What is Wildlife Protection Act 1972?
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 looks after the regulation of wildlife trade and products made from them.
The major highlights of the Summary of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 is listed below.
- The Wildlife Protection Act was enacted in the Year 1972.
- The Wildlife Act is divided into 6 schedules covering protected plants, specially protected animals, and vermin species.
- The act lists the plants and animals in order of degrees of protection and monitoring.
Recently, Wildlife Protection Amendment Bill, 2021-2022 has been introduced in the Lok Sabha to increase the species covered and to bring CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in sync with Indian Laws.
Wild Life Protection Act 1972 Background
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 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 Wild Life Protection 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 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 l transfers any area under its control to the Central Government, then the center can declare such areas as Sanctuary or National Park.
Constitutional Provisions of Wildlife Protection Act 1972
The Indian government has included aspects of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act in the Indian constitution.
- 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.
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 recognizes or derecognizes 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 Wildlife Protection Act 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 to 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.
Schedule of Wildlife Protection Act
Check all 6 schedules under Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Important Species under Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972
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.
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.
This list includes protected species but the penalty for any violation is less than the first two schedules.
Chinkara, Chital, Himalayan Ibex, Hyaena, Nilgai, Sambar, Sloth bear, etc.
Species included are not endangered but hunting is prohibited.
Desert foxes, Barbets, Otters, a few Birds, etc.
This list includes vermin species that can be hunted without any punishment
Mice, Fruit bats, Jackals, Common crow, Common fox, etc.
This schedule provides regulations for cultivating 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 for Protecting Habitats
There are 5 protected areas under the Wild Life Protection Act
- National Parks
- Conservation Reserves
- Community Reserves
- Tiger Reserves
Under the Wildlife Act, the government can declare protecting habitats such as national parks and sanctuaries.
Difference Between Environment Protection Act and Wildlife Protection Act
The Environment Protection Act (1986) is an umbrella of various environmental legislations in India to protect and improve the environment in sync with UNEP. Laws such as the Water (Prevention and control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and Air (Prevention and Control Pollution, 1981 are covered under the Environment Protection Act. It also provides the definition of the ‘Environment’ and its relations and importance to humans.
The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 focuses on the protection of various species of flora and fauna, including safeguarding their habitat and preventing hunting.
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 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?
- Indian wild ass
- 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?
- It is a herbivorous marine animal
- It is found along the entire coast of India
- It is given legal protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
- a) 1 and 2
- b) 2 only
- c) 1 and 3
- d) 3 only
Answer: option (c)
Other Important UPSC Notes