Context: The report titled “Indian wildlife amidst the COVID-19 crisis: An analysis of the status of poaching and illegal wildlife trade” 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. 
    • However, It mentions that there was no evidence of stockpiling of wildlife products for future trade.
  • Period of analysis
    • The researchers analyzed compared media reports of poaching incidents in a six-week period before the lockdown (February 10 to March 22) with those from six weeks during the lockdown (March 23 to May 3)
  • Based on this analysis, the report has found that poaching incidences rose from 35 to 88.” 
    • The report also added that it remains unknown how reporting rates in the media have changed because of the lockdown.
  • The report also pointed out that the number of persons arrested for poaching related cases during lockdown was higher than in pre-lockdown weeks.

Analysis of the report

  • A species-group comparison in the report says that the biggest increase in reported poaching was related to ungulates(they are any members of a diverse polyphyletic group of primarily large mammals with hooves)
    • Here the percentage jumped from 22% of total reported cases during pre-lockdown, to 44% during the lockdown period.
    • The increase is probably due to those poaching for self-consumption or those who are trying to compensate for their loss of income by making quick money through poaching.
  •  Small mammals category
    • The second group of animals where there was a marked increase in poaching was ‘small mammals’.
    • It includes hares, porcupines, pangolins, giant squirrels, civets, monkeys, and smaller wild cats. 
    • Cases against this group 17% to 25% between the pre-and lockdown periods.
  • Bird-related seizures
    • There was a slight decrease in the incidence of bird-related seizures, which dropped from 14% to 7% between the analysis period. 
  • There was less reporting of poaching and illegal trade in tortoises and freshwater turtles, with almost no seizures of these species during the lockdown period.
  • Even though there are reports about pangolins being linked to the coronavirus crisis, the report states that pangolins were targeted by poachers in various parts of the country.
    • Live pangolins Manis spp. and their scales were seized from poachers in Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Odisha.


  • The outcome of this report indicates that “despite efforts by law enforcement agencies, wild animal populations in India are being subjected to additional threats during the lockdown period”
  • More than doubling of reported poaching cases will place additional burdens on wildlife law enforcement agencies.
    • It is imperative that wildlife law enforcement agencies are supported adequately and in a timely manner so they can control the situation.


About TRAFFIC (The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network)

  • It is a leading non-governmental organization working on wildlife trade in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
  • It is a joint program of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • It was established in 1976 and has developed into a global network, research-driven and action-oriented, committed to delivering innovative and practical conservation solutions.
  • Headquarters: Cambridge, United Kingdom.
  • It aims to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.
  • It played a key role in bringing together the South Asian countries to form the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN).
    • The main aim of this initiative is to have the countries collaborate and cooperate to fight wildlife crime in the region.
Image Source: TH