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 Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill

Context:

The Lok Sabha passed the Wildlife (Protection), Amendment Bill, with no significant modifications to the version of the Bill presented in the House for discussion.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
  2. Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill: Key Features

About Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

  • WPA provides for the protection of the country’s wild animals, birds and plant species, in order to ensure environmental and ecological security.
  • It provides for state wildlife advisory boards, regulations for hunting wild animals and birds,
  • establishment of sanctuaries and national parks, regulations for trade in wild animals, animal products and trophies, and judicially imposed penalties for violating the Act.
  • The act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants.
  • It provides for protection of hunting rights of the Scheduled Tribes in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • It has provisions for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • It regulates the trade of wild animals, birds and plants.
  • It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
    • Species listed in Schedule I and part II of Schedule II get absolute protection — offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
    • Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
    • Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted.
    • The plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting
Schedule ISpecies: Endangered species. Penalty: Harsh with imprisonment Hunting: Not allowed. Trade: Prohibited Examples: Tiger, Blackbuck, Himalayan Brown Bear, Brow-Antlered Deer, Blue whale, Common Dolphin, Cheetah, Clouded Leopard, Hornbills, Indian Gazelle, and many others.Schedule II Penalty: Harsh Hunting: Not allowed. Trade: Prohibited Examples: Kohinoor (insect), Assamese Macaque, Bengal Hanuman langur, Large Indian Civet, Indian Fox, Larger Kashmir Flying Squirrel, Kashmir Fox and many others.
Schedule III & IV Species: Not Endangered. Penalty: Less compare to I & II Hunting: Not allowed.   Examples: Hyena, Himalayan rat, porcupine, flying fox, Malabar tree toad, etc.Schedule V Hunting: Allowed. Examples: Mice, Rat, common crow, fruit bats, etc.
Schedule VI Species: Include plants that are forbidden from cultivation Examples: Pitcher plant, Blue Vanda, Red vanda, Kuth, etc. 

Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill: Key Features

CITES: 

  • CITES is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.  
  • Under CITES, plant and animal specimens are classified into three categories (Appendices) based on the threat to their extinction.  
  • The Convention requires countries to regulate the trade of all listed specimens through permits.  
  • It also seeks to regulate the possession of live animal specimens.  
  • The Bill seeks to implement these provisions of CITES.  

Rationalising schedules: 

  • Currently, the Act has six schedules for specially protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one).  
  • Vermin refers to small animals that carry disease and destroy food.  
  • The Bill reduces the total number of schedules to four by:
    • Reducing the number of schedules for specially protected animals to two (one for greater protection level), 
    • Removes the schedule for vermin species, and
    • Inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES (scheduled specimens).

Obligations under CITES:   

  • The Bill provides for the central government to designate a:
    • Management Authority, which grants export or import permits for trade of specimens,
    • Scientific Authority, which gives advice on aspects related to impact on the survival of the specimens being traded.  
  • Every person engaging in trade of a scheduled specimen must report the details of the transaction to the Management Authority.  
  • As per CITES, the Management Authority may use an identification mark for a specimen.  
  • The Bill prohibits any person from modifying or removing the identification mark of the specimen.  
  • Additionally, every person possessing live specimens of scheduled animals must obtain a registration certificate from the Management Authority.

Invasive alien species: 

  • The Bills empowers the central government to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of invasive alien species.  
  • Invasive alien species refers to plant or animal species which are not native to India and whose introduction may adversely impact wild life or its habitat.  
  • The central government may authorise an officer to seize and dispose the invasive species. 

Control of sanctuaries: 

  • The Act entrusts the Chief Wild Life Warden to control, manage and maintain all sanctuaries in a state.  
  • The Chief Wild Life Warden is appointed by the state government.  
  • The Bill specifies that actions of the Chief Warden must be in accordance with the management plans for the sanctuary.  
  • These plans will be prepared as per guidelines of the central government, and as approved by the Chief Warden.  
  • For sanctuaries falling under special areas, the management plan must be prepared after due consultation with the concerned Gram Sabha.  Special areas include a Scheduled Area or areas where the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 is applicable.  
  • Scheduled Areas are economically backward areas with a predominantly tribal population, notified under the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution.

Conservation reserves: 

  • Under the Act, state governments may declare areas adjacent to national parks and sanctuaries as a conservation reserve, for protecting flora and fauna, and their habitat.  
  • The Bill empowers the central government to also notify a conservation reserve.

Surrender of captive animals: 

  • The Bill provides for any person to voluntarily surrender any captive animals or animal products to the Chief Wild Life Warden.  
  • No compensation will be paid to the person for surrendering such items.  
  • The surrendered items become property of the state government. 

-Source: The Hindu


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