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Legal Implication Of Conserving Endangered Species And Habitats

In very simple words endangered species is that species which is likely or is in danger to become extinct soon in near future.

Talking about India, it is a diverse country and is rich in flora and fauna as well. India has been home to many species of animals and has approximately 6.5% of total world's wildlife population. India has always been very rich and diverse in its flora and fauna through centuries but however due to increase in activities like hunting of such animals many species of animals has gone to become endangered and many others species are already extinct. The list of such endangered animals has not decreased but has increased till this date.

With keeping view of extinction and endangered species India is very active to protect them and has also make strict rules and laws. Judiciary along with government are very actively participating in conserving and protecting the species. There has been introduction of new acts and laws in the recent years which are focused towards the protection of wildlife[1].

Why The Animals Are Getting Endangered?

As per the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list of 2022 of India, as of now there are 10 mammals, 15 bird species, 6 reptiles, 19 amphibians and 14 fishes. For an animal to become categorized under endangered species there are certain criteria which are fulfilled then only an animal is categorized under endangered species, which given as the following-
  1. Populations of an animal has shown a decline or will be declining, by more than 80% over the last 10 years or 3 generations.
  2. Such animals have geographical range which is restricted.
  3. The population size of such species is less than the number 250 and is declining at 25% of rate in the 3 years or 1 generation.
  4. A very small number of populations of such species is left in the wild which is less than 50.
  5. There are very high chances and probability that such species of animals would go extinct from the wild.

So, the main causes or the reasons that the species are getting endangered are given in the following:
  1. One of the main reasons behind endangerment of species is the loss of habitat that is the forest which is the home to these species and not only them but to many species, the human intervention and their depleting activities have caused the loss of natural habitat of these species.
  2. There has been hunting[2] and poaching activities which were caused the reduction in the number of these species from the wild. There was also an era before independence animals[3] were hunted at a mass level and from that time period many animals started to become endangered or extinct.
  3. There is also very much change in the environment as well there is significant increase in pollution which has posed the threat to the lives to not only humans but has also potentially posed health hazards to wildlife as well which has caused endangerment to these species.
  4. There has imbalances in the environment. There used to be a cycle that used to go between the predators and prey. Predators who are the natural enemies used to hunt weak and sick animals as their preys and this relationship was balanced in a healthy environment but however there has been a significant increase in the number predators as compared to prey population as a result such species even the healthy ones are hunted by these predators because there is only a smaller number of preys are left to them to eat in order to survive.
  5. Other reasons include overgrazing and overcrowding as they eat the same plants continuously which leads to destruction in such enclosed small area.

Government Intervention In Protecting Endangered Species And Habitat

The Government has taken several steps in the recent years with respect to increasing number endangered and extinct species in order to protect the wildlife and its habitats which include the following: -

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

Government has introduced The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 which has provided strict rules and punishment for the same whenever there is violation of the act. The Act applies to whole India except Jammu and Kashmir. The act also provides for prohibition of any equipment, vehicle or weapon that is potentially used for the purpose of committing offence against wildlife. The act also provides the highest degree of protection to the extremely rare and endangered animals in India.

NATIONAL PARKS, SANCTUARIES ETC- The government has reserved certain areas and restricted such Areas as categorizing them as National Parks[4], wildlife Sanctuaries[5], Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves in India to protect the endangered species and to give them better habitat in such areas and in order to improve to condition.

Financial Assistance:

Government is proactively participating and in providing financial assistance to the States and Union Territories Governments under the Central Sponsored Scheme of 'Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats', in order to provide protection to wildlife and to improve their habitat.

Aid From Local Communities

The local communities are active and are helping in conservation by contributing to the activities which helps the forest departments for protecting endangered species and wildlife.

The Wild Life Crime Control Bureau

'WCCB' which stands for The Wild Life Crime Control Bureau which is statutory body formed in 2007 to combat and collect data which is related to wildlife activities which includes hunting and poaching, unlawful trade of animals etc. accordingly they also advice to the state about the wildlife and ways to protect them.

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 was enacted by parliament to provide safeguard and protection of the wildlife in India. This act plays an important role and plays an integral role in environment. The act has laid down restriction and prohibition on hunting of animals and also provides the punishment for the wildlife offences. This Act was last amended in the year 2006. The Act also provides for the formation of advisory boards, wildlife wardens and confer and provides them their powers and duties.

This act has helped India to become a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild which is CITES. Cites is a treaty which has the main aim and goal of providing protection to endangered species of both animals and plants It is also known as the Washington Convention.

The Act has strictly prohibited the hunting of any sort of endangered species. The act has provided schedules and the animals which are mentioned in the schedules are prohibited from any sort of trade. The act also provides for the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries for animals and national parks, reserves etc. the act has led to the formation of central zoo authority in 1992 which is a central body which keeps its eye on all the zoos in India

The Act contains 6 schedules which ranges to providing varied degree of protection to the wildlife by classifying them in the schedule wise criteria. Species classified under the Schedule I and Schedule II under part 2 gets absolute and highest degree of protection, and any offences committed against any species classified under these schedules imposes the most maximum punishment and penalties.

The schedules also specify and provides that which of the species that may be hunted. Schedule 3 and 4 provides the list of those animals which are not endangered and hunting of the animal mentioned in this schedule will impose less penalty. Schedule 5 provided the list of animals which included ats and crows and can be hunted and there is no penalty imposed. Schedule 6 provides list of plants that cannot be cultivated which includes pitcher plant, kith etc.

The National Board for Wildlife[6] was also constituted by this act and This board acts as an advisory board that offers advice to the central government regarding the issues of wildlife in India. The Act has also provided for the establishment of the National Tiger Conservation Authority which is formed in order to strengthen and increase the tiger conservation in India and to protect tigers from their extinction.

National Parks, Sanctuaries Etc


  • "A Sanctuary is a place of refuge where injured, abandoned, and abused wildlife is allowed to live in peace in their natural environment without any human intervention."
  • In sanctuaries, the endangered species are kept and are protected from hunting and any disturbance.
  • Sanctuaries are made by the notification which is issued by the state government, and they also have the power to alter the boundaries of such sanctuaries by resolution in the state legislature.
  • Human activity is very limited in sanctuaries, and any sort of disturbance is not allowed. They are generally open to the general public, but there are restrictions on who can enter or reside within the limits of the sanctuary.
  • Only public servants or individuals who own immovable property inside are allowed. People using highways passing through any sanctuaries are also permitted inside.
  • Biologists and researchers are permitted inside for their study. The Chief Wildlife Warden, who controls and manages the sanctuaries, may grant permission to individuals for entry or residence in the sanctuary for the study of wildlife, business transactions, and tourism.
  • Sanctuaries can be converted to 'National Park'.

National Parks:

  • National Parks are set by the government to conserve the natural environment.
  • A national park has more restrictions compared to a wildlife sanctuary.
  • National parks are declared by the State government through notification.
  • No alteration of the boundaries of a national park can be made except by way of a resolution passed by the State Legislature.
  • The purpose of a national park is to protect the natural environment. Their boundaries are fixed and defined.
  • No human activity is allowed in national parks. Grazing of livestock and private tenurial rights are not permitted.
  • Species mentioned in the Schedules of the Wildlife Act are not allowed to be hunted or captured. They cannot be downgraded to the status of a 'sanctuary'.

Conservation Reserves:

  • The State government may declare an area as conservation reserves after consultation with the local communities.

Community Reserves:

  • The State government may declare any private or community land as a community reserve after consulting with the local community or an individual who has volunteered to conserve the wildlife.

Tiger Reserves:

  • They are declared on the recommendations by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
  • These areas are reserved for the protection and conservation exclusively of tigers in India.

The Wild Life Crime Control Bureau

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, also known as WCCB, is a statutory body which is formed under and functions under the Ministry of Environment. WCCB was Established in 2008, The WCCB is headquartered in New Delhi, and it also has five regional offices in addition to Mumbai, Kolkata, Jabalpur, and Chennai. It also assists foreign authorities and international organizations. It Collects intelligence related to wildlife offences. The bureau co-ordinate actions by various agencies in connection with the provisions of the Act. It also assists State Governments with matters regarding to wildlife crimes and also advices the central Government of India on issues of wildlife crimes

Section 51 of wildlife protection act of 1972 provides for penalties, Wherein:
  • Offence related to Schedule I or Schedule II of Part II -Minimum 3 yrs. Imprisonment up to 7 yrs. and fine not less than 10,000/. On subsequent offence, Minimum 3 yrs. Imprisonment which may go up to 7 yrs. and Minimum fine of 25,000.
  • 2. Hunting in a National Park or Sanctuary boundaries: Minimum 3 yrs. Imprisonment which may extend up to 7 yrs. and fine not less than 10,000/. On second and subsequent offence, minimum 3years which may go up to 7 years and fine 25,000

Judicial Intervention In Wildlife And Endangered Species Protection

  • Chief Forest Conservator (Wildlife) v. Nisar Khan, 2003[8] In this case, the appellant was a dealer in birds which were found in abundance in the State of Uttar Pradesh. He was carrying his business on the license granted by the state government which was valid up till 1990. When the term of such license was expired, he submitted his application for renewal of his license, but the license was refused to be granted on the ground that in order to carry his business of breeding he need to trap them. The respondent challenged the order of the High Court and filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court contending that it was the violation of article 19[9]. The Supreme Court held that the licensing authority has rightly refused to renew the license as the business of breeding birds in captivity by procuring them by trapping is prohibited under section 9 and section 26(19) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The appellant's plea of his violation of fundamental right was refused.
  • Naveen Raheja vs Union of India, 2001[10] In this case Naveen Raheja was a wildlife enthusiast and he filed a public interest litigation under article 32, stating and highlighting the issue abouts tiger's situation in India that the tigers are kept captive in the zoo in Bhubaneswar and the tigress was skinned alive at Nehru zoological park in Hyderabad. He raised his concern over the welfare of the animals both in the reserved forests and in the zoos. The Supreme Court held that it was horrendous activity that was done by human by keeping animals in agony and torturous pain.
  • State of Bihar v. Murad Ali Baig (1989)[11] This case is about the hunting of elephants and whether it is justified under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the necessary provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act. The word "hunting" has been defined under Section 2(16) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 The Supreme Court held that since the elephant was an animal and is falling under the list of animals which is mentioned under Schedule I, then it can be assumed that the hunting of elephants is prohibited.
  • Tilak Bahadur Rai v. State of Arunachal Pradesh (1979)[12] In this case the accused shot and killed a Tiger. The court held that while deciding whether the accused acted in good faith or not when he killed a wild animal, it is important to understand the nature and dangers surrounded the accused and under what circumstances the accused has killed the animal. After due consideration, the Court stated that the accused shot the tiger in order to protect himself and there was no means of protecting himself other than shooting the tiger.
  • T.N. Godavarma Thirumulpad v. Union of India, 2012[13] In the case petitioner filed a petition under Article 32[14] in Supreme Court stating that the state governments of Chhattisgarh and the Union of India must take necessary steps to save the Asiatic Wild Buffalo which is an endangered species and also to ensure that the interbreeding of the wild and domestic buffalo does not take place so that the genetic purity of Asiatic wild buffalo is maintained. The Supreme Court gave detailed Directed to the State government of Chhattisgarh to implement the scheme in order to save the wild buffalo from extinction.

India has been always home to many diverse species but due to various causes like hunting, loss of habitat there has been lot of species that have been extinct and endangered but however, With the efforts of government and judiciary the India is now able to protect its endangered species through a proper rules and regulation and framework adopted by act and laws. With the time and seriousness of the endangerment of species laws are made in accordance to that and are very strict and till now India has not announced its any species extinct and is continuously working to protect its biodiversity

Although very strict laws have been passed but still, they are not properly implemented and are not taken seriously as hey are disregarded by people in India, this is because concerned citizens do no emphasize on taking the legal pathway. At the same time, the Indian legislation needs to be stricter in order to make a more impact to protect endangered species. It should also include all sorts of animals to be protected and preserved. To conclude that not only government it is the duty and

  1. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 �2(37)
  2. State of Bihar v. Murad Ali Baig, AIR 1989 SC 1 (1989)
  3. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 � 2(1)
  4. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 � 2(21)
  5. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 � 2(26)
  6. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 � 5A
  7. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 � 38L
  8. Chief Forest Conservator (Wild Life) v. Nisar Khan, AIR 2003 SC 1867 (2003)
  9. Const. of India, art. 19
  10. Naveen Raheja v. Union of India, (2001) 9 SCC 762
  11. State of Bihar v. Murad Ali Baig, AIR 1989 SC 1
  12. Tilak Bahadur Rai v. State of Arunachal Pradesh, 1979 Cr. L.J. 1404
  13. T. N. God Varman Tirumala v. Union of India & OR's, 1995. 202
  14. Const. of India, art. 42

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