The Indian government might be doing a good job protecting famously endangered animals, such as rhinos and tigers, but this is leaving lesser-known wildlife as an easy target.
Creatures such as the pangolin — a type of scaly anteater — and the star tortoise — which is commonly kept as a pet — are being targeted by poachers to the point where they’re seriously threatened with extinction.
The problem is that there aren’t harsh enough punishments for anyone caught poaching or smuggling these less famous animals, so some more people are willing to take the risk. Belinda Wright, director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, recently told the Huffington Post, “The problem is that we were turning a blind eye to all lesser-known species and suddenly this very lucrative trade has been allowed to explode.”
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has even given the pangolin the dubious honor of being named the most traded wild mammal. Sadly for these shy, nocturnal creatures, their flesh is a delicacy in China and some other parts of Asia, and their scales are used in traditional medicine, despite being made simply of keratin and having no known medicinal benefits.
In 2013, there were 320 confirmed seizures by Indian customs of pangolins and 3,000 confirmed seizures of star tortoises. However, it is thought that confirmed seizures make up roughly only 10 percent of the total illegal trade in wildlife.
It’s time for India to up its game and declare stricter laws on the poaching of all animals within its borders.
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