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Wildlife & Biodiversity

Wildlife & Biodiversity

The cost of wildlife exploitation

NEW DELHI: Wildlife trade has become big business and the subsequent exploitation of wild animals puts our health, economies and biodiversity at risk, says World Animal Protection as they launch a campaign today targeting G20 leaders to support a permanent wildlife trade ban to protect wildlife and prevent future zoonotic pandemics.
As part of the campaign, international animal welfare charity, World Animal Protection is asking the Prime Minister of India, who will represent the country at the G20 summit, to support the call for a global ban on wildlife trade forever.
Covid-19 is one of the worst pandemics of animal origin that we have faced in a century. But the charity believes it won’t be the last, unless we urgently ban all commercial trade of wild animals globally.
Businesses are placing profit, estimated between USD 7-23 billion a year, over the health and welfare of both people and animals. The multi-billion-dollar trade in wild animals takes animals from their natural environments or commercially farms them, exposing them to stress and cruelty creating a hotbed for disease. As we have seen with COVID-19, these diseases can then be transferred to humans.
The main reason for the industrial scale commodification of wildlife is public demand for wild animals as food, traditional medicine, exotic pets, entertainment and fashion accessories.
World Animal Protection has been campaigning for many years to shift social attitudes and change industry practice to stop the exploitation of wild animals for the following uses:
Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM)
The demand for traditional medicine has devastating consequences for many species of wildlife traded globally, including bears that are poached and farmed for their bile.
The cruelty and poor conditions these bears suffer on farms leaves them susceptible to diseases which can then be transferred to people in close proximity. This risk to public health from the intensive farming of bears, and many other wildlife species, can be eradicated with a comprehensive wildlife trade ban.
TAM has an estimated value of USD 60 billion a year, and thought to account for nearly 30 per cent of China’s pharmaceutical revenue.
Exotic pets
Each year, millions of wild animals are captured from their natural habitats and bred in cruel captive conditions to be traded around the world as pets. Snakes, parrots, iguanas, lizards, tortoises, and even otters – these are just some of the wildlife species suffering as pets around the world.
Wild animals in the tourist industry
The growth of global tourism has driven the trade of tens of thousands of wild animals to be used for entertainment where they are being beaten, chained and abused.
The animals caught up in this cruel industry have often been legally traded or captive bred and spend many hours a day in close proximity to humans, increasing the potential spread of zoonoses.
“Cruel multi-billion-dollar businesses have been exploiting wild animals on an industrial global scale and we are now all seeing the true cost of that. This pandemic isn’t just about wild animals being sold for food. It’s much bigger than that, it’s about greed and the commodification of wild animals at every level. If we learn anything from this situation, it is that we need to leave wild animals where they belong, in the wild. We all have a responsibility to make a shift in our behaviour and attitudes towards animals that could save the lives of millions of people, animals and our economies. Some measures are being taken at national level, but there is a need for a coordinated global action. We urgently need to persuade the G20 to take steps towards implementing a global wildlife ban to protect us from future pandemics,” said Steve McIvor, CEO at World Animal Protection.
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has been a vocal advocate of wildlife conservation and has repeatedly called for compassion towards animals.
In this address to the nation after announcing the lockdown, the Prime Minister had urged all citizens to care for animals around them.
“The need for a global ban on wildlife trade is urgent and extremely important. What we are witnessing with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is the result of human exploiting wild animals for their gains. This must stop now. The Prime Minister of India understands the importance of wildlife preservation and has supported animal welfare issues in the past. Now as he prepares to represent India at the G20 summit, we appeal to Narendra Modi to give his support to the call for an end to wildlife trade forever,” said Gajender K Sharma, Country Director, World Animal Protection India.
World Animal Protection has a strong track record of supporting local communities to transition away from incomes based on wildlife cruelty.
It’s urgent that we come together now to implement to a comprehensive wildlife trade ban to eliminate the threats of future pandemics to our health and economies.
Join us and ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to support the call for an end to global trade of wild animals.
This story is provided by NewsVoir

Wildlife & Biodiversity

Wild boars die in Arunachal as African swine fever kills 15,000 pigs in Assam

As Assam prepares for mass culling to check the spread of African swine fever (ASF) that has killed almost 15,000 domesticated pigs, adjoining Arunachal Pradesh fears that the “foreign” disease may have “gone wild”.

This is the first time that ASF has been reported in India. Assam claims the disease came from China, where almost 60% of pigs have died since 2018.

Officials in Arunachal Pradesh’s East Siang district said six carcases of wild boars, including three piglets, were found in a community forest at Lidor Soyit upstream of Sille River. The spot is about 25 km from district headquarters Pasighat.

There have been unverified reports of several wild boars dying from an unknown disease in East Siang and Upper Siang districts, but the recovery of the carcasses — some partly eaten by scavengers — on Thursday made officials wary of the possibility of ASF having spread from scores of domestic pigs that have died in the State over the last two months.

“A team of forest, veterinary officials and experts trekked about 10 km to locate the carcasses after receiving information from the villages. We suspect ASF is the cause of death, but will have to await confirmation after we send blood and tissue samples to labs outside,” Divisional Forest Officer (Territorial) Tashi Mize told The Hindu on Friday.

Some of the carcasses appeared to have been consumed by porcupines. “ASF is confined to porcine creatures, so other animals are unlikely to be affected. But the possibility of becoming carriers of the virus could affect the wild boar population,” he said.

While veterinary officials have advised culling of domesticated pigs in the affected areas, the Forest Department has identified critical areas and advised villagers not to hunt wild boars and consume their meat.

Assam seeks help
The Assam government as sought a financial package of ₹144 crore from the Centre for compensating pig farmers who have lost their only source of income.

“The situation is turning grim with AFS spreading from six to 10 of Assam’s 33 districts and killing 14,919 pigs despite having taken all possible preventive measures. We are discussing other options,” State Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister Atul Bora said.

These measures include culling, which the State government was initially reluctant to undertake.

The Veterinary and Forest Departments also got together to dig trenches on the periphery of wildlife reserve, specifically the Kaziranga National Park that houses an estimated 15,000 wild boars, to stop them from coming in contact with domestic pigs reared in adjoining villages.

Officials say there is no cure for ASF, which kills almost 100% of the pigs it strikes.

Wildlife & Biodiversity

New species of urban lizard found in Guwahati

The bent-toed gecko, named Cyrtodactylus urbanus, was earlier thought to be same as the Khasi Hills lizard

Guwahati, the largest city in the Northeast, has yielded a new species of lizard – the urban bent-toed gecko.

Markedly different

Jayaditya Purkayastha and Madhurima Das, two of the five herpetologists and researchers who made the discovery, had teamed up with four others to be the first to record the brown blotched Bengal tree frog from urban West Bengal last year.

The new species of lizard, zoologically named Cyrtodactylus urbanus, is markedly different in molecular structure, blotch and colour from the Cyrtodactylus guwahatiensis, or the Guwahati bent-toed gecko, that was discovered two years ago.

The new species of lizard, Cyrtodactylus urbanus.Cyrtodactylus urbanus.

The study on the urban bent-toed gecko has been published in the latest edition of Zootaxa, a peer-reviewed scientific mega journal for animal taxonomists. Apart from Mr. Purkayastha and Ms. Das, the study was co-authored by Sanath Chandra Bohra, Mumbai-based Ishan Agarwal and Aaron M. Bauer, a global authority on geckos based in Pennsylvania, U.S.

“All bent-toed geckos in Northeast India were thought to be a single species, the Cyrtodactylus khasiensis found primarily in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. Photographs I had taken of the urban bent-toed from the Basistha area of Guwahati in 2011, when compared with other species, made global experts realise it was a different species,” Mr. Purkayastha told The Hindu.

Though the urban bent-toed gecko falls within the khasiensis group, it differs from other members of this group in mitochondrial sequence data as well as aspects of morphology such as the number and arrangement of certain pores in males, the number of mid-ventral scales and colour pattern.

The study on the urban bent-toed gecko also provided additional information on the Guwahati bent-toed gecko, the first of the two Cyrtodactylus endemic to the areas covered by the city and the fourth from Assam.

12th from Northeast

It was also the 12th recorded gecko from the Northeast.

“What this study tries to establish is that some urban spaces too have life forms that are often overlooked but in danger of being wiped out because of concrete development. More studies need to be done before time runs out for such life forms,” Mr. Purkayastha said, adding more than 50% of the species of bent-toed geckos on earth was described in the last decade.

Guwahati is home to 26 species of amphibians, 57 species of reptiles, 214 species of birds and 36 species of mammals. The city provides that edge for urban biodiversity to thrive because it encompasses 18 hills, eight reserve forests, two wildlife sanctuaries and a Ramsar site  besides the Brahmaputra river.(The Hindu)