Illegal pet market a big public secret
By H Sheik Mydeen - CHENNAI
24th July 2012 08:31 AM
A visit to the Kozhi Market near Broadway firstly an attack on your sense of smell. But if you can learn to ignore that, the place is a visual treat of a multitude of colours and shapes. The amazement of visitors at the sheer variety of birds here is usually what hides one fact from them. That this is an illegal bird and pet market.
In fact, the vendors peddling various pet species of animals are so accustomed to the roving eye of journalists that it is quite difficult for reporters or photographers to enter the place without drawing attention.
Recently, some journalists had been assaulted after the vendors discovered the intent of their visit.
But once this reporter and photographer convinced the vendors that they were research scholars studying pet ownership trends, a peek into the trends of the illegal trade emerged.
The illegal pet trade at Kozhi Market has been around for decades. There are no rules, regulations, permissions, certificates or follow-ups at the market, which bustles with activity on Maskan Chavadi Amman Koil Street.
The most popular birds demanded by customers here are the African Macaw, Cockatiels, Racing Pigeons, Fighting Roosters, Police Cap Hens and the ubiquitous African Love Birds. While a pair of African Macaws will tip your wallet significantly at Rs 18,000, the smaller Bengali Finches will set you back by Rs 300.
Some of these birds are banned. For instance, Fighting Roosters and Racing Pigeons are banned, as are the sports of cock fighting and pigeon fighting. With no regulations or rules, this market provides the perfect platform for the sale of these birds, which sell like hot cakes.
“I have been growing many roosters and hens in my small farm, which is one of the part of my house. Many people want Fighting Roosters,” says Arivalagan, a vendor from Chengalpet. Some vendors selling fighting roosters said the demand for the birds was very high from clubs, where they said rooster fighting was very popular. They were unclear about what clubs these were or where they were located, but that did not stop them from selling to these clients.
Other vendors told these ‘research scholars’ that ducks are sourced from Gummidipoondi and villages along the Andhra Pradesh border in Tiruvallur district. Love birds and other fancy birds are brought in from Africa on ships, and are picked up by these vendors at cheap prices breaking even the most basic of Customs regulations.
The market is also home to a bustling trade in other animals such as dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and mice. And all this illegal buying and selling happens right under the nose of the authorities, with two constables standing guard at the entrance to the market itself.
The pet market is also right next to a large assortment of butchers, with a number of shops selling broiler chicken, bringing beauty and cruelty into a small area.
When City Express brought the matter of the decades-old illegal pet market to the notice of the Blue Cross Society representatives, they said they had no idea it existed.
“If the Blue Cross receives any complaints about this, we will look into the matter. As per the government rules and regulations, all pet animal sellers must register with the Animal Welfare Board of India and get a certificate from them. Otherwise the sale is illegal,” said Blue Cross of India General Manager Dawn Williams.
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