Wild Life, which is a part and parcel of the environment, constitutes wealth of the nation. it included wild animals, birds, plants etc. However, man, in the process of progress and development and also for his selfish ends, is causing much damage to the forests and wild life. Wild life is nature's gift and its decline has an adverse effect of ecology and hence there is an urgent need to protect the wild life. Therefore, in order to protect the wild life from destruction, the Indian Parliament passed the Wild Life (Protection) Act in the year 1972.
The main object of the Act is to provide protection to the wild animals birds and plants. The Act empowers the Central Govt. to declare certain areas as Sanctuaries or National Parks. The Act prohibits hunting of wild animals; birds etc. and impose punishment for violating the same.
The Act contains 66 Sections divided into seven chapters and six schedules. Chapter- I ( Secs. 1 and 2 ) contains short title and definitions. Chapter - II deals with Authorities under the Act. Chapter - III deals with the protection of Specified Plants. Chapter - IV provides for declaration of sanctuaries, National Parks and Closed Areas. Chapter - IV - A deals with Central Zoo Authority and Recognition of Zoos. Chapter- V deals with Trade or Commerce in Wild Animals, Animal Articles and Trophies. Chapter - V- A deals with prohibition of Trade or Commerce in Trophies, Animal Articles etc. Chapter- VI relates to Prevention and Detection of offences and finally Chapter- VII contains Miscellaneous Provisions.
Sec. 3 of the Act empowers the Central Govt. to appoint the Director and Asst. Director Wild Life Preservation and other officials and employees. Further, Sec. 4 empowers, the State Govt. to appoint Chief Wild Life Warden, Wild Life Wardens and on Honorary Wild Life Warden in each District and other officers and employees as may be necessary.
Wild Life Advisory Board
It is constituted in each State or Union Territory to advise the State govt. in selection and declaration of Sanctuaries, National Parks, Closed Areas etc. for protection and conservation of wild life.
Hunting of Wild Animals
The Act prohibits hunting of wild animals. No person shall hunt any wild animals as specified in the Schedules. However, there are certain exceptions. The State Govt. may order to kill or wound in good faith any wild animal for self-defense or to protect or save another. Any animal so killed or wounded is not and offence and shall be govt. property. The Govt. may permit killing of certain wild animals for academic purpose.
The State govt. by notification, may declare any area within the reserved forest or territorial waters as a sanctuary if it considers fit the area for protection and conservation of wild life.
The State govt. by notification, may declare an area whether within a sanctuary or not, is by reason of its ecological or other technical grounds needed to be constituted as a national, park for the purpose of protection, propagating or developing wild life.
Recognition of Zoos
No Zoo shall be operated without being recognized by the authority. The person intends to operate a Zoo shall apply to the Authority in such form and pay such fee prescribed. The applicant should fulfill all the conditions. Then only the Authority shall grant permission. No recognition to a Zoo shall be granted unless the Authority having due regard to interest of protection and conservation of wild life and such standards, norms and other matters as may be prescribed, is satisfied that recognition may be granted. Such Zoo shall acquire or transfer any wild animal specified in this Act with the previous permission of the Authority. No person shall tease, molest, injure or feed any animal or cause disturbance to the animals by noise, or otherwise or litter the grounds in a zoo.
Trade or Commerce in wild animals, animal articles and trophies
All the wild animals, animal articles and trophies shall be the property to the State Government. No person is entitled to hunt any wild animals. No person, without the previous permission in the writing of the Chief Wild Life Warden or the Authorized Officer, acquire or keep in his possession, custody, or control, or transfer to any person whether by a way of gift, sale or otherwise or destroy or damage. At the commencement of this Act, If any person possesses any animal specified in this Act or any uncured trophy derived from such animal or salted or dried skins of such animal or the musk or a musk deer or horn of a rhinoceros shall declare and obtain the permission from the Chief Wild Life Warden or the authorized person. After the commencement of this Act no person shall acquire, receive, keep in his control, custody or possession sell, offer for sale or otherwise transfer or transport any animal specified in the Act or any uncured trophy or meat derived from such animal or the skins or musk or horn without the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wild Life Warden or the Authorized person. Dealings in trophies and animal articles without license is prohibited.
Purchase of animal:
The person who obtains wild animals with the previous permission of the Authorities shall not sell it. He shall keep it in a habitat and healthy conditions.
Power of entry, search, arrest, and detention:
Any authorized person under this Act is entitled and has power of entry, search, arrest and detention of any premises. He can stop vehicle or vessel. He can enter any premises. He can seize any captive animal - wild animal, animal article, meat, trophy or uncured trophy or any specified plant or part of derivative thereof forms the possessor.
Penalties: (Section 51 of Wild Life Protection Act)
Any person who contravenes any provision of the act [except chapter V-A (prohibition of trade or commerce in trophies or Animal articles) and section 38 J (prohibition of teasing of animals)] or any rule made there under, or who commits a breach of any conditions of any licence or permit granted under this act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to Three years or with fine may extend to Twenty Five Thousand rupees or both .
If any offence committed in relation to any animal specified in Schedule-I or Part-II of Schedule-II on where offence relates to hunting in a Sanctuary or National Park or altering the boundaries of Sanctuary or National Park such offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than Three years but may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than Ten Thousand rupees.
For second & subsequent offence, the term of imprisonment shall not be less than Three years & may extend to Seven years and also fine which shall not be less than Five Thousand rupees.
Any person who contravenes any provisions of chapter V-A i.e. Prohibition of trade or commerce in trophies or animal articles, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than Three years and also fine should not less than Ten Thousand rupees.
Any person who contravenes any provisions of section 38 J [prohibition of teasing of animals] shall be punishable for a term which may extend to Six Months or with fine may extend to Two Thousand rupees or both.
Click here to download Wildlife Act 1972 from MOEF Website