Kolkata/Patna: Thousands of wild animals and birds are being illegally sold at the ongoing Sonepur cattle fair in Bihar, a wildlife conservation body today alleged, a claim which has been rejected by the state government.
A report by Wildlife Trust of India on Tuesday said, from unprotected exotic birds to birds under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, all are being sold in the fair.
The report claimed an enforcement assistance team of WTI which surveyed the fair also found nilgais, porcupines and several other species protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act on display for sale.
The state government rejected the allegations and said the officials of forest department keep a watch in the fair to prevent such instances.
"No banned animal is being sold at Sonepur fair. We are taking care of it. Officials of the forest department keep a vigil to see to it that such things do not happen there. Most of the allegations are just conjecture," Principal Secretary, Bihar Tourism Department, Deepak Prasad said.
"We want to know if any organisation has detected trade in banned wildlife happening at the Sonepur fair, why doesn't it immediately file a case there itself. Who stops them?" Prasad added.
The report claimed animals were stuffed into small cages and displayed publicly at the month-long animal market, which began on November 5 and will continue till December 4. Two species of primates - langurs and macaques were also being sold at the fair, it added.
"There are owls, shikras, black shouldered kites, peregrine falcons, munias, hill mynas, bank mynas and green pigeons for sale. By now thousands of birds would have already been sold," it said.