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WWF, UNEP to support airport officials to prevent wildlife smuggling through TN airports

- April 1, 2022

Chennai, April 1 (BPNS)

The World Wild Life Fund for Nature( WWF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is providing officials at Chennai airports with capacity-building tools to prevent the smuggling of wildlife.

TRAFFIC, an arm of WWF has conducted a recent study in which it found that a high incidence of wildlife smuggling was taking place through airports in Tamil Nadu with special focus on Chennai International airport.

According to officials of TRAFFIC, the unprecedented increase in wildlife smuggling was due to the growth in the aviation sector and smooth transit of several rare species are moved through the airports to global destinations.

The study by the United Nations agencies also revealed that India is among the top 10 countries in the world whose airline sector is used for smuggling of wildlife.

Black Pond turtle and Star turtle are among the most smuggled wildlife in the country and this is being smuggled out mainly through Chennai airport.

The Tamil Nadu Wild Life department has in a raid conducted at Tiruvallur district of the state bordering Andhra Pradesh found private farms that were rearing star tortoises. Each star tortoises fetch an amount of Rs 25000 in the international market and recently a consignment of 3000 start tortoises worth around Rs 7.5 crore was seized from Chennai airport.

A highly placed officer in the Tamil Nadu Wildlife department while speaking to BPNS said, “ Most of these smuggled tortoises are collected from the Palamnar forests in Chitoor, Andhra Pradesh and some police officials are supporting their smuggling from airports.”

With the WWF and UNEP providing software and capacity-building tools to law enforcement officers at Chennai airport, the chances of blocking the smuggling of these rare species of start tortoises and black pond tortoises can be executed.

It may be noted that the International Union for Conservation of Natural Flaura and Fauna (IUCN) has categorized these tortoises as ‘Vulnerable’. A proposal to bring the star tortoise under the Schedule 1 of the Wild Life Protection Act from the present Schedule IV has been suggested by the IUCN to the Government of India.

The capacity-building tools provided by the WWF and UNEP will help the law enforcement agencies at Chennai and other vulnerable airports in Tamil Nadu to help prevent the smuggling of wildlife.