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India Revises Wildlife Trade Rules After 40 Years, Raising Conservation Concerns

India has recently overhauled its rules on wildlife trade after four decades, with the Union environment ministry issuing a notification titled “Wild Life (Protection) Licencing (Additional Matters for Consideration) Rules, 2024.” The revised guidelines provide considerations for granting licenses for dealing in captive animals, snake venom, trophy animals, and stuffed animals.

Key Changes and Concerns: A significant alteration is the exclusion of some species from licensing restrictions, raising concerns among conservationists. Previously, licenses for trading in wild animals specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, required consultation with the central government. However, the new guidelines state that licenses related to animals in Schedule I can be granted only with the previous consultation of the Central Government, omitting the licensing restriction for Schedule II species.

Ambiguities and Conservation Implications: The notification lacks clarity on why the licensing restrictions for Schedule II species have been lifted. Conservationists point out that Schedule II still includes crucial species of mammals, birds, turtles, geckos, snakes, and frogs. The schedules were recently rationalized in a 2022 amendment, raising questions about whether these species have increased in numbers and no longer require the same level of protection.

Pet Trade and Trafficking Concerns: The pet trade, both domestically and internationally, contributes significantly to wildlife trafficking. The amendment aims to address this issue, but concerns remain about the impact on species listed in Schedule II and the potential consequences for conservation efforts.


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