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Tackling the trade in lesser known endangered species

 

Posted by: Shubhobroto Ghosh / posted on June 9th, 2014

Measures to protect wildlife species, such as pangolins, birds, tortoises and sharks, whose illegal trade in India is poorly known were formulated today during a meeting held in New Delhi.

Wildlife experts; policy makers; scientists; research scholars; conservationists; and senior officials from the state forest departments, Ministry of Environment and Forests, enforcement agencies, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), WCCB, and wildlife NGOs brainstormed the steps needed to protect the future of some lesser known species.

Every year in India, hundreds of pangolins, lizards and tortoises are poached, an estimated 700,000 birds are illegally trapped, and about 70,000 tonnes of sharks are caught, yet the levels of exploitation on these species are rarely reported.

“While the threat posed by illegal wildlife trade to some of India’s most iconic wild animals, such as the Tiger and Indian Rhinoceros are well publicised, many of India’s less well-known species are also rapidly vanishing because to poaching, yet their fate remains largely under the radar,” said Dr Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Head of TRAFFIC in India.

“Pangolins are highly threatened because they are subject to a colossal illegal trade internationally, yet their plight is barely publicised in conservation or media circles. Others, like the monitor lizard, mongoose, Star Tortoises, Spiny-tailed Lizards, freshwater and mariner turtles also need immediate attention.”

Monitor lizards, especially the Bengal Monitor, were once commonly seen across the country but appear to have declined markedly, apparently after becoming a target of unabated poaching and illegal trade.

Little is known about the levels of illegal trade or its impact on species such as sea cucumbers, seahorses or Red Sand, the “double-headed” snake, has recently been in demand due to the new age superstitions attached to it.

“TRAFFIC has flagged its concern about these lesser known species for some time, highlighting our concerns in our newsletter—TRAFFIC Post—and also through the distribution of posters and other awareness raising materials,” said Dr Niraj.


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