State, TN forest officials squabble over quail

Bird of contention

Three persons arrested with 320 Japanese quails (Coturnix Coturnix Japanica) by the CID forest cell on November 11, 2010 in the City stunned the Karnataka officers when they produced the licence issued by TNFD, permitting them to breed quails and trade them even in Karnataka.

“Japanese quail is protected under Wildlife Act Schedule 4. The TNFD licence is a surprise to us,” said K S N Chikkerur, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), CID Forest Cell.

Law violated

In a letter dated October 28, 2010 to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Chief Wildlife Warden of Tamil Nadu, Chikkerur has mentioned that protection of quails is mentioned in the entry no. 57, Schedule 4 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Citing his earlier correspondence dated May 20, 2008, Chikkerur in his letter stated: “The Japanese quails are not safely separable from either rain quails or common quails as per the books of Dr Saleem Ali and Krys Kazmierczak (British bird expert).”

The ADGP has also brought to the notice of Tamil Nadu PCCF Section 61(1) (3) of Wildlife Act which vests with the Union Government the powers either to add or delete any entry in the provision of the Act.

He has sought a a clarification how the law was amended without referring the issue to the Union government.

In another letter (dated November 9, 2010) to Tamil Nadu PCCF, B K Singh questioned legality of issuing the licence. The letter stated: “We are not issuing any permits for quails breeding, but we request you to give your views to the points raised by ADGP, forest cell.”

Interestingly, based on an application by a Tamil Nadu-based company, the Tamil Nadu government has extended the licence to trade quails till January 8, 2009 too.

In another letter dated April 4, 2010, a bird trader from Hassan, who had sought a no objection certificate, was told that the trade in the birds did not need permission.
Tamil Nadu is yet to respond to the letter.

The Japanese quail

The bird is a species found in East Asia. Being a migratory species, it breeds in Manchuria, southeastern Siberia, northern Japan, and the Korean Peninsula. Also found in some parts of the north eastern regions like Sikkim, Bihar and parts of Assam, they dwell in grasslands and cultivated fields. The plumage of the Japanese Quail is a speckled yellow-brown, with a creamy white strip above the eye. Adults are approximately 20 centimetres in height.

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