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Activists seek ban on caging of wild birds in Odisha

The recent case of Coco, a pet parakeet, seized from Cuttack city from the house of a senior academician illustrates the misconception and the wrong attitude of the public. In fact, the seizure was followed up by a sustained public campaign over social media and other media to force the department to return the bird to the owner.

Statesman News Service | Bhubaneswar |

Activists have called for a blanket ban on the pernicious practice of keeping wild avian species as pets widely prevalent in Odisha.

“Small animals and birds like Parakeets and Mongoose are illegally sold in the market and are purchased in large numbers by many people and kept as pets. According to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it is illegal to keep as pets any animal or bird that is listed in the Schedules to this Act since they are “protected species”. These laws exist because wild animals have special needs and it is difficult to keep them healthy and alive in captivity unlike domesticated cats and dogs”, Biswajit Mohanty, Secretary, Wildlife Society of Orissa, urged the Chief Wildlife Warden, Odisha, in a letter.

The recent case of Coco, a pet parakeet, seized from Cuttack city from the house of a senior academician illustrates the misconception and the wrong attitude of the public. In fact, the seizure was followed up by a sustained public campaign over social media and other media to force the department to return the bird to the owner.

Instead of initiating action to stop this misinformation and illegal practice, the Forest Department has ignored this for years which has led to the continuing unsavoury practice in Odisha, Mohanty wrote seeking the launch of a sustained awareness campaign in this regard.

  Many people including educated sections of society are not afraid to imprison such species as pets in Odisha. This has resulted in a thriving wild pet trade since wildlife traders have an incentive to smuggle and sell them in the open market. Poachers often steal chicks of Parakeets, peafowl, hill mynahs for the illegal trade. At least 60 % of the specimens die in the process, he maintained.

The Forest Department ought to sensitize the people that buying or keeping wild species as pets is illegal and attract penalties by way of prison by virtue of their protected status under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.  It is necessary to remove the vast ignorance about the provisions of law.

In the event, anybody finds or rescues an injured specimen or it flies or enters their house they should promptly inform the State Wildlife Wing Headquarters Toll-Free number within 24 hours so that it can be rescued by trained forest officials. The department may first seek voluntary handing over of such wild pets which may be rehabilitated in the wild if possible or otherwise kept in a wildlife rescue centre.

Since parakeets are the most sought-after pet among others like Hill Myna, Peacock, etc, the forest department ought to have rescue aviaries across Odisha for the rehabilitation of the rescued/seized birds.

Steps should be taken to re-wild and then release them back into the wild. These aviaries can be operated in partnership with animal welfare non-government organizations with expertise to handle rehabilitation of this nature, he concluded.