WILDLIFE PROTECTION ACT 1972 (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     22nd January 2024        

Context: The central government has excluded some species from the process of issuing licences for their wildlife trade in the revised rules that have come after four decades.

oThe rules from 1983 prohibited issuing licences to trade in a wild animal categorised under Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. 

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

  • About: It establishes a legislative framework for the preservation of various wild animal and plant species. It also encompasses the management of habitats, regulation of trade in species' parts, and control of products manufactured from them.
  • Classification under the Act: The act includes schedules categorizing plants and animals, subjecting them to different levels of government protection and oversight.
  • India's Inclusion in CITES: The Wildlife Act played a crucial role in India's admission to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • Constitutional Provisions: Article 48A of the Indian Constitution mandates the State to safeguard and improve the environment, including the protection of wildlife and forests. 

oThis provision was added by the 42nd Amendment in 1976.

  • Article 51A: It imposes fundamental obligations on Indian citizens, emphasizing compassion for all living things and the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment, including woods, lakes, rivers, and wildlife.

Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2022 

  • The Bill reduces the number of schedules from six to four.

oSchedule I — Animal species that will enjoy the highest level of protection including those which are critically endangered.

oSchedule II Animal species that will be subject to a lesser degree of protection

oSchedule III Protected Plant species

oSchedule IV Specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES (scheduled specimens).

  • Implementation of CITES: Addition of Chapter VB provides regulation of international wildlife trade as per provisions laid by CITES
  • Changes in the preamble: Instead of words “protection of wild animals, birds and plants”, the words “conservation, protection and management of wildlife” were substituted in the preamble.
  • Invasive species: It provides for the establishment of a Scientific Authority (as per CITES) to advise on matters related to trade of such species.

oIt also grants power to the Central Government to regulate or prohibit import, trade, possession or proliferation of such species.

  • Ownership of captive animals and trophies: Any person possessing a captive animal or a trophy can voluntarily surrender it to the government without expecting any compensation for the same. Etc.