Wild Life Act, 1972 – Important Exam Notes, Objectives

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The Wild Life Act 1972 is a law enacted to protect the well-being of wild animals, birds, and plants, as well as address matters paramount to the ecological and environmental security of India. Over the years, the Act has gone through several Amendments and has evolved with the times. Moreover, the last amendment was in 2022, with quite a few significant amendments. All in all, the Wild Life Act 1972 aims to use a multi-faceted approach to wildlife conservation in India. Hence, aiming to protect endangered species, manage their habitats, fulfil international commitments as well as contribute to broader environmental protection efforts.

Wild Life Act, 1972 as of 1st of April, 2023
Chapter IPreliminary
Chapter IIAuthorities to be Appointed or Constitutes under the Act 
Chapter IIIHunting of Wild Animals 
Chapter IIIAProtection of Specified Plants 
Chapter IVProtected AreasSanctuariesNational ParksSanctuaries or National Parks declared by the Central Government
Chapter IVACentral Zoo Authority and Recognition of Zoos
Chapter IVBNational Tiger Conservation Authority
Chapter IVCWild Life Crime Control Bureau.
Chapter VTrade or Commerce in Wild Animals, Animal Articles and Trophies
Chapter VAProhibition of Trade and Commerce in Trophies, Animal Articles, etc., Derived from Certain Animals 
Chapter VBRegulation of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora as per Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora   
Chapter VIPrevention and Detection of Offences
Chapter VIAForfeiture of Property Derived from Illegal Hunting and Trade
Chapter VIIMiscellaneous 
Schedule I
Schedule II
Schedule III
Schedule IVWith Three Appendices

What are the Objectives of the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972?

Furthermore, the Act 1972 aims to accomplish numerous objectives related to wildlife conservation in India. Here are the main ones:

1. Protect Wildlife:

  • Prevent hunting, poaching, and illegal trade: The Act aims to stop activities that directly harm wildlife by making hunting illegal, with exceptions only for specific purposes under permits. Additionally, it regulates trade in wildlife and their products to prevent exploitation.
  • Conserve endangered species: Additionally, through Schedules I and II (Part II) with the highest level of protection, the Act aims to conserve species facing the most significant threat of extinction.

2. Manage Habitats:

  • Establish protected areas: The Act establishes three categories of protected areas: National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Conservation Reserves. These designations restrict activities that could damage wildlife habitat within these boundaries.
  • Promote sustainable management: The Act encourages the sustainable management of wildlife and their habitats within designated areas, thus making sure of their long-term viability.

3. Implement International Commitments: India can fulfill its obligations under international agreements like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

4. Environmental Protection:

  • Protect biodiversity: Conserving wildlife has an important part in maintaining biodiversity, a key factor in ecological health and well-being.
  • Promote environmental awareness: The Act helps raise public awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

Also Read: Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act 2023: History, Changes

What are the Constitutional Provisions of the Indian Wild Life Act 1972?

The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 shifted the matter of Forests and Protection of Wild Animals and Birds from the State List to the Concurrent List. 

  • Moreover, it is a Fundamental Duty of every citizen, as per Article 51A of the Indian Constitution, to protect and improve the natural environment which includes forests and wildlife. 
  • Additionally, Article 48 A in the Directive Principles of State Policy directs the State to work towards guarding and enhancing the environment and protecting India’s forests and wildlife.

Also Read: Indian Agriculture Act 2020: Know all About Farm Laws

What Authorities are under the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972?

The Act 1972, establishes a multi-layered framework for wildlife protection involving Authorities at the Central and State levels. Here are some Authorities:

Central Government Agencies

  • Director of Wildlife Preservation (DWLP): Moreover, the DWLP holds overall responsibility for administering the Act and has been appointed by the Central Government.
  • National Board for Wildlife (NBWL): This is a statutory body advising the Central government on wildlife conservation policies and overseeing their implementation. It is chaired by the Prime Minister and consists of about 30 members.
  • Central Zoo Authority (CZA): The CZA manages zoos across the country, hence ensuring they meet animal welfare standards and contribute to conservation efforts.

State Government Agencies

  • Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW): The CWLW is responsible for implementing the Act within the State and overseeing wildlife management. They are appointed by the State government.
  • State Board for Wildlife (SBWL): Similar to the NBWL at the central level, this statutory body advises the State government on wildlife conservation within the state. It is chaired by the Chief Minister and consists of around 25 members.
  • Forest Officials: Additionally, these are empowered by the Act to investigate and prosecute wildlife offences. They include forest officers, range officers, and wildlife wardens.

Additional Authorities

  • Police Officers (above the rank of Sub-Inspector): They are authorised to assist forest officials in enforcing the Act, such as conducting arrests and searches.
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB): A central agency responsible for tackling wildlife crime across the country, including investigating wildlife offences and coordinating with state authorities.

Also Read: What is Democracy? Structure, Types, Countries

What are the Protected Areas under the Wild Life Act 1972?

Furthermore, there are 5 Protected Areas for wildlife conservation:

  • National Parks: These are the most strictly protected areas, aiming to preserve flora and fauna with minimal human interference.
    • Moreover, activities like hunting, grazing, and forestry are prohibited. 
    • Local communities may have limited rights to access resources within the park with prior permission.
  • Wildlife Sanctuaries: Less strictly protected than national parks, these areas focus on the protection of specific species or habitats.
    • Limited human activities like grazing and harvesting minor forest products may be permitted as long as they don’t negatively impact wildlife.
  • Conservation Reserves: These are areas intended for the protection of flora, fauna, or geological formations, with the focus being on sustainable use by local communities.
    • Additionally, activities like harvesting resources may be allowed under controlled conditions.
  • Community Reserves: These are areas designated by local communities with the support of the government to conserve wildlife and their habitat.
    • In addition, management authority rests with the local communities, with guidance from the government.
  • Tiger Reserves: They are established specifically for the conservation of tigers and their habitat.
    • These areas consist of a “core area” with strict protection similar to National Parks.
    • There is a “buffer area” where limited human activities are allowed under specific regulations.
Mukundara Hill Tiger Reserve
Source: Mukundara Hill Tiger Reserve

What is the Importance of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972?

The Act 1972, has powerful importance for India’s wildlife conservation efforts and the overall environmental well-being of the country. 

1. Protecting Wildlife Species

  • Curbing poaching and illegal trade: The Act serves as a legal framework to combat poaching, hunting, and illegal trade. This has helped populations of Endangered and Threatened species to recover and stabilize.
  • Habitat Protection: The Act offers important sanctuaries for wildlife, hence allowing their populations to flourish within protected spaces.
  • Species diversity: The Act protects the rich biodiversity that India possesses. It is necessary for maintaining ecological balance as well as ecosystem functioning.

2. Environmental Benefits

  • Maintaining ecosystem health: Wildlife plays a vital role in ecosystem processes like pollination, seed dispersal, and pest control. The Act’s protection of wildlife contributes to the health and functioning of ecosystems across the country.
  • Promoting eco-tourism: The existence of protected areas and diverse wildlife attracts tourism, generating revenue that can further support conservation efforts.

3. Social and Cultural Significance

  • Conservation ethos: The Act encourages a sense of responsibility and awareness about wildlife conservation among citizens, thus promoting respect for nature and its inhabitants.
  • Cultural value: Wildlife holds significant cultural value in India, often associated with religious beliefs and traditional practices. The Act’s protection of animals contributes to preserving this cultural heritage.

4. International Commitment: India adopts international treaties like CITES, hence demonstrating its commitment to global efforts in wildlife conservation.

Also Read: What is a National Emergency?

Wild Life Protection Act 1972 Schedule List

There were initially 6 Schedules, but as per the 2022 Amendment to the Wild Life Act 1972, there are now 4 Schedules with 3 Appendices. Here is a brief bit about the 4 Schedules: 

Schedule List of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972 as of 1st of April, 2023
SchedulePurpose of the Schedule New Changes made to the Schedule as per the 2022 Amendment
Schedule IThis schedule includes species with the highest level of protection. 
Hunting, trade, or possession of these species is strictly prohibited except under specific circumstances outlined in the Act. 
Examples: tigers, lions, elephants, one-horned rhinos, etc.
No major changes. 
Schedule IIThis schedule includes species with a lower level of protection but still require significant conservation efforts
Hunting is generally prohibited, but trade and possession may be allowed under certain permits. 
Examples: langurs, sambar deer, blackbucks, etc.
Some species were moved from Schedule II to Schedule I for increased protection, such as the Asian elephant and the Indian pangolin.
Schedule IIIThis schedule includes species that are considered vermin or harmful to agriculture or property. 
Hunting or killing these species may be permitted under specific circumstances. 
Examples: wild boars, nilgai, monkeys in specific areas, etc.
Some species were moved from Schedule III to Schedule II for stricter regulation, such as the Nilgai and the Rhesus macaque.
Schedule IVThis schedule includes species listed under CITES
Trade and possession of these species are regulated to prevent their exploitation.
Appendix I of Schedule IV was introduced. It includes species requiring a license for breeding in captivity or artificial propagation. This aims to regulate trade in their body parts or derivatives.
Source: NLB Singapore

Lastly, we hope you liked our blog and gained an understanding of the Wild Life Act, 1972. Moreover, you may even read more blogs and empower yourself with knowledge regarding Civics and Polity! 

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