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Poaching: A Dreadful Act

The Greatness of A Nation And Its Moral Progress Can Be Judged By The Way Its Animals Are Treated.- Mahatma Gandhi

The earth sustains all life forms. At its root, our economic plight is crisis in consciousness because we see ourselves as separate from our environment. Nature is the paramount and fundamental part of mankind. It is one of the greatest blessings for human life, however nowadays human fail to accept it as one.

Nature is general and therefore it is a shared resource. Everybody gets benefits from it, but nobody owns it. It is very easy for an individual to take more part than his actual one; but if everyone try to do this then the resources of nature will collapse one day and then everybody will suffer.

Therefore, people of the modern age should start valuing nature before it gets too late.

Every form of nature, for instance, the plants, animals, river and others hold equal significance for us. Absence of one element is enough to cause a catastrophe in the functioning of human life.
Each and every life form is necessary but from past few decades the human life have become dominant over others and WE humans started suppressing the other ones. Most recently, the demand for wildlife and plants.

Humans demand wildlife in various forms. It can be in the form of food, leather and textiles, ornaments and for other luxuries. All these things leads to exploitation of nature which resulted in extinction of various life forms such as:
birds, fishes, reptiles and wild animals and these activities leads to imbalances in the natural life.

Our Mother Earth is discomforted from a significant issue of Illegal Poaching and trafficking of Animals. Animal poaching means illegal hunting, killing or capturing of animals. It can also be referred to the taking of animals from wildlife sanctuary, such as a national park, game reserve or zoo. This is done internationally as well as domestically.

Animal poaching is very inferior thing that can't be thought off. It is barbaric act that can lead to dismantling of animals. It causes unbalancing of ecosystem and threat to animals. Due to these acts many animals are being endangered and some of them even became extinct such as Rhino, Tigers, Turtles and many more.

Poachers aim to gain profit without thinking or considering the loss that they are causing to the ecosystem. Illegal wildlife trafficking is a worldwide business worth between $7 billion and $23 billion annually. Poachers must understand that wildlife is one of the basic and natural resources that satisfies the needs and wants of civilization. Therefore, this resource must be conserved, preserved and protected for the existence of the mankind.

Why Animals Are Poached?

Poachers kill or capture animals to sell them either locally or for the global trade. Some animals, such as birds, reptiles and primates are captured live so that later they can be kept or sold as pets.
  • Elephants are poached for their tusks.
  • Bears are poached for specific organs, for their skin, meat, claws, and other trophies. Bear bile farming is a system designed to cruelly and tortuously extract bile from bears.
  • Big horn sheep are hunted for their antlers.
  • The tiger is poached for its body parts that are used to make Chinese traditional medicines.
  • Pangolins are poached for the scales, which protect them against predators in the wild. The scales are used in traditional Asian medicine
  • The jaguar is often hunted for its body parts.
  • Mother and young Rhinoceros killed for their horns.
  • Giraffe in Central Africa are being killed for their tails, which are considered a status symbol in some communities.
  • Turtle are unsustainably harvested for their meat and eggs, which are a source of income around the world.

Slaughtered animals have commercial value as for food, jewelry, d├ęcor and for traditional medicines. Apart from killing for profit, animals are killed to prevent them from destroying the crops, fields or villagers livestock.

Indeed, the planet is experiencing startling levels of species loss caused in sizeable part by intensified poaching stimulated by a markedly demand for animals and wildlife products. The rate of species extinction is now as much as 1000 times the historical average and even it is worst since the Dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. Taking note of everything we can also mention that illegal trafficking and poaching poses threats to national security in some circumstances.

Some of the common Impacted Species are:
  • African Elephant.
  • Amur Leopard.
  • Black Rhino.
  • Green Turtle.
  • Hawksbill Turtle.
  • Indian Elephant.
  • Bear.
  • Leatherback Turtle.
  • Orangutan.
  • Sunda Tiger.

Indian Context
India is a home to some of the most charismatic animals on the planet, such as- Tiger, Rhino, Leopard and many species of snakes. Previously, these dignified animals were used for sports hunting and were protected under Wildlife Protection Act of India. But, unfortunately the population of these splendid wild animals of India is decreasing because of Poaching for their various parts.

As per recent available records of Wildlife Crime Control Board (WCCB), over 9253 poachers have been arrested in wildlife poaching across India during the period of 2012-2018. This piece is received from state forest and police authorities.

There have been 141 cases of poaching and 84 seizures between 2012 and 2018 as per National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The data also provides that above of all the states the maximum number of poaching and seizures are reported in the state of Madhya Pradesh with 31 in poaching and 12 in the seizure.

Some Cases Of Poaching Of Wild Animals In India

  • Monitor Lizards were the target of the poachers in Northeast India.
  • Amur Falcon Birds poached in Nagaland for consumption and for commercial sale.
  • There is high demand for Indian Geckos for HIV cures.
  • Great Indian Bustard is being poached in the state of Rajasthan.
  • Extinction of the species of Indian Star Tortoise.
  • Paint brushes have become the biggest threat to the face of the Mongoose; which is really disheartening.
  • Poaching of Deer in Chattisgarh.
  • Indian Pangolins is being poached for meat and medicinal purpose.
  • Rhinos are being killed by poachers in Kaziranga National Park in Assam.
  • Killing of Elephants with electrified power lines.

The country lost 110 Tigers in 2019 and also came up with death of 491 Leopards. Poaching killed a total of 38 Tigers and 128 Leopards as mentioned by the survey conducted by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). Around 30,000 species are driven to extinction every year.

One can probably guess what the consequences of poaching are. It's endangering the very existence of several species. Even this brutal poaching has adverse effects on local communities and also to the environment as well. This inferior act also causes lack of natural resources which is one of the greatest blessing and even food borne illnesses as well.

Laws Enacted:

Prevention And Cruelty Of Animals Act, 1960:

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 prohibits any person from inflicting, causing, or if it is the owner, permitting, unnecessary pain or suffering to be inflicted on any animal. The Act makes it a crime to beat, kick, torture, mutilate, administer an injurious substance, or cruelly kill an animal.

It is an offense to cruelly transport, confine, chain or tether an animal. It is a violation to engage in animal fighting or shooting competitions in which animals are released from captivity to be shot. An owner commits an offense if he or she fails to provide sufficient food, drink or shelter, unreasonably abandons any animal, or permits any diseased or disabled animal to roam or die in any street.
  • S.11 explains Treating Animals Cruelly and sub-section (1) keeps on describing the cruel acts which can be inflicted on an animal. And when the same is being done it is an offence punishable under this act.
  • S.22 explains Restriction on exhibition and training of performing animals; it is mentioned that no person shall exhibit or train any animal until and unless he is registered according to the provisions. And it is also described that no person is allowed to train or exhibit any animal which is prohibited by the Central Government as mentioned in the official gazette.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:

In 1972, Indian Parliament passed a comprehensive national law- the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (WLPA); with the sole aim of protecting wildlife, birds and plants and for matters connected thereto or ancillary or incidental thereto with a view to ensuring the ecological and environmental security of the country.[1] It not only prohibits hunting but also created protected areas and controls trade in wildlife products. To achieve these objectives, it has created a separate and independent authority to protect and improve wildlife.

It was mentioned by the Supreme Court that, the act has been passed to ensure the ecological and environmental security of the country.[2]

The act consists of 60 Sections with VI Schedules and that are divided in VIII Chapters.
  • S.9 explains about Prohibition of Hunting; that no person shall hunt any wild animal which are depicted in Schedule I to IV expect to the ones that are mentioned in Sections 11 and 12.
In case of Chief Forest Conservator (Wildlife) vs. Nisar Khan that hunting has been prohibited of nay wild animals[3], unless permitted by the CWW in writing if the animal becomes dangerous to human life, or disabled or diseased beyond recovery, or a danger to property.
  • S.39 explains that wild animals will be the property of the State Government.
  • S.50 of the said act gives power to the Director or any other person authorized by him in this behalf or the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) or the authorized officer or any forest officer or any police officer not below the rank of a sub-inspector may, if he has reasonable grounds for believing that any person has committed an offence against this act to arrest him.
The court reiterated in T.N.Godavarman vs. Union of India[4] and Centre for Environmental Law, World Wide Fund India vs. Union of India[5] that necessary safeguards must be taken and should be provided to the rare species of flora and fauna. The court applied the ecocentric approach.

The court has declared in World Wide Fund India vs. Union of India[6] that the provisions of the Wildlife Act are statutory and are necessary to be implemented to maintain ecological chain and balance.

Constitution Of India

It is been made clear by the Supreme Court that Article.21 protects not only the human rights but casts an obligation on human being to protect and preserve a species becoming extinct, conservation and protection of environment is an inseparable part of right to life[7]. It is the duty of the State to protect the wildlife and conserve it.

The WLPA serves the Constitutional Purpose mentioned under Articles 48-A and 51-A (g) as it prohibits hunting of wild animals except in certain circumstances.[8]

Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • S. 428 explains that whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless any animals or animal of the value of the ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
  • S.429 explains that whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless, any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, bull, cow or ox, whatever may be the value thereof, of any other animal of the value of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.

It is being analyzed that poaching is a major issue for large number of animal species and it is problematic for the entire planet and the nature. Poaching is not the problem that is to be faced and solved by the future generation instead it is something which is to be considered and taken into care and fixed today.

We can also ponder on the fact that even there are various international and national organizations looking upon wildlife even though crimes in the field of wildlife are increasing at an alarming rate. There are various loopholes which are to be considered and to be dealt by the judicial system.

It's the duty of WE humans to protect, safeguard and take care of every species which helps in building this nature and our MOTHER EARTH, so now let's come together and create awareness for protecting our planet.

  1. Incorporated by the Amendment Act, 2002.
  2. T.N.Godavarman Thirumulpad vs. Union of India (2012) 4 SCC 362.
  3. (2003) 4 SCC 277, 286.
  4. (2012) 8 SCC 234
  5. (2012) 4 SCC 362
  6. (2013) 8 SCC 234. 252
  7. Centre for Environmental Law, World Wide Fund India vs. Union of India (2013) 8 SCC 234, 256.
  8. Sansar Chand vs. State of Rajasthan, (2010) 10 SCC 604.

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