Q 1) What kind of birds is it legal to keep?
Ans: ‘Keeping’ a bird, if it entails a cage, is the worst form of cruelty that a man can inflict – depriving the bird of not only its natural habitat but also its right to fly. No Indian birds can be legally kept under the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 . Only exotic species can be kept and that too if the seller/owner establishes that they have come from outside the country. In order to prove that, the seller needs to possess an import licence and permission from the CITIES bureau.
Q 2) What is CITIES and what are the laws protecting endangered species of animals?
Ans: CITIES or the United Nations Convention On International Trade In Endangered Species Of Wild Fauna And Flora came into effect in order to protect rare and endangered species of wild fauna and flora against over-exploitation. The convention ensures that international trade does not pose a threat to the survival of a species in the wild.
The convention also provides strict regulation over export of those species threatened with extinction that may be catalyzed by trade. No permits are issued for the international trade of giant pandas, elephants, great apes, rhinos, great whales and the large cats including the tiger. The criteria for prohibiting the international trade of certain species are that if the status of the specific species is seriously declining it should be prohibited.
Further, the keeping of a permissible bird must be in conformity with the provisions of Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act , which stipulates that any person who keeps and confines any bird in any cage which does not measure sufficiently to permit the bird of a reasonable opportunity of movement or does not provide the bird with sufficient food, drink and shelter shall be guilty of treating that bird cruelly. The failure to comply with these provisions of Section 11 of PCA is a cognizable offence and the person is liable to be arrested and punished. Hence the sane and safe course of action is to set the birds free.
Q 3) What does the law say about selling of wild birds in the local market?
Ans: The word ‘wild bird’ itself implies that the bird comes under The Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 , which extends its protection to about 122 species of birds. Section 9 of the WPA prohibits hunting of wild birds. “Hunting” in common parlance signifies the pursuit, trapping and then killing of an animal. But under the WPA ‘hunting’ also includes capturing and trapping of any wild animal. Further, Section 57 of W.P.A raises a legal presumption that if a person is in possession, custody or control of any captive animal (including wild birds), it shall be presumed that such a person is not in lawful possession of the captive animal. Hence, a person selling a wild bird in the local market is guilty of the offence of ‘hunting’ and is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years as stipulated under Section 51 of the WPA.
Q 4) Does the Police have the power to arrest under the Wild Life Protection Act?
Ans: Section 50 of WPA authorizes the Director, or the Chief Wildlife Warden or any officer authorized by them or any forest officer or any police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector to arrest any person without warrant and detain him, if the arresting officer has reasonable grounds for believing that such person has committed an offence against the WPA. And Section 51(1) of the WPA stipulates that any person who contravenes any provision of Act or any rule or order made there under….shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and shall, on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to Rupees twenty-five thousand or with both.