UN Environment India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India have launched an awareness campaign ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ to be displayed at major airports across the country. Actor, Producer, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and recently appointed Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate, Dia Mirza, recently inaugurated the campaign in presence of officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India, UN Environment, UN agencies and GMR Group.
“Conservation is innate to India’s ethos. While wildlife faces threat across the globe and India’s flora and fauna’s demand continues in illegal global markets, in keeping with our stringent provisions for protection of wildlife under the Wild life (Protection) Act, 1972, efforts towards creating awareness among public at large would go a long way to help protect our wildlife,” said, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri CK Mishra.
Illegal wildlife trade is driving species to the brink of extinction. A thriving industry with organized wildlife crime chains spreading across the world, in India, illegal trade in wildlife has seen a sharp rise. The campaign ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ aims at creating awareness and garnering public support for the protection and conservation of wildlife, prevention of smuggling and reduction in demand for wildlife products. The campaign also complements worldwide action on illegal trade in wildlife through UN Environment’s global campaign, Wild for Life.
“There is an urgent need for awareness, action and stringent enforcement of laws to put an end to all illegal wildlife trade threatening biodiversity and conservation in the wild. This campaign is an important step forward in creating much-needed awareness on wildlife trafficking which threatens the very survival of these species,” said Atul Bagai, Head, UN Environment India.
In the first phase of the campaign, Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko have been chosen as they are highly endangered due to illegal trading in International markets. Tiger is traded for its skin, bones and body parts; Pangolin, the most illegally traded wild mammal on the planet is trafficked for its meat and its scales are used in traditional medicines; Star Tortoise for meat and pet trade and Tokay Gecko in traditional medicine mostly into South East Asia and particularly Chinese Markets. Phase two will see more threatened species and explore other routes of trafficking.
“A huge global demand for our flora and fauna is a major cause for illegal wildlife trade by ruthless cross border smugglers. WCCB stands committed to fight this organized crime but it is crucial to work together across various government and non-government organizations, private sector and civil society to save wildlife. Our awareness campaign at Airports is a step towards reaching out to the public,” said Tilotama Varma, Additional Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India
Recent media reports on seizures of illegally traded species and their parts at airports is a growing indication of rampant wildlife trafficking. Some of the major wildlife species being smuggled through airports are star tortoises, live birds, Shahtoosh shawls, tiger and leopard body parts, ivory, rhino horns, pangolin and pangolin scales, sea shells, sea-horse, Sea-cucumber, red sanders, agarwood, deer antlers, mongoose hairs, reptile skins, live snakes, lizards, corals, orchids and medicinal plants.
Dia Mirza, Actor, Producer, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador & Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate said, “Wildlife trafficking thrives on ignorance and indifference to the species and laws that govern it .This campaign gives a glimpse of the cruelty and suffering these magnificent species have to endure for being trafficked. The need of the hour is greater awareness and commitment to protecting these species to ensure that they not just survive but also thrive in the wild.”
In collaboration with the Airports Authority of India and GMR Group, the campaign will travel across 22 airports across India over the next year. Both WCCB and UN Environment initiated a comprehensive approach with a focus on awareness building of various stakeholders towards the issue of prevention of illegal trade and smuggling of wildlife and wildlife products through exit points. The awareness campaign is expected to complement the efforts of the Govt. Agencies.