An advertisement that appeared in Tamil dailies a few days back asked people to trap sparrows (small passerine birds) The reward offered was Rs 1,500 per bird. The advertiser promised to come to the doorstep and collect the sparrows which were meant for export to China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Enquiries reveal that the address in the advertisement, issued by a firm located in Nungambakkam, Chennai, was fake. The phone number listed in the advertisement went unanswered for a whole day.

Inquiries with the Forest Department revealed that sparrows are, in fact, classified in the least concern species category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In addition, sparrows are not under any Schedule of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

A senior forest official said that sparrows not being listed in any of the schedules of the Act did not mean that these could be traded. Biological Diversity Act, a recent legislation actually calls for discussions and nod by the State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) and then by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for trading on flora and fauna especially to other countries.

K. Kalidasan of Osai, an NGO, who was recently inducted into the SBWL, said the issue would be raised in the board’s first meeting, to be held shortly.

“It is time to revisit species in various schedules in the 1972 Act and bring in mechanisms to prevent trading of such flora and fauna,” says Mohammed Saleem of the Environment Conservation Group.

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