Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Voluntary Disclosure of Exotic Pets


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CITES

Mains level: Exotic species trade

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld an Allahabad High Court order granting immunity from investigation and prosecution if one declared illegal acquisition or possession of exotic wildlife species.

Q.What are Zoonotic Diseases? Discuss how the illicit trade in wildlife has resulted in the spread of zoonotic diseases of the scale of the ongoing COVID-19?

Voluntary disclosure scheme

  • The MoEFCC has come out with an advisory on a one-time voluntary disclosure amnesty scheme.
  • It allows owners of exotic live species that have been acquired illegally, or without documents, to declare their stock to the government between June and December 2020.
  • The scheme aims to address the challenge of zoonotic diseases and regulate their import. In its current form, however.
  • It shall develop an inventory of exotic live species for better compliance under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • However, the amnesty scheme is just an advisory, not a law

What kind of exotic wildlife is covered?

  • The advisory has defined exotic live species as animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the CITES.
  • It does not include species from the Schedules of the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972.
  • So, a plain reading of the advisory excludes exotic birds from the amnesty scheme.

Why need such a scheme?

  • The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which enforces anti-smuggling laws, says India has emerged as a big demand centre for exotic birds and animals.
  • There has been an increase in smuggling of endangered species from different parts of the world.
  • Most of these exotic wildlife is imported through Illegal channels and then sold in the domestic market as pets.
  • The long international border and air routes are used to source consignments from Bangkok, Malaysia and other top tourist destinations in South East Asia, as well as from Europe into India.

Back2Basics: CITES

  • CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • It is as an international agreement aimed at ensuring “that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival”.
  • It was drafted after a resolution was adopted at a meeting of the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963.
  • It entered into force on July 1, 1975, and now has 183 parties.
  • The Convention is legally binding on the Parties in the sense that they are committed to implementing it; however, it does not take the place of national laws.
  • India is a signatory to and has also ratified CITES convention in 1976.

CITES Appendices

  • CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls.
  • All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the convention has to be authorized through a licensing system. It has three appendices:
  1. Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade-in specimens of these species are permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  2. Appendix II provides a lower level of protection.
  3. Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling trade.

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