The Higher Education Department has warned colleges of the State against possessing wild animals as well as their specimen for educational and experimental purposes.
Following a reminder by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the department issued a circular stating that acquisition or possession of wild animals without the permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden is an offence under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Since Science stream students, Zoology to be precise, are taught anatomy, colleges possess specimen of animals, mostly small though, for their laboratories. However, the circular has a word of caution against it.
“Capturing, injuring, killing or hunting wild animals are prohibited under the law. For any violation of the provisions, the head of the school and college concerned shall be deemed guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded and punished accordingly,” the circular stated.
Director of Higher Education Satyakam Mishra said, the circular would work as a reminder and create awareness although use of animals as specimen had been stopped a long time back.
“Now colleges use computer animations of the animals and even charts to describe the anatomy to the students. Since this is a statutory provision, colleges are made aware of the law and its implications,” Mishra said.
Several years back, the MoEF had come out with a voluntary disclosure scheme under which people and institutions - which possessed wild animals, protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, as well as trophies of the animals - were encouraged to disclose their acquisitions. The scheme had led to a large number of disclosures.
The latest circular by the Higher Education Department has also made a similar prescription in which it asked the Council of Higher Secondary Education as well as Regional Directors to intimate the principals to surrender any illegal wild animals as well as specimen in their possession before the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State. The principals have also been asked not to make any acquisitions in future.