Context: The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has issued an advisory saying people importing “exotic live species” will have to make a voluntary disclosure.
- The move comes as the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has raised global concern about illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases.
- Considering the significance of the import and export of exotic live species, the Ministry has issued the advisory to streamline the process.
- Exotic live species are animal or plant species moved from their original range
- (location) to a new one.
- These species are introduced to a new location most often by people.
“Indian wildlife amidst the COVID-19 crisis: An analysis of the status of poaching and illegal wildlife trade”
- The report was released recently by TRAFFIC.
- Findings of the report:
- The report has recorded a significant increase in poaching in India during the over two-month-long lockdown period.
- It points out that reports of poaching for consumption and local trade have more than doubled during COVID-19 lockdown.
- The Ministry has said “exotic live species” shall be construed to mean only “the animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora”.
- (CITES Appendix I, no trade happens,
- Appendix II, trade can happen with prior permission
- Appendix III, there are a large number of animals and birds which can be traded.)
- For new “exotic live species”, the importer should obtain a no-objection certificate from the Chief Wildlife Warden ( CWLW) of the State.
- For existing species, stocks “shall be declared by the owner/ holder (stock, as on 1 January 2020) to the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) of the concerned State or UT”.
- The advisory also has provision of “registration of progenies of imported animals” to the respective CWLW within 30 days after their birth.
- The processes under this Advisory shall be dealt online through the Parivesh Portal.
- Experts have welcomed the move and said it will create a process where all imports will be screened.
- As of now, the imports are being made through the Director General of Foreign Trade and State Forest departments are not kept in the loop.
- This move is going to be a disabler in the business of wildlife trade.
- Exotics are a major problem for us because of invasive species and possible ecological imbalance if they are released in the wild.
- This is the first time that CITES Appendix listed animals will be examined by the State Forest department.
- Earlier it was limited to customs officers to check whether the animal is being imported following CITES rule.
- The forest officials would get greater control over Pet shops because earlier the owners would say the animals are not Indian species and hence not protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, which impeded the regulation.
- CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments.
- Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
- CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation Union).
- The text of the Convention was finally agreed at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington, D.C., the United States of America, on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES entered in force, this is why it is popularly called as washington convention.
- Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws.
- Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
- For many years CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 183 Parties.
- Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 37,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.
- Appendices I, II and III to the Convention are lists of species afforded different levels or types of protection from over-exploitation.
- Appendix 1 - It lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants.
- They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research.
- For this both export and import permits are required.
- Appendix II - It lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.
- It also includes so-called "look-alike species", i.e. species whose specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reasons.
- International trade in specimens of Appendix-II species may be authorized by the granting of an export permit or re-export certificate.
- Generally import permits are not required.
- Appendix III - It is a list of species included at the request of a Party that already regulates trade in the species and that needs the cooperation of other countries to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation.
- International trade in specimens of species listed in this Appendix is allowed only on presentation of the appropriate permits or certificates.
- Species may be added to or removed from Appendix I and II, or moved between them, only by the Conference of the Parties, But species may be added to or removed from Appendix III at any time and by any Party unilaterally.
- It is a web based, role based workflow application which has been developed for online submission and monitoring of the proposals submitted by the proponents for seeking Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ Clearances from Central, State and district level authorities.
- It automates the entire tracking of proposals which includes online submission of a new proposal, editing/updating the details of proposals and displays status of the proposals. at each stage of the workflow.