Question hangs over breeding, sale of Japanese quail

Trade of bird allowed on the ground that it is not protected under Wildlife Act

The permission granted by the Karnataka government for breeding and sale of Japanese quails has raised the eyebrows of wildlife enthusiasts.

The government granted the permission on the basis of a similar measure by the Tamil  Nadu government.

“The bird, still found in the wild, is not introduced from Japan for poultry purpose. It is a protected species under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act. How can the government permit rearing and sale of a species which has the status of a protected animal,” questioned B R Deepak, a wildlife enthusiast and advocate.

He said he was planning to challenge the decision in the court.
The order of the Department of Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, on which the government has relied, cites another order by V N K Pillai, Assistant Inspector General of Forests.

The order dated August 20, 2009, states that Japanese quails, being high egg producers, offer great potential in India as poultry meat. “Having introduced in India from abroad as a domestic species, it does not fall within the purview of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” the order says. However, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, in its notification dated November 2, 1988, has listed the bird under Schedule IV of the Act.

A copy of the circular issued to all the states says that the captive breeding of Japanese quails should not be carried out by any person without appropriate licence obtained under Section 48 of the Act.

The provision stipulates that there should be a high-level scrutiny to ensure that there are no complaints or cases related to wildlife, against the applicant.
A copy of the circular is with the Deccan Herald.

The circular negates the contention of the State government that the bird had been brought from abroad.

“It has now been confirmed that this bird exists in the wild in India and the Handbook of Birds of India and Pakistan by Dr Salim Ali and Dr S Dillon Ripley also confirms this... Therefore any trade in the species, including its captive breeding and sale, will be illegal,” it says.

The officials from the State Agriculture Department or experts from the University For Agriculture Sciences were not available for comment.

About the bird

The Japanese quail is found in East Asia. Being a migratory species, it breeds in Manchuria, south-eastern 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.

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