Respite for animals as India bans skin, fur imports


New Delhi, Jan 5: In a bid to end the suffering of animals abroad, which are culled in large numbers to meet the market demands here, India has shut its doors to fur and reptile skin products from around the world.

The order, which has been implemented from January 3, has come after directions to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade by the Union Environment Ministry in November last year.

The amendment in India’s import policy made by Department of Commerce and Industry covers products made from skin of snakes, alligator, crocodiles, monitor lizards and fur skin from mink, chinchilla and foxes among other animals.

The order came following the years of efforts made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) with the help of Union Minister for Women and Child Development and wildlife crusader Maneka Gandhi.

“There is huge demand for products like bags and wallets made of the animal skins like fur and reptile skins in India. Several famous brands like Louis Vuitton, which has limited showrooms in India, use crocodile skins. This order may help end suffering of many animals by ending demand here,” Nikunj Sharma of PETA told IANS.

“We initiated the issue in 2014. With help of Maneka Gandhi, the Environment Ministry agreed. We then met Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in 2015 who also agreed with us,” said Sharma.

Previously, the import policy for these items were free with restrictions subjected to prohibitions under India’s Wildlife Protection Act or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

“For one full length fur coat, over 150 chinchilla are killed,” Sharma said. The new Indian policy now completely prohibits the import of the fur of the small mouse-like mammals, slightly larger than a squirrel, found in South America. Mink and other otter-like animals found in America and Europe are also killed for their even coloured fur.

Meanwhile, in a shocking video that went viral world wide, PETA showed how several crocodile farms in Vietnam and many other countries skin living reptiles by poking rods through the head for a better yield.