Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Features, Wildlife Protection Act UPSC Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was enacted by the Government of India to safeguard wild animals, birds, and plants, with an aim to ensure the ecological and environmental security of India. The Indian Wildlife Protection Act also provides details about restrictions on hunting to safeguard animal species.

Earlier, Wildlife Protection Act 1972 did not include the state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, after the reorganization act, J&K is covered under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. The Indian government has also included it under the DPSP in the constitution. Know more about the act, including the Salient Features of Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Wildlife Protection Act 1972

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 is a law in India that aims to protect and conserve the country’s wildlife. It was created to prevent the illegal hunting, poaching, and trade of wildlife species, as well as to preserve their natural habitats. Wildlife management has been seen in India for a long time as Vedas contain hymns in praise of animals and have linked animals with Gods or goddesses to conserve wildlife. So the Government of India introduced the Wildlife Act 1972 to provide a legal framework to protect animals and plants and properly manage their habitats. The Wildlife Protection Act also regulates wildlife trade and products made from them.

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 is a significant legislation that was passed in the year 1972. It is divided into six schedules that categorize protected plants, specially protected animals, and vermin species. These schedules outline the level of protection and monitoring required for various plants and animals. In recent times, the Wildlife Protection Amendment Bill for 2021-2022 has been introduced in the Lok Sabha. This bill aims to expand the coverage of protected species and align the regulations with the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to ensure better conservation measures in India.

Background of Wildlife Protection Act 1972

The British administration in India brought about reforms in the wildlife conservation efforts in the wake of the large-scale elimination of wildlife due to hunting. The British administration introduced important legislation such as the Indian Forest Act of 1878, the Indian Fisheries Act of 1897, and the Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act of 1912.

The most comprehensive wildlife conservation law of India, the Wildlife Protection Act, was passed only in 1972.

  • After India became independent, the advent of automobiles and long-range rifles aggravated the decline of India’s wildlife.
  • The government, to protect crops from the clutches of wild animals, issued guns freely to farmers, which resulted in the large-scale destruction of wild animals. Between 1947 and 1951, there was large-scale destruction of wildlife in India in all parts of the country as poachers indulged in the indiscriminate shooting of wild animals. As a result, the Cheetah became extinct in India in 1951.
  • Also, there were only five national parks in the country before Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was introduced. Hence, comprehensive legislation was urgently needed to protect India’s flora and fauna.

Salient Features of Wildlife Protection Act 1972

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 encompasses several key features aimed at conserving and protecting wildlife, including the prevention of illegal hunting and trade, the establishment of protected areas, and the classification of species based on their level of protection. Check the salient features of the Wildlife Protection Act below:

  • The Wildlife Protection Act mandates the prohibition of hunting wild animals in general, while the hunting of wild animals would be permitted in certain cases for the purpose of education and scientific research.
  • The Act also prohibits picking, uprooting, etc., of a specified plant species.
  • The Wildlife Act 1972 provided for the declaration and protection of protected areas such as Sanctuaries and National Parks.
  • The Act prohibits the trade in trophies, animals, and animal articles from certain animals.
  • The Wildlife Conservation Act says that if an animal is hunted in a sanctuary or National Park, such animal or any animal article shall be the property of the Government.
  • Powers of State government: State Government can declare an area as a Sanctuary or as a National Park to protect the wildlife and the environment in the region as the region is of ecological, faunal, floral, or zoological importance.
  • Powers of Central Government: If the State Government transfers any area under its control to the Central Government, then the centre can declare such areas as Sanctuary or National Park.

Bodies Established under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, established several bodies to support the effective implementation of wildlife conservation measures in India. These bodies play a significant role in ensuring the protection and management of wildlife and their habitats.

  • National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA): It was established in December 2005 under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 to protect and conserve tiger populations and their habitats in the country. The national tiger conservation authority is responsible for the implementation of Project Tiger and oversees the management of tiger reserves.
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB): This specialized law enforcement agency focuses on combating wildlife crimes and illegal wildlife trade. Established in 2006, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau serves as a statutory body between different enforcement agencies, working together to investigate and prevent offences related to wildlife.
  • State Wildlife Advisory Boards: Each state in India has its own State Wildlife Advisory Board, which advises the state government on matters related to wildlife conservation, protected areas, and management of wildlife habitats within the state.
  • Wildlife Wardens: Under the Wildlife Protection Act, each state appoints Wildlife Wardens responsible for administrating and enforcing the act within their respective jurisdictions. They play a crucial role in protecting wildlife and their habitats.
  • Central Zoo Authority (CZA): The CZA regulates and oversees the functioning of zoos in India. Under the Ministry of Environment & Forests, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) was established in 1992. It serves as the regulatory body for zoos in India. It sets standards for zoo management, animal welfare, and conservation, ensuring the ethical and responsible management of captive wildlife.
  • National Board for Wildlife (NBWL): Established under Section 5A of the Wildlife Protection Act, the NBWL is a statutory body chaired by the Prime Minister of India. It advises the Central Government on policies and measures for wildlife conservation and the development of protected areas. The board also grants permissions for activities in and around protected areas, ensuring a balance between developmental needs and wildlife conservation.

Schedule of Wildlife Protection Act

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, includes various schedules that categorize different species and provide them with specific legal protections. These schedules play a crucial role in regulating and conserving wildlife in India. Check the schedule of the Wildlife Protection Act in the table below.

Schedule Description
Schedule I Includes critically endangered species like tigers, lions, elephants, and rhinoceros, providing them with the highest level of protection and stringent conservation measures.
Schedule II Contains endangered species, such as crocodiles, blackbuck, and Great Indian Bustard, requiring special protection and conservation efforts.
Schedule III Includes protected species, such as leopards, wild boars, and Indian gazelles, ensuring their conservation and regulating their hunting or trade.
Schedule IV Consists of species that are deemed vermin in specific areas and can be hunted under certain conditions, such as rats and mice.
Schedule V Lists the animals that can be hunted with permission, including certain birds and animals that are not endangered or protected.
Schedule VI Focuses on plant species, including rare or threatened plants, and imposes restrictions on their collection, cultivation, or trade.

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for Protecting Habitats

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, plays a vital role in protecting habitats for wildlife in India. It provides legal provisions and guidelines to safeguard various habitats critical for the survival and conservation of wildlife species. Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 5 types of protected areas are recognized:

Difference Between Environment Protection Act and Wildlife Protection Act

The Environment Protection Act and the Wildlife Protection Act are two significant legislations in India that address different aspects of environmental conservation and protection. While the Environment Protection Act focuses on the overall protection and improvement of the environment, the Wildlife Protection Act specifically targets the conservation and preservation of wildlife species and their habitats. Check the difference between Environment Protection Act and the Wildlife Protection Act from the table provided below.

Environment Protection Act Wildlife Protection Act
Focuses on broader environmental issues such as air and water pollution, hazardous substances, and environmental impact assessment. Concentrates specifically on the protection and conservation of wildlife species and their habitats.
Regulates activities that may cause environmental harm, such as industrial pollution and hazardous waste disposal. Establishes measures to safeguard wildlife from hunting, poaching, illegal trade, and habitat destruction.
Provides guidelines for environmental impact assessments, pollution control, and the establishment of pollution control boards. Grants legal protection to specific wildlife species, designates protected areas like national parks and sanctuaries, and outlines penalties for violations.
Primarily administered by the Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Boards. Primarily administered by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and implemented by State Forest Departments and other designated authorities.
Addresses environmental issues beyond wildlife Specifically focuses on wildlife conservation and their habitats

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 UPSC

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an important topic for both the UPSC Prelims and Mains examinations. It is covered under the Environment and Ecology section in the UPSC Syllabus. The Act holds significance as it focuses on protecting and conserving wildlife, a crucial aspect of India’s biodiversity and environmental conservation efforts.

Candidates appearing for the UPSC Exam should prioritize studying the Wildlife Protection Act as it holds significance in the Environment and Ecology section. To enhance their preparation, candidates can read the salient features of the act and gain an understanding of the important bodies established under it.

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 UPSC Questions

Candidates should refer to the UPSC previous year question papers to understand the types of questions asked on the topic. It is crucial for candidates to have a good understanding of the topic in order to perform well in the exam.

Question: Which objective is not included in the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972? (A) Setting up sanctuaries and national parks, tiger reserves (B) Impose penalties through the judicial system for violating the Act (C) Consolidate laws pertaining to forests (D) Establish regulations for hunting wild animals and birds

Answer: (C) Consolidate laws pertaining to forests

Question: What does it mean when a specific plant species is listed under Schedule VI of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972? (A) A license is necessary to cultivate that plant, (B) Cultivation of such a plant is strictly prohibited, (C) It is a genetically modified crop plant, (D) The plant is invasive and poses a threat to the ecosystem

Answer: (A) A license is necessary to cultivate that plant

Question: If a species of tortoise in India is listed as protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, what does it signify? (A) It receives the same level of protection as tigers, (B) The species no longer exists in the wild, with only a few individuals being protected in captivity, making its extinction unavoidable, (C) It is exclusive to a specific region in India (D), Both options (B) and (C) mentioned above are correct in this scenario

Answer: (A) It receives the same level of protection as tigers

UPSC Notes
Indian Penal Code Bhakti Movement
MGNREGA Scheme Gupta Empire
Mountain Passes in India Satavahana Dynasty
Project Tiger Narasimham Committee
Disaster Management Act 2005 Ahom Dynasty
State Formation in India Types of Missiles in India
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