Wildlife Protection Act, 1972- Provisions and Drawbacks:
A number of steps have been taken by Indian government for the welfare and protection of wildlife.
- In 1952, the government of India constituted an advisory board, the Indian Board for Wildlife in 1952 to look after the country’s wildlife. Later it was named the Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL).
- Since 1955, Wildlife week is observed every year to educate the people about the importance of wildlife and the need to protect it.
- In 1972, the Wildlife Protection Act was enacted.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:
The Act, a landmark in the history of wildlife legislation in our country, came into existence in 1972. Wildlife was transferred from State list to Concurrent List in 1976, thus giving power to the Central government to enact the legislation.
IBWL, which after the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act actively took up the task of setting up Wildlife National Parks and Sanctuaries. The major activities and provisions in the Act can be summed up as follows-
- It defines wildlife-related terminology.
- It provides for the appointment of Wildlife Advisory Board, wildlife warden, their powers, duties, etc.
- Under the Act, a comprehensive listing of endangered wildlife species was done for the first time and prohibition of hunting of the endangered species was mentioned.
- Protection to some endangered plants like Beddome cycad, Blue vanda, Ladies slipper orchid, Pitcher plant, etc. is also provided under the Act.
- The Act provides for setting up of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- The Act provides for the constitution of the Central Zoo Authority.
- There is provision for trade and commerce in some wildlife species with a license for sale, possession, transfer, etc.
- The Act imposes a ban on the trade or commerce in scheduled animals.
- It provides for legal powers to officers and punishments to offenders.
- It provides for a captive breeding programme for endangered species.
Several conservation projects for individual endangered species like a lion (1972), tiger (1973), crocodile (1974), and brown antlered deer (1981) were started under this act.
Some of the major drawbacks of the Wildlife Protection Act include mild penalty to offenders, illegal wildlife trade in J&K, personal ownership certificate for animal articles like tiger and leopard skins, no coverage of foreign endangered wildlife, pitiable condition of wildlife in mobile zoos and little emphasis on the protection of plant genetic resources.
- India is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). This convention has restricted the export and import of endangered species of plants and animals and prohibited their commercial exploitation.
- National Wildlife Action Plan was enacted in 1983-84. It requires rehabilitation of endangered species by captive breeding. The creation of biosphere reserves have also been put into practice since 1986.
- Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Zoological Survey of India have been established. These have their own wildlife protection programmes.
- A wildlife forensic unit has been set up at Wildlife Institute of India (WLII) at Dehradun. Its aim is to curb rising crimes against wildlife supported by a booming international trade in wildlife articles.
Each state has a Wildlife department to protect the local wildlife. Certain Natural History Societies like Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Wildlife Preservation Society of India (WPSI) are also doing useful work for the conservation of wildlife.