Not all animals migrate by choice!

Ahead of the International Day of Biological Diversity celebrated on May 22, UN Environment India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India launched an awareness campaign ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ to be displayed at major airports across the country.

Actor and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and recently appointed Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate, Dia Mirza inaugurated the campaign in presence of officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India, UN Environment, UN agencies, and GMR Group.

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The campaign aimed at airports across India.

On this occasion, Secretary of Ministry of Environment, C K Mishra said, “Conservation is innate to India’s ethos. While wildlife faces threat across the globe and India’s flora and fauna’s demand continues in illegal global markets, in keeping with our stringent provisions for protection of wildlife under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, efforts towards creating awareness among public at large would go a long way to help protect our wildlife”.

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Illegal wildlife trade is driving species to the brink of extinction. A thriving industry with organized wildlife crime chains spreading across the world, in India, illegal trade in wildlife has seen a sharp rise. The campaign ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ aims at creating awareness and garnering public support for the protection and conservation of wildlife, prevention of smuggling and reduction in demand for wildlife products.

The campaign also complements worldwide action on illegal trade in wildlife through UN Environment’s global campaign, Wild for Life.

While addressing the campaign, Atul Bagai, Head of UN Environment India said, “There is an urgent need for awareness, action and stringent enforcement of laws to put an end to all illegal wildlife trade threatening biodiversity and conservation in the wild. This campaign is an important step forward in creating much-needed awareness on wildlife trafficking which threatens the very survival of these species”.

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In the first phase of the campaign, Tiger, Pangolin, Star Tortoise and Tokay Gecko have been chosen as they are highly endangered due to illegal trading in International markets.

Tiger is traded for its skin, bones and body parts; Pangolin, the most illegally traded wild mammal on the planet is trafficked for its meat and its scales are used in traditional medicines; Star Tortoise for meat and pet trade and Tokay Gecko in traditional medicine mostly into South East Asia and particularly Chinese Markets. Phase two will see more threatened species and explore other routes of trafficking.

Dia Mirza, Actor and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador & Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate said, “Wildlife trafficking thrives on ignorance and indifference to the species and laws that govern it. This campaign gives a glimpse of the cruelty and suffering these magnificent species have to endure for being trafficked. The need of the hour is greater awareness and commitment to protecting these species to ensure that they not just survive but also thrive in the wild.”

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In collaboration with the Airports Authority of India and GMR Group, the campaign will travel across 22 airports across India over the next year. Both WCCB and UN Environment initiated a comprehensive approach with a focus on awareness building of various stakeholders towards the issue of prevention of illegal trade and smuggling of wildlife and wildlife products through exit points. The awareness campaign is expected to complement the efforts of the Govt. Agencies.

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

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