Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Monday, June 24, 2024

New Species Are Off the Map, But On the Market









About four years ago, researchers claimed to have discovered a new species of scorpion. Strangely, the exact location of the discovery was never pinpointed, but within a month, the species was on sale on the clandestine online pet market. This is merely one instance of an increasing trend where academic data is being used for trade purposes. "This practice of picking up newly discovered wildlife species has actually been going on for years.


It's just that more people are aware of it now, which leads them to refrain from divulging the exact location where the species were found," explained Amod Zambre, a wildlife biologist from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, a department at the Indian Institute of Science. He was part of the team that came across the new scorpion species. In another case, a breed of newly- discovered arachnids were traded for another species by an alleged researcher, who was caught during the trade-off.




"Countries like India are rich in their diversity of fauna, especially amphibians and reptiles. However, in several incidents, they are kept in captivity as novel pets and then exported. It becomes a problem especially when it is a rare species with limited distribution," said Varad Giri, a researcher from the National Centre for Biological Sciences. Areport published last year in Zootaxa from China, where two new species of large geckos from the genus goniurosaurus were discovered, gave the location merely as Southern China. In the abstract, researchers have even mentioned that the locations have been withheld as geckos from this genus (classification) are hugely popular as novelty pets.





Withholding locations is also done in cases of rare birds. "Last month, there were three Great Indian Bustards found in Karnataka. However, fearing unethical photographers, the exact location of the sighting was not disclosed. It was simply said that they were found near the Tungabhadra river," said Abi T Vanak, a researcher from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment. Amit Sayyed, a researcher from the Wildlife Protection and Research Society, said, "Such species, especially geckos and snakes, are also kept by enthusiasts. The Leopard Gecko is the most common in trade circles. However, it is imperative that the scientific habitat be revealed by authors, at least on request."







Source: Ahmedabad Mirror