A proposal mooted by the Kudumbasree Mission to ship 300 live goats of a native breed to Australia has run into rough weather, with the National Biodiversity Authority calling for a report from the Kerala State Biodiversity Board and an NGO voicing concern over the violation of the biodiversity rules governing export of animals.

The Kerala Livestock Development Board has also expressed concern over the impact of the export proposal on the scientific propagation of the species.

The NBA was alerted to the issue by the Campaign for Conservation and Community Control over Biodiversity, an NGO based in Noida, UP, after reports on the proposal surfaced in a section of the media. Leader of the campaign Shalini Bhutani had written to the chairman of the authority, urging him to inquire into the issue.

The proposal involves the export of 300 live goats of the Malabari breed endemic to the northern districts of Kerala. According to Kudumbasree officials, the pure breed had caught the attention of an Australian agency specialising in veterinary research, following the success of the Goats Village initiative involving women farmers in Kannur.

The Malabari goat is known to be a hardy species adapted to hot, humid climatic conditions. The Kudumbasree district mission in Kannur had announced that the first batch would be shipped by March.

Dr.K.P.Laladhas, member secretary, KSBB said the board had received a communication from NBA seeking information on the proposal. He said KSBB was looking into whether the export involved a violation of the Biological Diversity Act.

According to the Biological Diversity Act 2002, no person shall, without previous approval of the National Biodiversity Authority, obtain any biological resources occurring in India or knowledge associated thereto for research or for commercial utilization for bio-survey and bio-utilization.

Dr.R.V.Varma, Chairman, KSBB who is attending a meeting of NBA in Chennai, said the board would collect details of the proposal and report to NBA. “The authority is the only agency empowered to intervene and check violation of biodiversity rules governing export. They can alert ports to stop shipment or impose fine for unauthorised export”.

However, Sarada Muraleedharan, executive director, Kudumbasree Mission said the export proposal had not been taken up for processing. “We have received inquiries from Australia and Dubai for export of the goats. But no decision has been taken so far. No agreement has been signed and no money has changed hands”.

She said Kudumbasree would go through all the mandatory procedures and necessary clearances if it decided to go ahead with the export proposal. “There is no question of bypassing the laws”. She added that Kudumbasree had played a key role in propagating the breed through women entrepreneurs.

Ani.S.Das, managing director, KLDB said it would not be prudent to export the breed at a time when efforts were on to propagate it in Kerala. “It would lead to depletion of the existing population and trigger an artificial scarcity of the breed, benefiting unscrupulous middlemen”.

KLDB, with support from the Central Government, is implementing a scientific conservation programme for the Malabari goat to enhance its population and improve livestock quality. The selective breeding programme involves superovulation and embryo transfer technologies.