By Karishma Goenka
Three protected birds were rescued from a wildlife trader after two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) laid a trap on Wednesday.
People For Animals (PFA) and Ahimsa with the Bandra police rescued a barn owl, a kite and a falcon by using a decoy customer to buy the birds from one Shahad Amir Achua through his aide Shakir Khan.
The decoy customer and Achua were in touch through WhatsApp. “Shakir (Achua’s assistant) had agreed to sell me a barn owl, a black kite and a falcon for Rs35,000. He met me outside Mehboob Studio in Bandra around 5pm. He had the three birds in a white plastic bag and he showed them to me,” said the decoy customer, requesting anonymity.
Soon after he showed the birds, the police were alerted and they swooped in. They arrested Shakir. The Bandra police has filed an FIR against Achua and Shakir.
All three birds are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. This makes it illegal to catch, keep, kill, buy/sell birds or damage their nests. Even though India’s massive range of avian and mammalian species is protected under appropriate laws, they are rarely enforced. This leads to a steady rise in the illegal wildlife trade. The NGOs also have the WhatsApp conversation between the decoy customer and Achua in which he has admitted to selling protected snakes like cobras and boas.
“The illegal trade runs like a machine. They were selling the birds for Rs35,000. This is only one of the deals they have in a day. The business is so lucrative that culprits are not deterred by spending a few days in jail. India needs a zero-tolerance policy against wildlife crimes. We also need more rescue centres for such birds,” said Poonam Mahajan of People for Animals.
The accused have been booked under sections 9, 31, 40 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act and section 11 of Animal Cruelty Act. The two NGOs also rescued 12 parrots during a raid at Crawford market on Wednesday.