Maha to collate data on smugglers, wild animals to curb illicit trade
To keep a check on the illicit wildlife trade, state departments have been asked to compile data on smugglers and animal species in demand. The decision was taken after the authorities rescued 523 star tortoises and seized 8,000 kg of shark fins in the first week of September.
Agencies handling cases related to wildlife crimes have been directed to submit details of smuggling cases and accused arrested to Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).
The interagency coordination team for enforcement of wildlife law comprises agencies such as Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Customs, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), forest department, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and railway protection force (RPF). These agencies met on Monday as a part of an event organised by TRAFFIC India, an NGO working globally on trade in wild animals and plants.
“The idea is to improve coordination between different agencies, bring them on one platform and strengthen collective efforts of the government to combat wildlife crime. We will adopt all means to bust wildlife crimes, especially against marine species,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell and chairperson of the team.
HT had reported in July that a WCCB study found Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) accounts for 70% of wildlife and live animal trade along the country’s west coast. Over the past seven years, MMR has become a hub for illicit wildlife trade.
“Currently, there is no formal coordination and the decision will help tackle illicit wildlife trade in a holistic way,” said Saket Badola head, TRAFFIC India. “Data related to major international seizures will be collected and shared with all these agencies so that they are updated. It was also decided that policy interventions to curb illicit wildlife trade will be taken up by the state and the Centre.”
Black spotted turtles, star tortoises, sharks, ornamental fish and pangolins are some of the most sought after species by smugglers.
WCCB officials said methods used to secure animals, transport routes and quantity of trade were discussed at the meet.
“There is need for capacity building across villages where this trade thrives. Also, various departments need to be sensitised so they can identify such consignments better,” said M Maranko, regional deputy director, WCCB.
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