Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has rolled out an advisory also known as a one-time voluntary disclosure scheme which will allow the owners of exotic live species to declare it to the government.
India has seen a rise in demand for exotic birds and animals and noted an increase in smuggling of endangered species. Representative Image
Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has rolled out an advisory also known as a one-time voluntary disclosure scheme which will allow the owners of exotic live species to declare it to the government. The scheme applies for those who have illegally acquired exotic pets between June and December 2020 and do not have any documents. With the introduction of this scheme, the government is trying to address the challenge of zoonotic diseases as well as develop an inventory of exotic live species. This will also enable better compliance under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) along with regulation of their import. However, it is to note that the current form suggesting an amnesty scheme is an advisory and not a law as of now.
According to a report by The Indian Express, CITES is an international agreement between governments that ensures international trade does not endanger wild animals, birds and plants. The report said that Appendices I, II and III of CITES have listed as many as 5,950 species that need protection against over-exploitation via international trade. These species include animals like lemurs, iguanas, albino monkeys, civets, tortoises, coral snakes. These species are also popularly kept as exotic pets in India.
The report citing the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) said that India has seen a rise in demand for exotic birds and animals and noted an increase in smuggling of endangered species. According to DRI, smuggling in India is from different parts of the world as many exotic wildlife species are being imported via Illegal channels and later sold in the domestic market as pets.
Therefore, the government has advised people to come and report their exotic pets even if they do not have documents and they can be saved from penalties. The report highlighted that the disclosure can be made via online means- MoEFCC’s Parivesh portal. The pet owners declaring their pets will have to report stock as on January 1, 2020. Later, a physical verification of animals will take place and the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) will issue an online certificate of possession (for exotic species) within six months of owner’s disclosure.
The CWLW has to also be given information regarding any new acquisition, death or change in possession of the exotic animals within 30 days. Owners will also have to update the government officials about their personal details- numbers and the address of the facility.
Meanwhile last month, the Supreme Court upheld an Allahabad High Court order that granted immunity from investigation and prosecution on a condition that the owners declare their illegal acquisition or possession of exotic wildlife species.