The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 provides for the protection of the listed
species of flora and fauna and creates a network of ecologically important
protected areas. The law consists of 66 sections and VI schedules, which are
divided into eight chapters. The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 gives central
and state governments the power to designate any area as a nature reserve,
national park, or closed area. There is a complete ban on carrying out
commercial activities in these protected areas.
The authorities are required to oversee and execute the act; control the hunting
and poaching of wild animals, protection of certain plants, protected areas,
national parks and closed areas, restrict trade in wild animals or objects of
animal origin, and various matters. The law prohibits hunting of animals, except
with the permission of an authorized officer, when an animal has become
dangerous to human life or property, or is disabled or sick and cannot recover.
Since the dawn of mankind, humans have always crossed the confines of the animal
world for its survival. In the early days, humans sacrificed wildlife for food,
clothing, and shelter, as well as other basic needs. Presently, the ever
demanding approach of humans have done a lot of damage to wildlife as well as
forests. Humans have become an important evolutionary force, and while we do not
have the knowledge to control the biosphere, we certainly have the power to
radically change and destroy it.
The Government of India implemented the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 with the
purpose of efficiently protecting the wildlife of this country and further
controlling hunting, smuggling and illegal trade in wild animals and their
derivatives. This act came into effect on September 9, 1972.
In 1976, the environment received its provision under the Constitution of India
in the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution. For environmentalists, it is
characterized by the fact that the environment is part of the constitution. The
Wildlife Act of 1972 was the first general law to set schedules for the
protection of various plant and animal species. Hence, the act provides for the
protection of wildlife, plants, and birds, and related or additional or
Under the act, India's central government will set up the National Board for
Wildlife (NBWL), which will serve as the lead body for reviewing all
wildlife-related issues and approving projects in and around national parks and
protected areas. The NBWL is directed by the Prime Minister and is responsible
for promoting the protection and development of wildlife and forests. The
Minister for the Environment, Forests and Climate Change is the Vice-President
of the Board of Directors. The board is by nature "advisory" and can only advise
the government on the formulation of guidelines for the protection of wildlife.
As per the study of Wildlife Protection Society of India, in 2017 some of the
wild animals which are illegally traded and poached in 2015-2016 are- Black
Bucks, Blue Bills, Chinkaras, Elephants, Tigers, Peacock, Rhinoceros, Deer, Wild
In India, attempts were made a long ago to save wildlife through implementing
the Indian Forests Act of 1927, which placed hunting restrictions in protected
forests. Before that, in order to protect wild birds, Britishers had implemented
Bird Protection Act, 1887. Presently, Section 51A (g) of the Constitution of
India fundamentally obliges every Indian citizen to protect and improve the
History Of Wildlife Protection In India
India is very rich with flora and fauna in its forests. Indian forests are
state-owned. India is one of the world's twelve mega-biodiversity countries.
India's forest act and regulations have played a crucial role in the
deforestation process. The "tragedy of the commons" argument is a chief factor
for the state-property rights regime.
In ancient India, protecting the environment was a moral and ethical duty
imposed on people by religious scriptures, seers, and other organizations. The
scriptures of the Hindu religion emphasize the protection of the environment and
living beings. Various plant and animal species were considered to be the
domicile of the gods. Kautilya, one of the great political philosophers, banned
and imposed penalties for killing animals, cutting trees, and overexploiting
Indian wildlife has had periodic protection for over a century, thanks to a
variety of species-specific regulations. Most early statutes were primarily
intended to protect game animals from being hunted. The Indian Forest Act of
1927 established sanctuaries and provided rules for hunting limitations in
reserved or guarded forests.
The provisions for environmental protection in the constitution were made within
four years of Stockholm Conference, in 1976, though the 42nd amendment as
- Article 48-A of the constitution provides:
The state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to
safeguard forest and wildlife of the country.
- Article 51-A (g) of the constitution provides:
It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the
natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to
have compassion for living creatures.
As a result, one of our fundamental duties under our constitution is to protect
and conserve the environment. Some of the most significant Acts passed by the
Government of India are covered in this section.
The passage of the Wildlife Act of 1972 was a watershed moment in the country's
wildlife legislation history. This is because the Forest including Wildlife
was then a State subject falling under Entry 20 List II of the Seventh Schedule,
Parliament had no power to make laws on the subject except as provided in
Articles 249, 250, and 252 of the constitution.
There are many legislations and acts implemented for the protection of wild
Some of them are:
- The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972;
- The Wild Life (Transactions and Taxidermy) Rules, 1973;
- The Wild Life (Stock Declaration) Central Rules, 1973;
- The Wild life (Protection) Licensing (Additional Matters for
Consideration) Rules, 1983
- The Wild Life (Protection) Rules, 1995;
- The Wild Life (Specified Plants - Conditions for Possession by Licensee)
- Forest Conservation Act, 1980; Forest (Conservation) Rules, 1981;
- National Forest Policy, 1988; Biological Diversity Act, 2002;
Besides these Acts, there are many legislations on Air, Water, Environment,
Hazardous substance management, Solid waste management, Noise Pollution
prevention, Project Tiger, 1973; Project Elephant, 1991 and so on.
The main reasons for implementing this act were that India has been facing a
rapid reduction in birds and wild-animals. They are the richest and most varied
wildlife resources of India and which had given a rise to serious burden. There
are many animals and birds that have been extinct for a long time and some are
on the verge of being extinct.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
This part reads out the definitions and restrictions of the implementation of
Previously the act was restricted to all parts of the country except of Jammu
and Kashmir. After revoking article 370 in 2019, the act is now implemented in
Jammu and Kashmir as well. This chapter defines all the terms and details of the
artefacts which are considered illegal now.
captive animals, circus, closed areas, forest officer, reserved forest, sanctuary, zoo etc. Trading, hunting, capturing, poisoning of any wild animal is
considered a punishable offence.
This chapter provides all the appointment of the advisory committee, wildlife
warden, their powers and duties.
The federal government appoints the Chief Wildlife Warden, Director and
Assistant Directors of Wildlife Preservation and other officers and workers that
may be necessary. In order to exercise their power, the director may give orders
and directions from time to time. All the assistants and other officers are
subordinates to the director.
The power of delegate can be given to a subordinate officer by the director with
the permission of the federal government. The same can be performed by the Chief
Wildlife Warden with the approval of the state government.
Once the act is commenced the state government or administrator, in case of
union territory appoints a Wildlife Advisory Board. The state government or
Union territories appoint officers and secretary and ministers to be in charge
of the forests in those particular areas.
The advisory board is supposed to hold meetings at least twice a year, approved
by the state government. The role of the board is to advice the state in
selection of the areas and forest that should be declared sanctuaries, closed
areas, national parks and so on, and formulating plans and policies to protect
such areas. They also take measures for the welfare of the tribal people and
other dwellers in protecting the wildlife.
This chapter deals with the hunting of animals. It prohibits the hunting of wild
animals. Although hunting of animals is permitted in certain cases- if the chief
wildlife warden agrees that a certain wild animal (listed in Schedule 1) is
dangerous to man-life or disabled or diseased that cannot be recovered, then
with the given permission and order in writing and stating the reason the animal
has to be hunted.
Likewise, if an animal (listed in Schedule 2, Schedule 3 or
Schedule 4) has become a danger to mankind and to property, such animals with
the order and permission of the chief wildlife warden, the gives authority to a
person to hunt that animal. If an animal is hurt or wounded by a person during
self-defence, it will not be considered an offence and that animal would then be
considered government’s property.
Hunting of animals can be granted for special reasons such as scientific
research, scientific management, education and collection for specimen.
The chief wildlife warden can suspend or revoke the license of an officer or
worker for a good reason which is to be recorded in writing and it should be
considered with the state government.
This chapter provides the rules for the protection of specified flora. It says
anyone who cuts, destroys, wilfully pluck or pick specified plants from the
forest area and trade them dead or alive are liable to the central government.
Uprooting of plants whether dead or alive without permission for personal use is
considered illegal. Although permission can be granted with a previous
permission from the state government for plucking, uprooting flora in case of
scientific advancements, education or diffusing the plants by an individual or
No individual is allowed to plant a tree in the forest area without the
permission of chief wildlife warden or an authorised officer approved by the
state government. A licensed individual cannot start a business as a dealer in
certain flora. If an individual was already in a business as a dealer of flora
before the commencement of the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 1991(sixty
days before the commencement) that individual has to gain a licence from the
government in order to continue with it. Every granted licence has a specific
area in which they can plant a tree and the conditions are subjected to it.
Any individual who was trading specific flora, dead or alive, has to inform the
warden or an official authorised by the state government after thirty days from
the commencement of the act.
An individual, cannot keep the flora, dead or alive, or illegally obtained or
acquire, offered to sell or sold in his/her control without informing the warden
or the officer authorised by the state except if the license has been granted to
Acquiring, receiving or buy of specific flora apart from a licensed individual
is considered illegal.
If any part of the flora and fauna taken or acquired illegally from the forest
area fall under the responsibility of the state government and if such a thing
happens in national parks or sanctuaries, it falls under the responsibility of
the federal government.
The state government can declare a specific land as sanctuary where it thinks
that the particular land has flora and fauna and ecological values. A collector
is appointed who checks whether that particular land belongs to someone or not
and they shall regulate the existence of wild animals and plants.
If an individual claims a right on a particular piece of land, partly or wholly
the collector can either exclude such a part of land from the limits of the
proposed sanctuary or the claimant and the government have an agreement where
the claimant agrees to give the piece of land to the government or if he claims
any right on that piece of land, to the collector with two months of the
commencement of the notice, that person by specifying the nature of the will or
details can claim a compensation, under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
There are certain powers or rights given to the collector such as, they may
enter that land conduct a survey, distinguish and even set up a map for the same
or authorise any officer to do so.
A land which consists of flora, fauna and zoological and natural significance is
required to be included in the sanctuary. The state shall declare the limits of
the specified area for the sanctuary and declare it as a sanctuary to a period
specified in the circular. If the land consists of territorial waters, a
permission of the federal government is required to declare that piece of land
as a sanctuary. The limits of the territorial water which is to be included in
the sanctuary should be consulted with the Chief Naval Hydrographer of the
Central Government and estimate to protect water for the occupational fishermen.
There are certain restrictions on the entry in the sanctuary. The people who can
enter the sanctuary are a servant who is on duty, any person passing through the
highway, a person who has permission to stay, by the warden or any authorised
officer, an individual who has rights to the immovable property inside the
sanctuary. The permission can be given for photography, scientific research,
tourism, study of wildlife and transactional business with someone residing in
There are certain restrictions for the people who reside in the sanctuary. If a
felony has been performed, the people have to arrest the wrongdoer. They have to
inform the chief warden or any authorised officer about the death of a certain
animal. No person is allowed to move, destroy, change the boundaries of the
sanctuary or to cause wrongful profits. It is a felony in the Indian Penal Code
(45 of 1860).
Decisions regarding construction of bridges, fences, roads and buildings or any
other work necessary for the sanctuary. He shall take precautions for the safety
of animals and plants. He can take steps for the improvements of flora and
fauna. Grazing and movements of live stocks might be regulated. In case of any
communicable diseases, the livestock have to be immunised within five kilometres
of a sanctuary. No person is allowed to graze live stocks without getting
Any land with ecological, geographical, or zoologically importance within the
sanctuaries or beyond it can be considered a National park by the state
government, by providing a notification which provides the limits of the land,
to preserve the environment and the flora and fauna surviving within it.
The state government has all the rights on the proposed land for the national
park. If an individual claims right on that land, he has the same just as the
sanctuaries claimants do. The state government has to authority to take
decisions for the management and welfare of the flora and fauna in the national
Alterations and changings in the boundaries can be made only if the Legislation
of the particular State passes a resolution.
Destroying or exploiting the flora and fauna is not allowed except when the
state government allows for the welfare and improvement of the National Park.
Grazing of live stock is strictly prohibited inside the National Park except
where live stock is used as a vehicle by the people who are authorised to enter
There are certain restrictions for the people who reside in the national park.
An individual is bound to prevent any crime against the rules of this act. If a
felony has been performed, the people have to arrest the wrongdoer. They have to
inform the chief warden or any authorised officer about the death of a certain
To stop any fire, if he has the information of within the sanctuary and
to help the chief wildlife warden and the police officers to prevent further
crime in the national park. No person is allowed to move, destroy, change the
boundaries of the national park or to cause wrongful profits. It is a felony in
the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860). No person is allowed to tease or torture any
animal, littering the national park.
By circulars the state government can declare a land closed for hunting for a
stated amount of time in the circular.
Central Zoo Authority And Recognition Of Zoos
The central government has to form an authority Central Zoo Authority which
will to perform the functions given by the central government. The authority
consists of Chairman and members (less than ten) and the federal government will
elect the Member- Secretary.
The allowances of the members and chairman and member-secretary would be
prescribed. If the Authority seems to need extra man-power they can employ such
officers, permission to be granted by the federal government. The terms and
conditions of which would be prescribed. The functions of the authority are to
maximise the care and housing of zoo animal, to recognise the non-recognised
zoos and like them its identity, to maintain the standards of the zoos, to
ensure the display of animals in various themes, provide scientific and
technical assistance etc.
The authority can meet when necessary or when the chairman thinks fit. It shall
regulate its own proceedings and the decisions made by shall be verified with
the member-secretary and or an officer appointed by him.
The authority will receive funds from the federal government known as the
Central Zoo Authority Fund which can be used for meeting the allowances of the
workers and officers. The accounts of which should be prepared and the final
report should be submitted to the federal government annually.
A zoo cannot operate if it is not recognised by the Authority. If a zoo was
there before the commencement of the act, then they have to apply for
registration, on payment of fees, within eighteen months, if it is approved then
the zoo can stay if not, they have to close the zoo with six months. The zoo can
only be recognised only if it maintains its protection of animals, welfare and
standards. If the standards are not maintained the zoo will further unrecognised.
An appeal from an order refusing to recognise a zoo under sub-section (5) or an
order suspending or cancelling a recognition under sub-section (6) shall lie to
the Central Government Provided, however, that the Federal Government may admit
any appeal filed after the expiry of the aforementioned period (thirty days) if
it is satisfied that the appellant had justifiable justification for not filing
Transferring of wild animal from one place to another is prohibited except when
federal government allows. The sanitation of the zoo is to be maintained. No one
is allowed to torture, tease, feed any animal. Animals are not to be disturbed
by any uncanny acts.
Wild animals, other than vermin, who were bred in captivity or hunted or kept,
shall be the property of the government. Similarly, any animal articles, trophy
or uncured trophy, meat, ivory (imported to India) or any article made from such
ivory, vehicle, vessel, trap or tool that has been used to commit an offence and
has been seized shall be the property of the state government.
No person is authorised to acquire or possess or destroy or transfer such
government property without the permission of the Chief Wild Life Warden. The
Chief Wild Life Warden may make inquiries and prepare inventories or issue a
certificate of ownership to any person who, is in lawful possession of any wild
animal or any animal article. The Chief Wild Life Warden may also suspend or
cancel the certificate of ownership or license as he deems fit.
No person is allowed to commence or carry on the business as a dealer in trophy
or uncured trophy, a taxidermist, a manufacturer or dealer in any animal
article, a dealer in animal meat or a dealer in wild or captive animals, unless
they are authorised to do so or have a license for the same.
A person is authorised to buy such animals or animal articles except vermin only
from a licensed dealer. No person is allowed to transfer a wild animal or animal
article across state lines by way of commercial purposes without a certificate
of ownership. When a person transfers or transports a wild animal or an animal
article for which he has a license, to another state, he must report to the
Chief Wild Life Warden or any other authorised officer within thirty days of
transport or transfer.
The Director or any other officer endorsed by him, or the Chief Wild Life Warden
or the authorised officer or any forest officer or any police officer not below
the rank of a sub- inspector, are allowed to; ask a person to produce for
inspection, seize any captive or wild animal or animal article, ask to produce
any documents or licenses, issue a search warrant, enforce the attendance of
witness, and receive and record evidence; if they have rational reasons for
believing that a person has committed an offence against this act.
If a person fails to produce the necessary documents, fails to render assistance
to the authorised person or is found guilty of an offence against this act, the
person in charge permitted to arrest and detain him without warrant.
Only the Director of the Wildlife Preservation, or the Chief Wildlife Warden, or
any other officer authorised by the central or state government, or a person who
has made his intentions clear about filing a complaint 60 days prior, are
authorised to file a complaint against the Wildlife Protection Act.
Any person who violates any provision of Chapter VA (prohibition of trading in
or trafficking in trophies, animal articles, etc. derived from certain animals)
is punished with a prison sentence of at least 7 years, but this can be extended
to seven years and also with a fine that will not be less than five thousand
Any person who violates the provisions of Section 38J (to disturb, tease,
molest, annoy, injure, or feed an animal or polluting the premises of a zoo)
will be sentenced to imprisonment of up to six months or punished with a fine of
up to two thousand rupees or both. For a second or subsequent offense, the
sentence can be extended to one year or the fine to five thousand rupees.
Pursuant to Article 52, anyone who attempts to violate or violate any provision
of this Act or any of the rules of this Act is deemed to be in breach of that
provision or rule or order. If a person exercising powers under this act,
unnecessarily confiscates the property of another person on the pretext of
seizing it for the reasons set out in Article 50, he, if found guilty, will be
dealt with by an imprisonment of six months or a fine of five hundred rupees or
The Central or State Government, or any officer or employee of the Centre or the
State Government shall not be liable for any actions that may or may not have
caused damage, given that the actions taken by them were in good faith.
The Central Government has the power to delete, add, transfer entries from one
schedule to another. The Central Government also has the power to make rules
about licenses, salaries, appointment of members, keep the record of wild
animals submitted by the licensee, etc.
The Continued Existence Of Wildlife And Wilderness Is Important To The
Quality Of Life Of Humans
- There are Six Schedules in this act. These Schedules gives different standard of
- The Listed breeds and types of animals in Schedule I and part II of Schedule II
get supreme protection. For example, Himalayan Brown Bear, Indian Elephant,
Golden Geckos, Andaman Teal, Hornbills, Black Coral, Amara Brucei and many more.
Offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
- The Listed breeds and types of animals in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also
secured, but the penalties are comparatively much lower. For example, Barking
Deer, Falcons, Kingfisher, Tortoise etc.
- Schedule V includes the animals which can be hunted. For example, Common Crow,
Mice, Rats, Fruit Bats etc.
- The plants, trees and crops mentioned in Schedule VI are banned from Cultivation
and Planting. For example, Kuth, Red Vanda, Pitcher Plant etc.
. - Jim Fowler
Several mesmerising types and breeds of animal personify incomparable values,
and at the same period, comprise a major asset base for sustainable development.
Conservation of flora and fauna, accordingly, involves the protection of entire
Just as in Ancient India, a moral and ethical duty to protect our wildlife was
imposed on us through religion, such a duty should always be within us.
We have to keep these viewpoints in mind while going through the Wildlife
(Protection) Act 1972. Since the fauna link in the web of lives, it is our
greatest duty to preserve and protect the richness of flora and fauna as it can
be made available to the upcoming people on this planet. So, the endangered
breeds of flora and fauna should be secured. The Wildlife (protection) Act, with
timely amendments, facilitates the protection of flora and fauna in India.
Award Winning Article Is Written By:
- Shyam Divan and Armin Rosencranz Environmental Law and Policy in India,
Oxford India Paperbacks (2ed.2001) India Paperbacks (2ed.2001
- Sec. 8(cc) inserted by Act of 199 1, see. 8.
- Section 35(1) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
- Chapter IVA inserted by Act 44 of 1991, sec.26 of the Wildlife Protection Act,
- Section 38 H (7) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
- Nirbhay Saxena &
- Sankarshan Roy Of Noida International University,Gautam Buddh
Authentication No: JU116244024140-11-0621