Three kangaroos were recently spotted roadside by villagers in eastern India before being transported to a wildlife park for treatment. One had perished.
How did three iconic native Australian animals come to be in such dire straits so far from home?
Local authorities suggest that the kangaroos likely originated from a private breeding facility in southeast Asia but were abandoned while in transit once officers commenced an anti-smuggling operation. It is reported that the chief warden of West Bengal had received a tip-off indicating wildlife were being smuggled into the state and was quick to respond, resulting in mass vehicle searches. Further kangaroo sightings have been reported in the weeks since.
JGI Global’s wildlife trafficking expert and JGI Australia Board Director, Zara Bending, shared her thoughts on the seizure:
“It’s heart-wrenching to see any animal in a state of fear or confusion, let alone one of our much-loved national animals. Like many parts of the world, the market for exotic pets is booming in India as a sign of status and they’ve tried to get a handle on the range of non-native and exotic species in the country by enacting a voluntary disclosure scheme in 2020.
Kangaroos were among the species identified in the 32, 645 disclosure applications listing exotic pets received by early 2021.
Having data is important, but local laws only criminalise the smuggling of species rather than their possession. So, once animals are in the country it’s simply a case of claiming they were bred domestically in captivity. There needs to be effective legislation aimed to monitor not just what is in the country but the conditions in which animals are being kept, including those bred in private collections. We have grave concerns for public health due to the risk of zoonoses, the involvement of organised crime, as well as for the welfare of animals involved.”
Australia is a biodiversity hotspot boasting species of flora and fauna that cannot be found elsewhere on Earth. In addition to marsupials including kangaroos and gliders, native Australian birdlife (notably parrots), reptiles (including turtles, lizards, and snakes), and spiders can find themselves smuggled overseas to meet the demands of the exotic pet trade. There are even markets for bird and reptile eggs.
But it’s important to know that the illegal wildlife trade doesn’t just affect animals. In fact, medicinal plants formed a large quantity of the more than 7,000 recorded wildlife seizures related to Australia between 1999-2014, as reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
What can you do?
As part of the Jane Goodall Institute Global’s ForeverWild campaign, we are asking all our followers to join us in the fight to end wildlife crime.
If you have any information that you suspect may be related to the illegal capture, importation, breeding, advertising, or sale of wildlife please alert Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or by visiting www.crimestoppers.com.au
Report suspicious online content or advertisements by following our global ‘report harmful content’ recommendations.
Download and make reports through ‘Wildlife Witness’- an app co-designed by Taronga Zoo and TRAFFIC. This allows tourists and locals to report wildlife trade by taking a photo, pinning the exact location of an incident and sending that intel to TRAFFIC for follow-up.
JGIA Board Director