TRAFFIC warns against buying illegal wildlife products
DON’T BUY TROUBLE!New Delhi – Four new posters under the campaign- Don’t Buy Trouble- have been released by TRAFFIC and WWF-India appealing for curbing illegal wildlife trade in some of the most traded wildlife species in India. The message – In danger of becoming just words in history. Don’t let their future be just a memory – comes with a clear warning against buying illegal wildlife products.
These posters are part of the third phase of TRAFFIC’s Don’t Buy Trouble campaign, the organization’s long running awareness campaign to stop poaching and illegal wildlife trade in India.
The four attractive posters highlight the threats to some of India’s most heavily poached and trafficked wildlife species – Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Greater One-horned Rhino Rhinoceros unicornis, Black Spotted Turtle Geoclemys hamiltonii and pangolins Manis spp. All of these are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972, that prohibits poaching, trade and any other forms of utilization of these wildlife species or their parts and derivatives.
The Asian Elephant was once widely distributed throughout the country, including in States such as Punjab and Gujarat. Currently, it is found in only 14 States, in four fragmented populations in South, North, Central and North-east India. It is killed both for revenge, often because of attacks on crops, and for its tusks, used to make bangles, rings, name seals (known as hanko in Japan), statues, chess pieces and many other items. Large numbers of Elephants become victim to poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Similarly, the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros is targeted for its horn that is smuggled out of the country mainly for use as a status symbol “tonic” in Vietnam. Historically, rhino horn has also been used to make dagger handles called Jambias/Khanjars in the Middle East, particularly Yemen.
The pangolin, a lesser known wildlife species is a nocturnal, shy animal that lives in burrows. There are two species of pangolins found in India – Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata and Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla. Today, pangolins are among one of the most trafficked wildlife species globally. Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy and a tonic food while its scales are used as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicines.
In India, large numbers of turtles and tortoises are also illegally caught in the wild and smuggled to pet trade markets in India and elsewhere in Asia. Turtles and tortoises are also traded for their meat, falsely considered a tonic food, and also served as a delicacy in India and other countries. Some of the commonly traded turtle and tortoise species include the Black Spotted Turtle, Indian Star Tortoise Geochelone elegans, Gangetic Softshell Turtle Nilssonia gangetica , Indian Flapshell Turtle Lissemys punctata , and the Indian Tent Turtle Pangshura tentoria.
Targeted at domestic and foreign tourists and other potential buyers of wildlife products, the Don’t Buy Trouble posters send a clear message that it is not only the poacher or trader of endangered wildlife who are liable for punishment under India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, but also those who purchase and use such items. Ignorance of the law should not be considered an excuse.
Dipankar Ghose, Director - Species & Landscapes Conservation Programme, WWF-India says, “Illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest global crime and an organized activity. While enforcement initiatives need to be strengthened to keep up with the ever-evolving nature of this criminal activity, awareness too needs to be generated among the consumers about this issue. If demand is curtailed, poaching and illegal trade will stop eventually”.
“Making consumers aware about illegal wildlife trade and garnering their support is crucial to addressing this problem. It is important that buyers understand the gravity of the threat and support the fight against wildlife crime by refusing to purchase or acquire illegal wildlife products. The Don’t Buy Trouble campaign is a step in this direction”, he further adds.
The “Don’t Buy Trouble” campaign has been running successfully at airports, hotels/resorts, wildlife reserves and other significant hotspots through hoardings, posters, films, and leaflets. It has received tremendous support and responses from various audiences since its launch in 2008 and has been crucial towards spreading awareness about this important cause amongst people from all walks of life.
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