Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
New guidelines for import of exotic species
Context: Union Government has issued advisory to streamline the process for import and possession of exotic live species in India.
The move comes as the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has raised global concern about illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases.
What are exotic live species?
Exotic live species are animal or plant species moved from their original range to a new one most often by people.
Some of the most sought after exotic species in India are Ball python, Scarlet Macaw, sea turtles, sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps), marmoset and grey African parrots.
What it includes? What it does not?
According to the advisory, the phrase “exotic live species” includes “animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora” and “does not include species from the Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972”.
Need for regulation:
While import of live exotic animals is covered under Customs Act in India, wildlife experts have long been asking for stringent laws and guidelines to document and regulate numbers of exotic species being kept as pets by individuals and breeders in India.
- Many citizens have kept CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) enlisted exotic animal species in their possession.
- However, there is no unified information system available of such stock of species at the State or Central level.
- Besides, often these species are illegally trafficked into the country to avoid lengthy documentation and scrutiny.
As per the recently released guidelines:
- Environment Ministry will collect stock information from the holders of such species through voluntary disclosure in next six months.
- The registration will be done for the stock of animals, new progeny, as well as for import and exchange.
- The declarer would not be required to produce any documentation in relation to the exotic live species if the same has been declared within six months of the date of issue of the advisory.
- For any declaration made after six months, the declarer shall be required to comply with the documentation requirement under the extant laws and regulations.
- Further, a person trying to import a live exotic animal will have to submit an application for grant of a licence to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), under the provisions of the advisory.
- The importer will also have to attach a No Objection Certificate (NOC) of the chief wildlife warden of the state concerned along with the application.
Implications and significance of this move:
This will help in better management of the species and guide the holders about proper veterinary care, housing and other aspects of well-being of the species.
The database of exotic animals will also help in control and management of zoonotic diseases on which guidance would be available from time to time to ensure safety of animals and humans.
What is missing?
Experts said the advisory did not provide answers to all problems.
- Matters such as spread of invasive species as well as zoonotic diseases had not been taken care of in the advisory.
- Limiting the scope of the latest advisory to only those species covered under CITES drastically limits the scope of the advisory itself.
- There is also a growing domestic trade in exotic species of wildlife that is unfortunately not listed under the various appendices of CITES (such as sugar gliders, corn snakes).
- There is no mention of the welfare standards of such captive facilities that could lead to ‘legal’ backyard breeding of wildlife with poor to no welfare concern of the wild animals involved.
- What are exotic species- definition in the advisory?
- What is CITES?
- Classification of species under CITES?
- What is Wildlife (Protection) Act? Species protected under various schedules of this act.
- As per the new guidelines, what is the procedure to be followed while importing new exotic species?
- What about the existing species in the country?
- About chief wildlife warden of the state.
Discuss the significance of recently issued guidelines for import of exotic species in the country.
Sources: the Hindu.