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Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
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The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species. Before 1972, India only...

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species. Before 1972, India only had five designated national parks. Among other reforms, the Act established schedules of protected plant and animal species; hunting or harvesting these species was largely outlawed.

The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants; and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. It extends to the whole of the country, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir which has its own wildlife act. It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection. Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide 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. The Enforcement authorities have powers to compound offences under this Schedule. Up to April 2010 there have been 16 convictions under this act relating to the death of tigers.

Penalties are prescribed in Section 51. Enforcement can be performed by agencies such as the Forest Department, the Police, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), the Customs and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Charge-sheets can be filed directly by the Forest Department. Other enforcement agencies, often due to the lack of technical expertise, hand over cases to the Forest Department.

The 2002 Amendment Act, which came into force in January, 2003, has made punishment and penalty for offences under the Act more stringent. In order to improve the intelligence gathering in wildlife crime, the existing provision for rewarding the informers has been increased from 20 percent of the fine and composition money respectively to 50 percent in each case. In addition to this, a reward up to Rs 10,000 is also proposed to be given to the informants and others who provide assistance in detection of crime and apprehension of the offender.

At present, persons having ownership certificate in respect of Schedule I and Part II animals, can sell or gift such articles. This has been amended with a view to curb illegal trade, and thus no person can now acquire Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II animals, articles or trophies except by way of inheritance (except live elephants).

Stringent measures have also been proposed to forfeit the properties of hardcore criminals who have already been convicted in the past for heinous wildlife crimes. These provisions are similar to the provisions of 'Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985'. Provisions have also been made empowering officials to evict encroachments from Protected Areas.

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