Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Provisions, Background, Features,Important Bodies

By K Balaji|Updated : June 2nd, 2022

Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) was enacted by the Government of India in 1972 to safeguard wild animals, birds, and plants, with an aim to ensure the ecological and environmental security of India. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 UPSC topic finds its relevance under the environment and ecology sections of the IAS Syllabus. In this post, we have covered all the facts, history, features, and related information to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Candidates preparing for the UPSC exam must go through this Wildlife Protection Act 1972 UPSC notes to get a better grasp on this particular act.

Table of Content

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 Constitutional Provisions

  • Forests and Protection of Wild Animals and Birds were shifted from State to Concurrent List by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976.
  • Article 48A of the DPSP was also added by the 42nd Amendment Act which directs the State to improve and protect the environment and safeguard wildlife and forests.
  • Under the Fundamental Duty, Article 51A imposes a duty on the citizens every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment.

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 in India

  • 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 as a means of conservation of wildlife.
  • 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.
  • Important legislations such as the Indian Forest Act of 1878, the Indian fisheries Act of 1897, and the Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act of 1912 were introduced by the British administration.
  • The most comprehensive wildlife conservation law of India, the Wildlife Protection Act was passed only in 1972.

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 - Background

  • After India became independent, the advent of automobiles and long-range rifles aggravated the decline of India's wildlife.
  • The government with a view to protecting crops from the clutches of wild animals issued guns freely to farmers which resulted in large-scale destruction of wild animals.
  • Between 1947 and 1951, there was large-scale destruction of wildlife in India in all the 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 WPA was introduced, hence there was an urgent need for comprehensive legislation aimed at the protection of India’s flora and fauna.

Salient Features of Wildlife Protection Act 1972

    • The Act mandates the prohibition of hunting of 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 Act 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 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 for the purpose of protecting 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 l transfers any area under its control to the Central Government, then the centre can declare such areas as Sanctuary or National Park.

Important Bodies Established Through Wildlife Protection Act 1972

Central Zoo Authority (CZA)

  • Central Zoo Authority was established in 1992 under the Ministry of Environment & Forests
  • Chairperson: Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change
  • The Authority recognises or derecognises zoos in India.
  • It mandates basic standards for animals in zoos and evaluates and assesses the functioning of zoos in India.

NATIONAL TIGER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY (NTCA)

  • NTCA was established in December 2005 under the WPA, 1972.
  • Chairperson: Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change
  • NTCA has been mandated to strengthen tiger conservation in India by assessing various conservation programs and providing recommendations

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)

  • WCCB is a statutory body established in 2006 under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • WCCB has its headquarters in New Delhi.
  • WCCB is tasked with the collection of intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and advice the Government on issues relating to wildlife crimes

National Board for Wild Life (NBWL)

    • NBWL is the apex body for all wildlife-related matters in India.
    • Chairperson: Prime Minister
    • The board is tasked with framing policies and advising the Governments on means of promoting wildlife conservation and effectively controlling poaching and illegal trade of wildlife and carrying out an environmental impact assessment of various projects and activities on wildlife
    • NBWL also prepares and publishes a status report at least once in two years on wildlife in the country.

Wildlife Protection Act Schedules

Check all the 6 schedules under Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Schedules

Description

Important Species

Schedule 1

Endangered species are included and are accorded the highest level of protection.

Hunting of species under this Schedule is prohibited except under threat to human life.

Caracal, Cheetah, Clouded leopard, Golden langur, Indian lion, Lion-tailed macaque, Pygmy hog, Rhinoceros, Tiger, Gharial, Great Indian Hornbill, Great Indian Bustard, etc.

Schedule 2

Species in this list are given high protection. Their trade is prohibited.

And cannot be hunted except under threat to human life.

Bison, Dolphins, Flying squirrels, Himalayan Brown bear, Indian Elephant, Dhole, Leopard, Nilgiri Thar, etc.

Schedule 3I

This list includes protected species but the penalty for any violation is less compared to the first two schedules.

Chinkara, Chital, Himalayan Ibex, Hyaena, Nilgai, Sambar, Sloth bear, etc.

Schedule 4

Species included are not endangered but hunting is prohibited.

Desert fox, Barbets, Otters, few Birds, etc.

Schedule 5

This list includes vermin species that can be hunted without any punishment

Mice, Fruit bats, Jackal, Common crow, Common fox, etc.

Schedule 6I

This schedule provides regulations for the cultivation of specific endemic plants and limits their possession, sale, and transportation, which could be carried out only with prior permission.

Pitcher plant, Slipper orchids, Blue vanda, Red vanda, Kuth, etc.

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 UPSC

The Wildlife Protection Act is an important topic for the UPSC Mains Examination under the “Ecology and Environment” section of GS paper 3.It is also an important topic for the UPSC Prelims examination which comes under “General issues on Biodiversity - that do not require subject specialization”. Being a part of both the UPSC Prelims Syllabus and the UPSC Mains Syllabus makes this topic highly imperative. Apart from depending on the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 UPSC Notes, candidates must keep their hands on the right UPSC Books to answer all the questions asked in this section.

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 PDF

We have prepared a PDF file containing the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 notes for the UPSC Exam. Candidates can take a printout of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 UPSC Notes PDF to cover this Act in an easier manner.

>> Download Wildlife Protection Act UPSC Notes PDF

Wildlife Protection Act 1972 UPSC Questions

Practice some sample Wildlife Protection Act UPSC questions for the upcoming prelims exam.

Q1. Which one of the following is not an objective of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972?

(a) Establishment of sanctuaries and national parks, tiger reserves

(b) Judicially impose penalties for violating the Act.

(c) Consolidate the law related to forest

(d) Regulations for hunting wild animals and birds,

Answer: option (c)

Q2. If a particular plant species is placed under Schedule VI of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, what is the implication?

(a) A license is required to cultivate that plant.

(b) Such a plant cannot be cultivated under any circumstances.

(c) It is a Genetically Modified crop plant.

(d) Such a plant is invasive and harmful to the ecosystem

Answer: option (a)

Q3. According to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which of the following animals cannot be hunted by any person except under some provisions provided by law?

  1. Gharial
  2. Indian wild ass
  3. Wild Buffalo

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: option (d)

Q4. In India, if a species of tortoise is declared protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, what does it imply?

(a) It enjoys the same level of protection as tiger

(b) It no longer exists in the wild, a few individuals are under captive protection, and now it is impossible to prevent its extinction

(c) It is endemic to a particular region of India

(d) Both (b) and (c) stated above are correct in this context

Answer: option (a)

Q5. With reference to ‘dugong’, a mammal found in India, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. It is a herbivorous marine animal
  2. It is found along the entire coast of India
  3. It is given legal protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. a) 1 and 2
  2. b) 2 only
  3. c) 1 and 3
  4. d) 3 only

Answer: option (c)

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FAQs on Wildlife Protection Act 1972

  • Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 is a legislation that provides for the protection of India's wild species to ensure environmental and ecological security.

  • Schedule V of the Wildlife Protection Act consists of the list of species that are considered vermin species and can be hunted without any restrictions.

  • The main objective of the Wildlife Protection Act is to prevent illegal hunting, poaching, and trade in wildlife and its derivative parts.

  • The Wildlife Protection Act consists of eight chapters that are divided into 60 Sections and VI Schedules

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