Monday, 24 March 2014

Investigating Asia’s biggest animal fair

Posted by: Shekhar K. Niraj & Shubhobroto Ghosh / posted on March 19th, 2014 

Gajendra Moksha, also called The Liberation of Gajendra, is a Puranic legend from the 8th Skandha of Bhagavad Purana, one of the most sacred books in Hinduism. It is one of the famous exploits of Lord Vishnu wherein Lord Vishnu came down to earth to protect Gajendra, the Elephant, from the clutches of Makara, the Crocodile, and awarded him moksha or salvation. This is the ancient legend that lies behind the world famous Sonepur Animal Fair held at Harihar Kshetra on the occasion of Kartik Purnima in Bihar every year (Jain,2014).

TRAFFIC conducted a survey of the Fair in November-December 2013 and found startling information about the illegal animal trade. The market was also surveyed earlier and the findings publicized in November 2012.

Sonepur Animal Fair is an organized gathering where trading in various species has traditionally taken place. The tradition has been so deep-rooted that there are examples where even after a species has been prohibited for commercial trade under the Wildlife (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972, trading goes on brazenly in denial of legal and prohibitory provisions. 

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