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WCS-India conducts two day symposium on “Illegal Wildlife Trade: Key Challenges and Opportunities”

The aim of this symposium is to encourage open dialogue on illegal wildlife hunting and trade............

BENGALURU-  Experts, including individuals from leading conservation organizations, are meeting in Bengaluru on Monday  as a part of an ongoing hybrid symposium to encourage an open dialogue on illegal wildlife trade and hunting in India.

The hybrid symposium, “Illegal Wildlife Trade: Key Challenges and Opportunities”, was conducted both online and at Bengaluru, Karnataka, and is being hosted by Wildlife Conservation Society-India, an organisation working across 20 states in India.

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Individuals from various organizations, including Aaranyak, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS), Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Panthera, RAWW, RESQ Charitable Trust, Satpuda Foundation, Creative Nature Friends, The Corbett Foundation, Tamenglong Animals Home, Turtle Survival Alliance – India, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Wildlife Conservation Society – India (WCS- India), Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), World Animal Protection, Zoo Outreach, are participating in this hybrid symposium. Pre-event deliberations that began last week included discussions on the emerging key concerns that India needs to address urgently with regard to illegal wildlife hunting and trade.

The aim of this symposium is to encourage open dialogue on illegal wildlife hunting and trade (IWHT), develop a collective understanding of pressing issues, challenges, and possible opportunities to combat it, and facilitate collaborations, informed WCS-India in a release this evening.

Uttara Mendiratta, Program Head, Counter Wildlife Trafficking program of Wildlife Conservation Society-India says, “We believe that combating illegal wildlife hunting and trade requires a interdisciplinary, pan-Indian, and inclusive understanding of threats, challenges, and evidence-based solutions. We hope that this symposium will be an important step in that direction”.

Illegal wildlife hunting and trade also poses the threat of spread of zoonotic diseases and further loss in keystone endangered species like the tiger, pangolin and the rhino due to demand in international markets.

An array of other lesser known groups like tarantulas, butterflies, tortoises and freshwater turtles and tortoises, snakes and primates are also increasingly coming under threat due to a rise in demand as pets and in black magic in India, which is now seen as a source as well as a market for such trade.

Issues that are likely to be discussed in this symposium include the rapid organised and online nature of IWHT in India, the role of conservation NGOs, use of new and evolved techniques for curbing the trade including behaviour change and  ways to strengthen the enforcement agencies to counter the complex nature of this trade.

The symposium also aims to address the overarching themes of drivers and motivations for IWHT, stakeholders to counter IWHT and various approaches to tackle IWHT. This will culminate in a report on the inputs and recommendations of the participants of the symposium.

Muthanna P M, Program Head, Livelihood Support said: “In the backdrop of the World Wildlife day celebrated on 3rdMarch which has its United Nations mandate of collaborations and partnerships, Wildlife Conservation Society-India’s efforts to provide this platform will go a long way in paving a planned course of action to counter IWHT in India.”

Participating in the symposium Kishor Rithe, former member of standing Committee of NBWL, founder, Satpuda Foundation, Hon. Secretary BNHS, said,  “Wildlife poaching and trade is a most serious threat to the wildlife habitats in India. However, the lesser known species occupied a prime place in the illegal wildlife trade market. Wildlife Conservation Society-India has rightly identified the gap and started addressing this most important issue”. “This symposium will help the Govt of India and State Forest departments to provide the support from a trained network of individuals and NGOs to deal with this subject systematically”, added Rithe.

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