A statewide Nagaland biodiversity survey was conducted by students and alumni of NCBS, Bangalore, in May-June 2011. Across sites, the teams found wild animals kept by villagers – some as pets, others for eventual consumption. These included rare mammals like Leopard Cats, Slow Loris and Stump-tailed Macaques as well as several bird species. While the team physically didn’t observe any, keeping (Blyth’s) Tragopans as pets also seemed to be a widespread hobby and a delicacy reserved for VIPs.
This Slow Loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) was found in a residence in Mokakchong, in North Nagaland by a team member, Moa Akum, before the biodiversity survey.
In their report to the Nagaland forest department, the team recommended that:
- Village communities need to be educated that keeping wild animals in captivity as pets is illegal.
- Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centres needs to be established in key sites area for wild animals, with modern facilities and experienced veterinarians to deal with rescued, orphaned or injured animals which can eventually be released back into the wild when considered fit to survive without human aid.
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The Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA) prohibits any person (other than a recognized zoo including a rescue centre) from keeping any wild animal (species listed in Schedule I to IV) in captivity without the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW). Every person who by any means obtains possession of such wild/captive animals shall within 48 hours make a report to the nearest police station or the authorised officer and handover such government property. In this view, possessing captive animals listed in the Schedules without permission is an offence.