India launches campaign to stop illegal wildlife trading
May 21, 2019 | 4:35 PM
by Agencies
Supplied photo.

Kolkata: India, in collaboration with multiple UN agencies, has launched a massive campaign at airports across the country to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trading.

The 'Not All Animals Migrate By Choice' campaign was inaugurated by Actress and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza in the presence of officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India, UN Environment, other UN agencies and GMR Group.

Mirza, said, “Wildlife trafficking thrives on ignorance and indifference to the species and laws that govern it .This campaign gives a glimpse of the cruelty and suffering these magnificent species have to endure for being trafficked. The need of the hour is greater awareness and commitment to protecting these species to ensure that they not just survive but also thrive in the wild.”

The illegal trade in wildlife is driving species all over the globe to the brink of extinction. In India, the trade is expanding rapidly, driven by demand for rare species—headed for the pet market—as well as for species believed to have medicinal properties.

Indian wildlife species and products commonly smuggled out of the country are tiger and leopard skins, their bones and other body parts, rhino horns, ivory, turtles and tortoises, sea horses, snake venom, mongoose hair, snake skins, tokay gecko, sea cucumber, chiru fleece, musk pods, bear bile, medicinal plants, red sanders timber and caged birds such as parakeets, mynas, munias.

“There is an urgent need for awareness, action and stringent enforcement of laws to put an end to all illegal wildlife trade threatening biodiversity and conservation in the wild," said Atul Bagai, Head, UN Environment India. "This campaign is an important step forward in creating much-needed awareness on wildlife trafficking which threatens the very survival of these species.”

The campaign will travel 22 airports across India over the next year as part of a collaboration with the Airports Authority of India and GMR Group

In the first phase of the campaign, the animals chosen to be highlighted were the tiger, pangolin, star tortoise, and tokay gecko due to their highly endangered status and demand in the illicit wildlife trade.

According to UN Environment, India is only 2.4 per cent of world's land area, but contributes about 8 per cent of known global wildlife, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals.

Despite having a huge population of over 1.3 billion, the country boasts 662 protected areas, five of them designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

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