in force. India is a member of CITES. About 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 species of plants are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade. (Source: https://www.cites.org/eng/disc/what.shtml)
It was established in 1976. It is an organization governed by TRAFFIC Committee, a steering group composed of members of TRAFFIC’s partner organizations, WWF and IUCN. A central aim of TRAFFIC’s activities is to contribute to the wildlife trade-related priorities of these partners. TRAFFIC also works in close co-operation with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). TRAFFIC’s global network is research-driven, action-oriented, and committed to delivering innovative and practical solutions to wildlife trade issues based on the latest information. (Source: https://www.traffic.org/overview/)
It was founded in 1994 by Belinda Wright, its Executive Director, who was an award-winning wildlife photographer and filmmaker. WPSI’s main aim has been to bring a new focus to the daunting task of tackling India’s growing wildlife crisis. It does this by providing support and information to government authorities to combat poaching and the escalating illegal wildlife trade – particularly in wild tigers. It has now broadened its focus to deal with human-animal conflicts and provide support for research projects. It is a registered non-profit organization, funded by a wide range of Indian and international donors. (Source: https://www.wpsi-india.org/wpsi/index.php)
It is a non-profit conservation organization, committed to urgent action that works towards the protection of India’s wildlife. It was formed in Nov 1998. The principal concerns include crisis management and provision of quick, efficient aid to individuals or habitat. The core team includes scientists, field biologists, conservation managers, lawyers, veterinarians etc. WTI is a registered charity in India (under Section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961) and is mandated by its Board of Trustees to ensure that 85 % of all specified donor monies go to the field. (Source: https://www.wti.org.in/pages/about-wti.html)
India and USA, in cooperation with several other governments and organizations, have jointly entered into an agreement to curb and contain the wildlife trade. The objective of this coalition is to curb the trade, enhance anti-trafficking law enforcement, rescuing wild animals and returning them to their native habitats, etc. its main aim is to focus public and political attention and resources on ending the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. (Source: https://www.cawtglobal.org/about/)
Cases regarding wildlife trading (Source: www.wildlifelaw.in)
The manufacturers and sellers of articles of art and craft made of ivory challenged the 1991 Amendment to WLPA that prohibited trade in imported ivory. They had not disposed of the ivory within the stipulated period. The High Court upheld the amendment. On appeal, the Supreme Court examined the constitutional challenge and held that the prohibition of import of ivory is fully justified under Art 19 (6) of the constitution. ‘A trade which is dangerous to ecology may be regulated or totally prohibited.’ Implementation of Directive Principles is within the expression of restrictions in the interest of the general public. Balancing the social interest and the fundamental rights, a total prohibition is reasonable. Justice SB Sinha held: The principal object for which dealing in ivory imported from Africa had been prohibited was to see that while holding the stock the people may not deal in Indian ivory which may be procured from illegal killings of Indian elephant. The Amending Act indirectly seeks to protect Indian Elephant and to arrest their further depletion. Wildlife forms part of our cultural heritage. Animal plays a vital role in maintaining ecological balance. The amendments have been brought for the purpose of saving the endangered species from extinction as also for arresting depletion in their numbers caused by callous exploitation thereof. It was held that not only trade or occupation in relation to ivory in question is prohibited but possession or any transfer thereof in any manner whatsoever is prohibited under the Act subject, however, to the provisions of sub-sections (1), (3) and (6) of 49-C of the Act.
S.B. SINHA, J: QUESTION: Whether ‘mammoth ivory’ imported in India answers the description of the words ‘ivory imported in India’ contained in Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the said Act’) as amended by Act No. 44 of 1991 is the question involved in these appeals which arise out of a common judgment and order dated 20.3.1997 passed by a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court. FACTUAL BACKGROUND: The appellants M/s Unigems had imported mammoth fossil said to be of an extinct species in the year 1987. The stock of mammoth fossil held by the appellants is said to be periodically checked by the statutory authorities. The appellant in the other case Balram Kumawat is a carver. The appellants state that mammoth ivory is distinguishable by visual and non-destructive means visa- vis elephant ivory and even in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) their distinguishing features have been pointed out. As Mammoth is an extinct species and as what is being used for carving is its fossil which is called ivory because it has white and hard dentine substance which is also available in other
animals, namely, Whale, Walrus, Hippos and Warthog; it was urged, they cannot be included in the term ‘ivory’ within the meaning of the provisions of the said Act. FINDINGS: In the connected matter in Indian Handicrafts Emporium & Ors.Vs. Union of India & Ors. (Civil Appeal No. 7533 of 1997) disposed of this date; this Court upheld the constitutional validity of the provisions of the said Act. This Court held that in terms of Sub-Section (7) of Section 49-C of the Act all persons in general and traders in particular have become disentitled from keeping in their control any animal article including ivory imported in India. This Court further held that as a logical corollary to the said finding, the statutory authorities would be entitled to take possession of such ivory in terms thereof; the purport and object of the Act being to impose a complete ban on trade in ivory. A complete prohibition has been imposed in the trade of ivory (whether imported in India or extracted by killing Indian elephants) for the purpose of protecting the endangered species. The purport and object of the Act, as noticed in the judgment in Indian Handicrafts Emporium (supra), is that nobody can carry on business activity in imported ivory so that while doing so, trade in ivory procured by way of poaching of elephants may be facilitated. The Parliament, therefore, advisedly used the word ‘ivory’ instead of elephant ivory. For the purpose of determination of the question, only the dictionary meaning of the term ‘ivory’ was considered. The object of the Parliament was not only to ban trade in imported elephant ivory but ivory of every description so that poaching of elephant can be effectively restricted.
In this case there are batches of writ petitions filed by the manufacturers, wholesalers and dealers engaged in retail trade of tanned, cured and finished skins of animals. Petitioners are also engaged in retail trade of articles made of skin, hereinafter referred to as the animal articles. The petitioners in the above writ petitions had challenged the introduction of provisions of Chapter VA in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 by Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act 1986, together with notification issued hereunder as being violative of Article 19(1) (g) read with Articles 300 and 300A of the Constitution of India. The petitioners claim to have applied for licenses and were granted licenses in various categories and claim to have carried on their business as valid license holders. The schedule to the Act was amended in 1927 which included snake skin and the authorities stopped permission for export of snake skin. The impugned Act rendered jobless the petitioners who carried on their legitimate trade, business and occupation, without any compensation. The petitioners, who had lawfully acquired skin and skin articles of animals already killed and had invested huge amounts of money, were deprived of their sources of livelihood. It resulted in extinction of fundamental rights of the petitioner under Article 19(1) (g). Court vides interim order made on 23-1-1987 permitted the petitioners to make the declaration of stocks.
The petitioners had been provided under the Act a period of two months to dispose of their stocks and as noticed above in fact as a result of petitions filed and orders passed, the petitioners have enjoyed the opportunity to sell for a period of nearly six years till February, 1993. Accordingly, the petitioners cannot have any legitimate grievance of denial of opportunity in this regard. Neither the State nor the Bharat Leather Corporation and the State Trading Corporation are under any legal obligation to buy the stocks of the petitioners in acceptance of the one time sale proposition advanced by the petitioners. The petitioners are also not entitled to any further time for disposal of stocks. The stocks of the petitioners would, therefore, be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The provisions of Chapter V-A, introduced by the Amending Act of 1986 to the Wild Life Act of 1972 were held valid. Hence for the aforesaid reasons the writ petitions were dismissed.
Point here to be noticed is that India does not take long to abide law to any illegal activity but there is no authority to cross-check if the laws are strictly followed or not. Law is violated without fear and no stringent action is taken against it. Moreover, the law procedure is too lengthy to be implemented that illegal activities takes a new irreversible turn in the meantime.
Feel Good News
Hindustan Times: 20th October, 2010 Wildlife poachers can soon be jailed for a minimum of seven years and fined at least Rs 30 lakh for killing endangered species, and the country will have two bodies to regulate international wildlife trade. The law ministry on Tuesday approved over 100 amendments in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, bringing it in tune with wildlife protection laws across the world by including regulation of species not native to India, a requirement under a global convention on wildlife. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said the bill, which strengthens the powers of forest and enforcement agencies, will be introduced in the winter session of Parliament after getting the cabinet’s approval. To provide the highest degree of legal protection to the most vulnerable animals against poaching, the amendments have put tigers, whose population is said to be less than 1,411, in Category 1. Other endangered animals in this category include lions, elephants, rhinos, crocodiles and antelopes. Killing an animal in Category 1 could attract a minimum jail term of five years and maximum of seven. The fine prescribed ranges from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 1 crore. For species under Category 2, including endangered birds, the jail term suggested is between three to five years and fine of up to Rs 3 lakh.
Traffic India, a wildlife trade monitoring network, has released four brand new public service announcements as part of its ongoing “Don’t Buy Trouble” campaign that advises tourists to be careful of what they buy as souvenirs during their travel to India. “The posters send a clear message that it is not only the poachers and traders of endangered wildlife who are liable for punishment under India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, but also those who purchase and use such items. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse,” said a release issued by the Traffic India. Other posters warn against buying Shahtoosh shawls stating that for the making one shawl two or three Chirus are killed. Buying these shawls is a criminal offence and is punishable. (Source: https://www.traffic.org/home/?currentPage)
Hard News Magazine: 19th October, 2010 In a historic judgment a Delhi court awarded six years imprisonment – the maximum term mandated by the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act – to notorious wildlife trader Sansar Chand, also known as the Veerappan of north India. The case dates back to 1995 when he was caught red-handed with a leopard skin. Chand is considered responsible for the complete wipe-out of the big cat from the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. According to wildlife law enforcers, around 250 tigers have fallen prey to Chand’s vicious demand for tiger parts. This judgment has brought cheer to many conservationists who hope it can dissuade people from entering and pursuing the banned trade.
Kendrapada | Monday, Oct 25 2010 A Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) court of Pattamundai under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 has remanded three poachers, who were arrested on Saturday for killing a wild boar, in to police custody. Dangamala Forest Range Officer Durga Charan Sahu said the three accused trapped a wild boar by entering illegally into the Kantika Forest block under the Bhitarkanika National Park.Later, they killed the wild boar and sold its meat at Talachua and Tikayatnagar. Acting on a tip-off, a forest team conducted raid and seized the cooked wildboar meat from the house of one Subala Singh of Talachua village. The three arrested people were later produced before the court which remanded them into jail custody after rejecting their bail petitions. (Source: https://www.newkerala.com/news/world/fullnews-70497.html)
Naval personnel detained five fishermen and seized two boats along with 1600 kg of sea cucumber, an endangered marine species, in Rameswaram. Sources said sea cucumber poaching came to light when personnel of Naval Detachment of Rameswaram carried out random check on mechanised boats, which were seen near the Kothandaramar temple shore. While six fishermen of a boat, which had 900 kg of sea cucumber, escaped after abandoning the boat, five fishermen of another boat were secured with 600 kg of sea cucumbers, which were alive when they were brought to the shore. Later, they were produced before the Judicial Magistrate court in Rameswaram, which ordered 15 days judicial custody. On the direction of the court, sea cucumbers were destroyed.
(Source: https://www.wwfindia.org/about_wwf/enablers/traffic/news_from_trafficking_trade/) Long way to goA¢â‚¬A¦ Wildlife trafficking has grown into such a lucrative number that it testifies the fact that there is no end to man wants, greed and insensitivity. The trade has spread in all sections of society and continues to grow. If left unchecked, this will soon spell the end of several ecosystems on which man depends. India is still plagued with illiteracy, poverty etc. this only pushes the need for quick money, without giving a second thought to its consequences. India lives in mindset that views animals as resources that should be used, when in need. To protect animals requires a sea change in the way animals are seen. India has wildlife laws that are very stringent but have no means to enforce them. Reason is corruption. The money is spent on good causes but mostly reaches the wrong pockets. The main need of the time is waking up of people sensitivity towards this issue. They should start feel for the country and its ecology rather than their own greed. Ignorance, coupled with insensitivity, rules. Active cooperation of the public is needed. There should be more a participatory approach to wildlife conservation. Though government is trying to look the matter from new perspective and the involved officials are doing a committed job but a lot is demanded from the common man. The consequences have to be imprint into them so that their duty overheard their greed.
Wildlife extinction is so connected with all eco-systems that a slight tilt in its balance causes unimaginable disturbances in our normal life we are the direct and indirect consumers of life. The change needs to come within us. We must understand and curb the ways in which we are contributing to the offence. Stop buying wildlife and wildlife parts and products made by using them. If there are no buyers, there will be no sellers and no poachers then. We must be a part of organizations who indulge in protecting the wildlife. We must educate people and spread awareness. We must report any instance of illegal trade that we come across. We must realize that these ecosystems have sustained mankind for so long. And now, it’s our turn to sustain it.
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