‘Chinkara killed by poachers’, ‘International Red Sanders, smuggler nabbed’, ‘Poachers caught with endangered turtles’ Do these headlines sound familiar? Illegal wildlife trade has increased tremendously and depleted wildlife reserve in India. After drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, animal trafficking is the fourth-largest crime observed in the world. To avoid wildlife trafficking, we have various laws in place. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Indian Penal Code and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 are put together to protect the wildlife in India.
Illegal wildlife trade in India is prevalent because of many causes. The various products for which these animals are smuggled and killed for are — Hair – Mongoose, Skin – Snake, Horn – Rhino, Claws, Bones, Skin & Whiskers – Tiger, Leopard and Cheetah, Tusks – Elephants, and many more. Here are these 5 animals that you’ll be surprised to know are the most trafficked in India.
This animal is one of the most trafficked species. The pangolin’s scales protect it from wild and adverse climatic conditions. The animal is poached and trafficked for the scales, meat, and the flesh. In China, the flesh and the blood of this animal is considered as a cuisine. Pangolins are insectivorous, so they eat insects found beneath the soil, thereby helping in soil irrigation and avoiding infection to farmer’s yields. They are also known for their long claws, which are used to dig the ground thus improving the quality of the soil.
Red Sand Boa (Eryx Johnii)
This snake, commonly known as two-headed snake, is marketed for huge bucks. The Red Boa snake is a non-venomous species and primarily found in the Indian subcontinent. The snake is one of its kind; it can use both the head and its tail to move. Some reckless traders capture these snakes and burn their tails to create markings that resemble eyes and a mouth; making them look double-headed. Poachers receive huge money against the weight of the snake, so they feed mercury or steel ball bearing to increase the weight of the snake. The myth stands that the person who owns the snake is bestowed luck and prosperity.
Tokay Gecko (Gecko gecko)
This animal is predominantly found in the North East India. Tokay Gecko are used for illegal wildlife trade and exported to China. This reptile feeds on the insects and larvae and balances the pest population in the soil. It is a myth that this animal cures ailments such as diabetes, skin diseases, and even AIDS. This reptile is poached because it is considered useful in traditional Chinese medicines.
Bengal Monitor Lizards (Varanus Bengalensis)
Bengal Monitor Lizards are known for their tough skin. This is one of the prime reason why they are killed in large numbers. Their skin is in high demands in many countries such as Thailand, China, Cambodia, Japan, and Myanmar. The reptilian’s tough skin is used to create fancy handbags, purses, and handicrafts. In fact, its flesh and meat is treated as a delicacy in these countries. The reptile (also known as Pest Controller) feeds on rats, grubs, snakes, snails, and beetles, thus helping in ecological balance.
Indian Star Tortoises
The Indian Star Tortoises are used for illegal wildlife trade and have lucrative value in the overseas markets. They are predominantly trafficked for their shells. The shells are used to create beautiful handicrafts and souvenirs. In China, they are considered spiritual, so having a start-shaped turtle as a pet symbolises good omen. Also, these Star Tortoises are killed for their meat.