With an aim to sensitize and make the masses aware about the illegalities of “wet markets”, an ‘Operation Wet Market’ was launched by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), which has been supported by Aaranyak.
Unregulated illegal markets, commonly termed as ‘wet markets’, still exist in many parts of Assam and all other states, said Aaranyak, an NGO for biodiversity conservation in Northeast India.
Many of the “regular markets” which the common people depend on for buying daily needs may also sometimes provide opportunities for traders to illegally sell wildlife species, it said.
“Illegal international trade in wildlife and despicable conditions in which wildlife are kept for sale and slaughter in wet markets in India may contribute towards the outbreak and spread of zoonotic diseases like Covid19 which has disrupted human activities for more than a year now,” the NGO said.
With the help of Aaranyak, the ‘Operation Wet Market’ has been carried out by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) in Guwahati.
Key markets in Guwahati like the ones at Ganeshguri, Beltola, Bamunimaidan and Paltan Bazar were targeted.
Carrying out such an operation on Friday at Bamunimaidan market, assistant director, WCCB, Jawaharlal Baro underlined the need to ensure that no wildlife species is sold or bought in the wet markets.
He also mentioned the purpose of WCCB and how they are working in different parts of the country to minimise wildlife crime.
Dr. Jimmy Borah, senior manager from the legal and advocacy division of Aaranyak along with Nabajit Barman, field officer, WCCB jointly spoke about various kind of wildlife species and their products that are commonly found in the markets of Guwahati and other parts of Assam.
The market committee and the sellers were informed about the penalties for dealing illegally in any wildlife species.
The importance of transmission of zoonotic diseases from wildlife to humans was also highlighted during
the awareness campaign.
The audiences were communicated about the species like turtles, pangolins, tokay gecko, monitor lizard, wild fishes, owl, hill myna, parakeets and orchids which were commonly encountered in wet markets.
A leaflet and poster mentioning these species were widely distributed in the markets to raise awareness.
The public was quite supportive of the message and also pledged to share information if any such illegal wildlife species was observed in the market in the future.
It is believed that cooperation among agencies like WCCB, NGOs like Aaranyak and municipal cooperation in respective areas can contribute to success in controlling illegal trade of wildlife species and their products.
It is expected that such efforts if continued can reduce the risks of future pandemics as well as conserve the natural heritage resources of the country.
“This shall not only prevent future zoonotic diseases like the Covid19 but also ensure efficacious curbing of illegal wildlife trade as per India’s obligation under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” it added.