Illegal Wildlife Trade Amidst the Biggest Animal Fair of Asia – The Sonepur Animal Mela in Bihar

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The Sonepur Cattle Fair, aka the Harihar Kshetra Mela, the biggest cattle fair of Asia is rooted in Hindu mythology. Based on a sacred legend in Hinduism – Gajendra Moksha (The Liberation of Gajendra), folklore has it that Lord Vishnu descended upon earth to protect Gajendra, (the elephant) from the clutches of Makara, (the crocodile) and awarded him Moksha (salvation).

An official survey of the Sonepur Cattle Fair, led by TRAFFIC in November-December of 2013, unveiled … Read More

The Six Percent Solution — a New Recipe for Saving Wild Tigers

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21 leading conservation biologists from across the world have proposed that since it might be far too expensive and far too difficult to save all wild tigers, we should focus a major part of our efforts and expenditure on 42 selected sites that show the greatest promise. Here’s CI’s distilled version of the original paper titled Bringing the tiger back from the brink – The six percent solution.

Current approaches to tiger conservation have not succeeded in slowing the decline … Read More

Uncovering an Obscure Trade: Threatened Freshwater Fishes and the Aquarium Pet Markets

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An analaysis of trade data on freshwater fish exports for ornamental trade was recently published in Biological Conservation 164: 158-169: R. Raghavan, N. Dahanukar, M. Tlusty, A. Rhyne, K. Krishnakumar, S. Molur & A.M. Rosser (2013) Uncovering an obscure trade: threatened freshwater fishes and the aquarium pet trade.

The trade deals with 30 species that are threatened with extinction. Here are the highlights of the paper.

Highlights of the study

  • This study for the first time assessed the extent, magnitude
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Bullfrogs in a Bucket

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This image highlights the serious problem of Indian Bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) poaching during the monsoon. We came across a paddy farmer near Jog falls, Mavingundi, Karnataka, who had collected nearly 30 bullfrogs and kept them in a bucket waiting to hand them over to a guy from Goa who was supposed to come and collect the frogs for the Goan Bar/Restaurant market. They are sold as ‘Jumping chicken’ there. We immediately rescued and released them plus reported the poacher to … Read More

Hunter’s Bag, Zuneheboto, Nagaland

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Staring idly out of the window as we made our way along the winding, dust-covered roads of Nagaland’s picturesque green hills, we were suddenly snapped out of our reverie by the sight of two young boys dangling a collection of squirrels and birds including a slender, black and white badger-like creature. We could buy the whole bunch for just Rs. 800 we were told, and the boys proudly posed for a picture with their wares. The badger and birds were … Read More

China’s Illegal Ivory Trade Escalating Out of Control – Save the Elephants

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Save the Elephants Press Release

The illegal ivory trade is exploding in China, overwhelming efforts to enforce the law, according to the results of the first detailed research on the markets of Beijing and Shanghai since 2002, published today by Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation.

Skyrocketing demand for ivory in China – the wholesale price of raw elephant tusks has tripled in just four years since 2010 – have sparked a booming trade in smuggled ivory that is … Read More

The Endangered Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle

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The Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle (Chitra indica) of the family Trionychidae, is an extremely large, highly aquatic species. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and placed in Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. It is widely but patchily distributed throughout the riverine ecosystems of the Indian subcontinent. The Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle does not appear to exist at high densities anywhere in its range. Its specialized dietary and habitat requirements make it … Read More

Rescued Great Barbet, Doyang, Nagaland

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This fledgling Great Barbet (Megalaima virens) was rescued from a hunter by an educator who works with the Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust (NWBCT) in Doyang, Nagaland. It was just a chick when it was rescued and is currently being nursed to adulthood so it can be released in the wild. In Nagaland, such incidents of rescue are very rare.

The merciless, uncontrolled, rampant, widespread and all-year round hunting in Nagaland of almost all life-forms will, in … Read More

Palm Civets Rescued, Trade Busted in Mysore

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The Forest Mobile Squad (FMS), Mysore, busted a pet trade involving Common Palm Civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) following a raid on a house outside the city. The accused, who has been handed over to the police, was rearing the civets at his residence. He confessed that he hunted the civets in Madahalli reserve forest between Mysore and HD Kote.

See media report about this bust.

Wildlife poachers and traders in India are not just going after large, charismatic … Read More

Eating pangolins to extinction — ZSL / IUCN Press Release

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The enigmatic pangolin, or scaly anteater, is literally being eaten out of existence according to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, which shows that all eight species are now threatened with extinction.

Resembling an artichoke with legs and a tail, the pangolin is the world’s only truly scaly mammal. Their scales act as armour against natural predators but offer no defence against poachers.

The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group, which is hosted … Read More

Spiny-tailed Lizard Poaching, Desert National Park

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38 half-dead Spiny-tailed lizards were seized from three poachers near Beermadera village in Pokhran subdivision of Jaisalmer district. The forest department received information of a poaching gang catching Spiny-tailed lizards from their burrows. The department team immediately reached the spot and caught the three poachers and recovered the lizards, which had their spines broken and were packed tightly in bags.

Department officials state that the poachers cook and eat these lizards (considered a delicacy) after extracting oil (by burning their … Read More

Stemming illegal trade vital to saving the world’s wildlife, says TRAFFIC

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Media Release | 12 February 2014, New Delhi

The London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade that takes place from 12-13 February, is an opportunity for governments to commit to finally ending the illegal trade in elephants, rhinos, tigers and other endangered wildlife species whose very survival is in crisis due to rampant poaching for illegal trade.

The event is being hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague. The Prince of Wales and his son HRH … Read More

Pangolins: ‘The New Rhinos’

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Few of us know about this animal called the pangolin, or scaly anteater, found in the tropical forests of Africa and Asia, including India. It’s an odd creature, donning an armour – not unlike a knight of the medieval ages. It has a very narrow, long tongue that extends over 15 inches, coated with a gluey substance to enable it to probe nests, mounds and suchlike for ants, termites, etc. that make for its unique insectivorous diet. The pangolin has … Read More

Amur Falcon campaign update — Another migration season begins!

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Campaign Update 30th October 2013

Great news! The peak migration of Amur Falcons is on, and there have been absolutely no killings reported so far! This remarkable outcome has been the result of a full year of painstaking effort from the Nagaland government (especially the forest department), NGO groups, and most importantly, the local communities who were determined to end the killings.

South Asia’s First Integrated Wildlife Law Enforcement Strategy to be Developed in India — TRAFFIC

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TRAFFIC India, in conjunction with CBI and INTERPOL, is conducting a major wildlife law enforcement training in India next week. Officials from eleven countries are attending. See official press release below:

New Delhi: Senior delegates from various enforcement and intelligence agencies of the eight South Asian countries plus China, Russia, and Myanmar will meet next week to develop a cross cutting operational strategy to curb the growing menace of illegal wildlife trade in the region.

The Integrated Investigative Capacity Development … Read More

Heads I Win, Tails you Lose – China’s Tiger Trade

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The focus of this article is the state of our feline friends – the tigers in the heart of East Asia – China. China’s intent in abiding by the laws that prohibit the commercial trade of these endangered species is highly suspect. Contrary to its initial ban on tiger bone trade for medicinal uses in 1993, China is actually encouraging the captive-breeding of tigers as a constant source for the fast expanding and ironically legalized domestic trade in tiger skins. … Read More

Trapped Slow Loris for Sale, Nagaland

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I visited Nagaland for a butterfly and moth survey from 6 to 14 April 2013.

While on the Dimapur – Kohima highway, just before Zubza, there were 3 people on the road holding a long bamboo pole with an animal tied at the end of the pole. We stopped to see what it was and we were shocked to see a Slow Loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) tied with a string trap. We asked him what he was doing with it. He … Read More

Seized Parakeets from Palamu, Jharkhand

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A consignment of over 350 illegally captured Rose-ringed and Plum-headed parakeet chicks was seized by the authorities of Palamau Tiger Reserve in Jharkhand. They were seized while in transit to markets.

The birds are typically captured during the nesting season in February-April and sold at a premium. Tribals capture the chicks from their nests in sal and other tall trees, and traders barter the chicks for as little as a kg of rice. They are then sold for about Rs. … Read More

Joy as migratory Amur Falcon reaches its wintering grounds again in South Africa

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Raptor enthusiasts across the world were overjoyed and relieved to learn that a migratory adult female Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) finally reached her wintering grounds at Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal again on the 10th of January 2013 after an eventful 14,500km journey from the species’ breeding grounds in north-eastern China which started in mid-October last year.

This bird was fitted by Prof. Bernd Meyburg of WWGBP, the World Working Group on Birds of Prey, with a solar-powered satellite transmitter … Read More

Tokay Gecko — The Million-rupee Reptile

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The Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) is one of the largest geckos in the country and the world; at about 15 inches the males are gigantic! This is a nocturnal arboreal gecko, ranging from northeast India, to Nepal and Bangladesh, throughout Southeast Asia, Philippines to Indonesia and western New Guinea. They are very colourful lizards too.

Occurring in the rainforests, it is primarily a tree-dweller. However, they have adapted well to human habitations where they can be seen on … Read More

Turtle and Terrapin Trade Busted in Raichur, Karnataka

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Forest officials along with Mr. Santosh Martin, Honorary Wildlife Warden of Bellary, raided and arrested several people in the notorious wildlife trading markets of Bengali camp number 2 in Sindh Anur taluk of Raichur district, who were poaching and selling hundreds of turtles and terrapins.

Martin informed Karnataka PCCF (Wildlife) Mr. Deepak Sarmah along with photographs of the thriving wildlife market and the PCCF initiated immediate action. Ms. Radha Devi, CCF Gulbarga and Mr Chakrapani, DFO Raichur sent forest officials … Read More

TRAFFIC’s latest study “Illuminating the Blind Spot”: A study on illegal trade in Leopard parts in India

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New Delhi, India, 28th September 2012 — At least four Leopards have been poached and their body parts entered into illegal wildlife trade every week for at least 10 years in India, according to TRAFFIC’s latest study “Illuminating the Blind Spot: A study on illegal trade in Leopard parts in India” launched today by Dr Divyabhanusinh Chavda, President, WWF-India.

The study documents a total of 420 seizures of Leopard skins, bones and other body parts reported from 209 localities in … Read More

Between Flood Waters and a Poacher’s Gun

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We were in Kaziranga to document the July 2012 floods. Rhinos escaping the rising waters of the Brahmaputra, seek shelter in the Karbi Hills to the South. This is where poachers lie in wait.

We saw this poached rhino in a pool of blood, with its horn cut off. The forest department estimates that during floods, about 100 rhinos try to escape to fringe areas like Haldibari, Kanchanjuri, and Panbari. The department attempts to round up and drive back rhinos … Read More

Two Loris rescued from wildlife smugglers in Delhi airport

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Two Loris – small, nocturnal primates endangered by global illegal poaching – were rescued from the Delhi airport on September 9, 2012. They were being smuggled in the underwear of two men!

“Our Wildlife helpline received a call about two loris confiscated by Delhi International Airport CISF security personnel. When the animals reached us, they were quite traumatized from having been stuffed into socks and then strapped to the smuggler’s underpants as he tried to sneak them past customs in … Read More

Q: Hi, a lot of temples in Tamil Nadu sell peacock feathers. I would like to know how one would visually differentiate between a plucked feather and a naturally-shedded feather.

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Answer from Shekar Dattatri, Conservation India:

Based on years of experience as a once-upon-a-time bird keeper and pigeon fancier, I have to say that it is virtually impossible to definitively differentiate between a plucked feather and a naturally-shed feather through visual inspection. When a wing or tail feather that is still in its growth stage is plucked from a bird, some blood will be evident within the lower hollow tube of the quill, or central shaft. However, when a … Read More