Exotic pets


Supreme Court upheld an Allahabad High Court order granting immunity from investigation and prosecution if one declared illegal acquisition or possession of exotic wildlife species between June and December.

  • This was under a new amnesty scheme announced by the Centre.
  • The stock of exotic species and submits to registration under the amnesty scheme, shall have immunity from any inquiry into the source of licit acquisition or possession of the voluntarily declared stock of exotic species.


Government’s voluntary disclosure scheme

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has come out with an advisory on a one-time voluntary disclosure scheme that allows owners of exotic live species that have been acquired illegally, or without documents, to declare their stock to the government between June and December 2020. 
  • With this scheme, the government aims to address the challenge of zoonotic diseases, develop an inventory of exotic live species for better compliance under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and regulate their import. 
  • In its current form, however, the amnesty scheme is just an advisory, not a law.


Exotic wildlife is covered:

  • The advisory has defined exotic live species as animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the CITES. It does not include species from the Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972
  • So, a plain reading of the advisory excludes exotic birds from the amnesty scheme.
  • Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) will have to issue an online certificate of possession of exotic live species within six months of the date of the voluntary disclosure.
  • After the registration, it is mandatory for the owner to allow the CWLW with free access to the exotic species declared on any day for verification.
  • The scheme has also specified guidelines for surrender of such animals to a recognised zoo.
  • The owner will also have to provide the details of the species acquired, their numbers, and the address of the facility where they are housed.
  • The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which enforces anti-smuggling laws, says India has emerged as a big demand centre for exotic birds and animals with an increase in smuggling of endangered species from different parts of the world. 
  • Most of this exotic wildlife is imported through Illegal channels and then sold in the domestic market as pets.
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