CITES Current Affairs - 2019
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Ahead of International Day of Biological Diversity (celebrated on 22 May), an awareness campaign was launched by the name of ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ to be displayed at major airports across India.
Key Highlights about Campaign
- To raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade
- To garner public support for conservation and protection of wildlife, prevention from smuggling and for reduction in demand of wildlife products.
- It also complements worldwide action taken on illegal trade in wildlife via UN Environment’s global campaign called Wild for Life.
- Launched By: United Nation (UN) Environment India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India. Both WCCB and UN Environment started a comprehensive approach with focus on awareness building towards issue of prevention of illegal trade, smuggling of wildlife (and wildlife products) through exit points.
- Inauguration: Campaign was inaugurated by Dia Mirza, the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador (and also UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate), in presence of officials from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India (WCCB), UN Environment, UN agencies and GMR Group.
- Coverage: In collaboration with Airports Authority of India (AAI) and GMR Group, the campaign is set to travel across 22 airports across India over the next year.
- Need: Illegal wildlife trade drives a species to brink of extinction. With a thriving organized wildlife crime industry, the crime chains are spreading across world and India is also seeing a sharp rise in its illegal trade in wildlife. Thus there is an urgent need for awareness, action and stringent law enforcement to curb illegal wildlife trade which is threatening biodiversity and conservation in wild.
- Importance: Conservation is natural to India’s ethos. Although, while wildlife faces global threat and India’s flora and fauna’s demand continues to rise in illegal global markets, India’s stringent provisions for protection of wildlife under its Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, and efforts towards creating awareness among public at large would still have to go a long way to help protect our wildlife. Thus, campaign is an important step forward in creating much-needed awareness and regaining public attention on wildlife trafficking which threatens very survival of these species.
- Species covered: In First Phase of the campaign, Tiger, Star Tortoise, Pangolin and Tokay Gecko are featured. They have been chosen as they are highly endangered because of illegal trading in International markets. Second Phase will see more threatened species.
- Tiger is trafficked for its skin, body parts and bones.
- Pangolin, is most illegally traded wild mammal on the planet. It is trafficked for its meat and for its scales which are used in traditional medicines.
- Star Tortoise is trafficked for pet trade and meat.
- Tokay Gecko is trafficked for its use in traditional medicine, mostly into South East Asia (SEA) but mainly Chinese Markets.
About Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)
- WCCB is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by Government of India (GoI) under Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), to combat organized wildlife crime in India.
- It assists Customs authorities in inspection of consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions laid down in Wild Life Protection Act (WPA), 1972, (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Export-import (EXIM) Policy governing such an item.
Tags: AAI and GMR Group • Airports Authority of India • CITES • Dia Mirza • Forest and Climate Change • Ministry of Environment • Pangolin • Star Tortoise • Tiger • Tokay Gecko • UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador • United Nation Environment India • WCCB • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau • Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 1972
The scientists from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s (CSIR)-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, for the first time sequenced the entire genome of Asiatic lion.
Key Highlights of Study
- The population of Asiatic lion, an endangered species is very low. At present only 523 animals are found in the Gir forests in Gujarat.
- Need for Conservation: The study of genomes unraveled evolutionary history of Asiatic lion. It noted that evaluation of genetic diversity (i.e. the total number of genetic characteristics of a species which serves as a way for populations to adapt to changing environments) placed Asiatic lion in lowest bracket of genomic diversity index which highlights the gravity of its conservation status.
- Multi-Pronged Approach: As per scientist for conservation of Asiatic lions it is crucial to adopt a multi-pronged approach. Therefore, genome study which will identifying characteristics which are specific to Asiatic lions will enable better population and disease management of endangered big cat.
- Importance: The genome sequencing of Asiatic lions would enable scientists to better understand their evolution. With better understanding they can develop specific markers to study Asiatic lion’s population genetics (it means the differences at gene level within a population) and can further get newer insights into their population status and subsequent management.
- Significance: Until now only partial genomic information of African lion is available. Therefore a comparative genomics between both African lion and Asiatic lions can only be undertaken once complete genome of African lion is sequenced. Therefore, once complete genome of African Cheetah, Royal Bengal tiger, and Jaguar will be available, the comparative studies of all these big cats would be possible.
- This signifies that final objective of scientists is to understand species at DNA level and study that if there are any specific problems with regard to adaptability of Asiatic Lion to environment or behaviour vis-à-vis other big cats.
About Asiatic Lion
- They are also known as Indian Lion, and Scientific Name is Panthera Leo Persica.
- IUCN Red List Status: Endangered
- They are also Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- At present the only home of Asiatic lion is Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
- Threats: Asiatic lion presently exists as a single sub-population. They are vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, like epidemic or large forest fire and in recent years poaching incidents were also indicated.
Tags: African Cheetah • Asiatic lions • CCMB • Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology • CITES • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species • Council of Scientific & Industrial Research • CSIR • Genome Sequencing • Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary • Gujarat • Indian Lion • IUCN Red List Status • Panthera Leo Persica • Royal Bengal tiger • Wildlife Protection Act 1972