October 4, 2022

Briefing the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972

MEANING OF ANIMAL AND ANIMAL ARTICLE

Animal” includes amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles and their young, and also includes, in the cases of birds and reptiles, their eggs; [Section 2(1)]

“Animal article” means an article made from any captive animal or wild animal, other than vermin, and includes an article or object in which the whole or any part of such animal has been used, and ivory imported into India and an article made therefrom. [Section 2(2)]

MEANING OF HUNTING AND WEAPON

“Hunting” with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions, includes, —

  • killing or poisoning of any wild animal or captive animal and every attempt to do so;
  • capturing, coursing, snaring, trapping, driving or baiting any wild or captive animal and every attempt to do so;
  • injuring or destroying or taking any part of the body of any such animal or, in the case of wild birds or reptiles, damaging the eggs of such birds or reptiles, or disturbing the eggs or nests of such birds or reptiles; [Section 2(16)]

“Weapon” includes ammunition, bows and arrows, explosives, firearms, hooks’ knives, nets poison, snares and traps and any instrument or apparatus capable of anaesthetizing, decoying, destroying, injuring or killing an animal. [Section 2(35)]

MEANING OF CIRCUS AND ZOO

“Circus” means an establishment, whether stationary or mobile, where animals are kept or used wholly or mainly for the purpose of performing tricks or manoeuvres. [Section 2(7A)]

“Zoo” means an establishment, whether stationary or mobile, where captive animals are kept for exhibition to the public and includes a circus and rescue centres but does not include an establishment of a licensed dealer in captive animals. [Section 2(39)]

MEANING OF TROPHY AND UNCURED TROPHY

“Trophy” means the whole or any part of any captive animal or wild animal, other than vermin, which has been kept or preserved by any means, whether artificial or natural, and includes—

  • rugs, skins and specimens of such animal mounted in whole or in part through a process of taxidermy, and
  •  antler, bone, carapace, shell, horn, rhinoceros horn, hair, feather, nail, tooth, tusk, musk, eggs, nests and honeycomb. [section 2(31)]

 “Uncured trophy” means the whole or any part of any captive animal or wild animal, other than vermin, which has not undergone a process of taxidermy, and includes a freshly killed wild animal, ambergris, musk and other animal products. [Section 2(32)]

Taxidermy”, with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions, means the curing, preparation or preservation or mounting of trophies. [Section 2(30)]

MEANING OF WILD LIFE

Wild Life” includes any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat. [Section 2(37)]

Habitat” includes land, water or vegetation which is the natural home of any wild animal. [Section 2(15)]

“Land” includes canals, creeks and other water channels, reservoirs, rivers, streams and lakes, whether artificial or natural, marshes and wetlands and also includes boulders and rocks. [Section 2(17)]

 AUTHORITIES UNDER THE ACT

  • The Central Government may appoint a Director of Wild Life Preservation and other officers for the purpose of this act. [Sec 3]
  • The State Government may appoint Chief Wild Life Warden, Wild Life Wardens, and Honorary Wild Life Wardens and other officers for the purpose of this act. [Sec. 4]
  • The Central Government Shall Constitute the National Board for Wild Life. And This Board will have the duty to promote the conservation and development of wild life and forests. (inserted after Wild Life (protection) Amendment Act, 2002)
  • The state Government shall constitute State Board for wild life. and this board will have the duties to advise the State Government, —
  • in the selection and management of areas to be declared as protected areas;
  • in formulation of the policy for protection and conservation of the wild life and specified plants;
  • in any matter relating to the amendment of any Schedule;
  • in relation to the measures to be taken for harmonising the needs of the tribals and other dwellers of the forest with the protection and conservation of wild life; and
  • in any other matter connected with the protection of wild life, which may be referred to it by the State Government.

                     

HUNTING OF WILD ANIMALS

No person shall hunt any wild animal specified in Schedules I, II, III, and IV.

These Schedules mainly includes MAMMALS, AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES, FISHES (Shark, Ray, sea Horses, Giant Grouper), BIRDS, CRUSTACEA AND INSECTS, COELENTERATES, MOLLUSCA, ECHINODERMATA, WILD ANIMALS, BEETELS etc.

CASES, IN WHICH HUNTING OF ANIMALS IS PERMITTED

1.       BY PERMISSION OF CHIEF WILD LIFE WARDEN IN CERTAIN CASES

In following cases, Chief Wild Life Warden may permit Hunting of animals, by reason recorded in writing-

  • If he is satisfied that any wild animal specified in Schedule I has become dangerous to human life or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, he may permit any person to hunt such animal or cause such animal to be hunted. But no wild animal shall be ordered to be killed unless the Chief Wild Life Warden is satisfied that such animal cannot be captured, tranquilised or translocated.
  • If he is satisfied that any wild animal specified in Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV, has become dangerous to human life or to property (including standing crops on any land) or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, he permit any person to hunt such animal or group of animals in a specified area or cause such animal or group of animals in that specified area to be hunted.

2.       KILLING AND WOUNDING IN GOOD FAITH AND SELF DEFENCE

The killing or wounding in good faith of any wild animal in defence of oneself or of any other person shall not be an offence. But if any person commits any act in contravention to the provisions of this act and for that act, defence from wild animal become necessary, in such case, that person shall not exonerate.

Amy wild animal killed or wounded in defence of any person shall be Government property

  • FOR EDUCATIONAL AND SCINTIFIC PURPOSES

It shall be lawful for the Chief Wild Life Warden, to grant a permit, to any person, on payment of such fee, which shall entitle the holder of such permit to hunt subject to such conditions as may be specified therein, any wild animal specified in such permit, for the purpose of, —

  • education;
  • scientific research;
  • scientific management, it means  
  • translocation of any wild animals to an alternative suitable habitat; or
  • population management of wildlife, without killing or poisoning or destroying any wild animals;
  • collection of specimens—
    • for recognised zoos subject; or
    • for museums and similar institutions;
  • derivation, collection or preparation of snake-venom for the manufacture of life-saving drugs:

But, no such permit shall be granted—

  • in respect of any wild animal specified in Schedule I, except with the previous permission of the Central Government, and
  • in respect of any other wild animal, except with the previous permission of the State Government;

PROTECTION OF LIFE SAVING PLANTS

PROHIBITION OF PICKING, UPROOTING OF SPECIFIED PLANT

No person shall—

  •  wilfully pick, uproot, damage, destroy, acquire or collect any specified plant from any forest land and any area specified, by notification, by the Central Government;
  • possess, sell, offer for sale, or transfer by way of gift or otherwise, or transport any specified plant, whether alive or dead, or part or derivative thereof.

These prohibitions do not apply to a member of a scheduled tribe, form picking, collecting or possessing in the district he resides any specified plant or part or derivative thereof for his bona fide personal use.

GRANT OF PERMIT FOR SPECIAL PURPOSES

The Chief Wild Life Warden may, with the previous permission of the State Government, grant to any person a permit to pick, uproot, acquire or collect from a forest land or the area or transport, any specified plant for the purpose of—

  • education;
  • scientific research;
  • collection, preservation and display in a herbarium of any scientific institution; or
  • propagation by a person or an institution approved by the Central Government in this regard.

PLANTS TO BE GOVERNMENT PROPERTY

Every specified plant or part or derivative thereof, in respect of which any offence against this Act or any rule or order made thereunder has been committed, shall be the property of the State Government, and, where such plant or part or derivative thereof has been collected or acquired from a sanctuary or National Park declared by the Central Government, such plant or part or derivative thereof shall be the property of the Central Government

PROTECTED AREAS

There are two protected areas recognized under the act,

  1. Sanctuaries
  2. National Park

1.     SANCTUARIES

The state Government may declare any area other than an area comprised within any reserve forest or the territorial waters, as a sanctuary if it considers that such area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, natural or zoological significance, for the purpose of protecting, propagating, or developing wild life or its environment.

The state government may also declare an area as sanctuary, comprising any reserve forest or any part of the territorial waters, which considered by the State Government to be of adequate ecological faunal floral geomorphological, natural or zoological significance for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wild life or its environment.

Where any part of the territorial waters is to be so included, prior concurrence of the Central Government shall be obtained by the State Government.

The limits of the area of the territorial waters to be included in the sanctuary shall be determined in consultation with the Chief Naval Hydrographer of the Central Government and after taking adequate measures to protect the occupational interests of the local fishermen.

After declaring an area to be a sanctuary, state government shall make arrangement to dispose the claims of people who had any rights within that sanctuary.

Till such time as the rights of affected persons are finally settled, the State Government shall make alternative arrangements required for making available fuel, fodder and other forest produce to the persons affected, in terms of their rights as per the Government records.

PROCEDURE TO SETTEL THE DISPUTE

The state government shall appoint a Collector to inquire into and determine the existence, nature and extent of rights of any person in or over the land comprised within the limits of the sanctuary.

For the purpose of such inquiry, the Collector may exercise the following powers, namely: —

  • the power to enter in or upon any land and to survey, demarcate and make a map of the same or to authorise any other officer to do so;
    • the same powers as are vested in a civil court for the trial of suits.

Acquisition of rights. —In the case of a claim to a right in or over any land, the Collector shall pass an order admitting or rejecting the same in whole or in part.

If such claim is admitted in whole or in part, the Collector may either—

  • exclude such land from the limits of the proposed sanctuary, or
    • proceed to acquire such land or rights, except where by an agreement between the owner of such land or holder of rights and the Government, the owner or holder of such rights has agreed to surrender his rights to the Government, in or over such land and on payment of such compensation, as is provided in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894;

The Collector, with the consent of the claimant, or the court, with the consent of both the parties, may award compensation in land or money or partly in land and partly in money.

  • allow, in consultation with the Chief Wild Life Warden, the continuation of any right of any person in or over any land within the limits of the sanctuary.

The collector shall, as far as, possible, complete the proceeding of acquisition within two years.

The acquisition under this Act of any land or interest therein shall be deemed to be acquisition for a public purpose.

PERMISSION TO ENTER IN SANCTUARY

Only following persons can enter in a sanctuary without permission-

  • a public servant on duty,
  • a person who has been permitted by the Chief Wild Life Warden or the authorised officer to reside within the limits of the sanctuary,
  • a person who has any right over immovable property within the limits of the sanctuary,
  • a person passing through the sanctuary along a public highway, and
  • the dependants of the person referred above;
  • a person passing through the sanctuary along a public highway.

The Chief Wild Life Warden may, on application, grant to any person a permit to enter or reside in a sanctuary for all or any of the following purposes, namely: —

  • investigation or study of wild life and purposes ancillary or incidental thereto;
    • photography;
    • scientific research;
    • tourism;
    • transaction of lawful business with any person residing in the sanctuary.

DUTIES OF PERSONS RESIDING IN SANCTUARY

Every person shall, so long, as he resides in the sanctuary, be bound—

  • to prevent the commission, in the sanctuary, of an offence against this Act;
  • where there is reason to believe that any such offence against this Act has been committed in such sanctuary, to help in discovering and arresting the offender;
  • to report the death of any wild animal and to safeguard its remains until the Chief Wild Life Warden or the authorised officer takes charge thereof;
  • to extinguish any fire in such sanctuary of which he has knowledge or information and to prevent from spreading, by any lawful means in his power, any fire within the vicinity of such sanctuary of which he has knowledge or information; and
  • to assist any forest officer, Chief Wild Life. Warden, Wild Life Warden or police officer demanding his aid for preventing the commission of any offence against this Act or in the investigation of any such offence.

RESTRICTIONS WIHTIN SANCTUARY

  • No person shall destroy, exploit or remove any wild life including forest produce from a sanctuary or destroy or damage or divert the habitat of any wild animal by any act whatsoever or divert, stop or enhance the flow of water into or outside the sanctuary, except under and in accordance with a permit granted by the Chief Wild Life Warden, and no such permit shall be granted unless the State Government being satisfied in consultation with the Board that such removal of wild life from the sanctuary or the change in the flow of water into or outside the sanctuary is necessary for the improvement and better management of wild life therein, authorises the issue of such permit.

Where the forest produce is removed from a sanctuary the same may be used for meeting the personal bona fide needs of the people living in and around the sanctuary and shall not be used for any commercial purpose.

  • No person shall set fire to a sanctuary, or kindle any fire, or leave any fire burning, in a sanctuary, in such manner as to endanger such sanctuary.
  • No person shall enter a sanctuary with any weapon except with the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wild Life Warden or the authorised officer.
  • No person shall use, in a sanctuary, chemicals, explosives or any other substances which may cause injury to, or endanger, any wild life in such sanctuary.
  • No person shall, with intent to cause damage to any boundary-mark of a sanctuary or to cause wrongful gain as defined in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860), alter, destroy, move or deface such boundary-mark.
  • No person shall tease or molest any wild animal or litter the grounds of sanctuary.

2.     NATIONAL PARKS

Whenever it appears to the State Government that an area, whether within a sanctuary or not, is, by reason of its ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological or zoological association or importance, needed to be constituted as a National Park for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wild life therein or its environment, it may, by notification, declare its intention to constitute such area as a National Park.

Provisions related to territorial waters, claim for rights, restrictions, apply in the case of national park same as it applies in relation to sanctuaries. (stated above)

CENTRAL ZOO AUTHORITY AND RECOGNITION OF ZOOS

CONSTITUTION OF CENTRAL ZOO AUTHORITY AND ITS DUTIES

The central Government shall constitute Central Zoo Authority. The Authority shall perform the following functions, namely: —

  • specify the minimum standards for housing, upkeep and veterinary care of the animals kept in a zoo;
  • evaluate and assess the functioning of zoos with respect to the standards or the norms as may be prescribed;
  • recognise or derecognise zoos;
  • identify endangered species of wild animals for purposes of captive breeding and assigning responsibility in this regard to a zoo;
  • co-ordinate the acquisition, exchange and loaning of animals for breeding purposes;
  • ensure maintenance of stud-books of endangered species of wild animals bred in captivity;
  • identify priorities and themes with regard to display of captive animals in a zoo;
  • co-ordinate training of zoo personnel in India and outside India;
  • co-ordinate research in captive breeding and educational programmes for the purposes of zoos;
  • provide technical and other assistance to zoos for their proper management and development on scientific lines;
  • perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act with regard to zoos.

RECOGNITION OF ZOO

The Central zoo authority shall have the power to recognize the zoo and no zoo shall be operated without getting recognized from Central Zoo authority.

The authority may suspend or cancel any recognition after giving opportunity of being heard. And such zoo may prefer an appeal within thirty days to the central government.

 

NATIONAL TIGER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY

The Central Government shall constitute National Tiger Conservation Authority. The Tiger Conservation Authority shall have the following powers and perform the following functions, namely: —

  • to approve the Tiger Conservation Plan
  • evaluate and assess various aspects of sustainable ecology and disallow any ecologically unsustainable land use such as, mining, industry and other projects within the tiger reserves;
  • lay down normative standards for tourism activities and guidelines for project tiger from time to time for tiger conservation in the buffer and core area of tiger reserves and ensure their due compliance;
  • provide for management focus and measures for addressing conflicts of men and wild animals and to emphasise on co-existence in forest areas outside the National Parks, sanctuaries or tiger reserve, in the working plan code;
  • provide information on protection measures including future conservation plan, estimation of population of tiger and its natural prey species, status of habitats, disease surveillance, mortality survey, patrolling, reports on untoward happenings and such other management aspects as it may deem fit including future plan conservation;
  • approve, co-ordinate research and monitoring on tiger, co-predators, prey, habitat, related ecological and socio-economic parameters and their evaluation;
  • ensure that the tiger reserves and areas linking one protected area or tiger reserve with another protected area or tiger reserve are not diverted for ecologically unsustainable uses, except in public interest and with the approval of the National Board for Wild Life and on the advice of the Tiger Conservation Authority;
  • facilitate and support the tiger reserve management in the State for biodiversity conservation initiatives through eco-development and people’s participation as per approved management plans and to support similar initiatives in adjoining areas consistent with the Central and State laws;
  • ensure critical support including scientific, information technology and legal support for better implementation of the tiger conservation plan;
  • facilitate ongoing capacity building programme for skill development of officers and staff of tiger reserves; and
  • perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act with regard to conservation of tigers and their habitat.

CONSTITUTION OF STEERING COMMITTEE

The State Government may constitute a Steering Committee for ensuring co-ordination, monitoring, protection and conservation of tiger, co-predators and prey animals within the tiger range States.

TIGER RESERVATION PLAN

The state government shall, on the recommendation of the Tiger Conservation Authority, notify an area as a tiger reserve.

The State Government shall, while preparing a Tiger Conservation Plan, ensure the agricultural, livelihood, developmental and other interests of the people living in tiger bearing forests or a tiger reserve.

Provisions related to Restriction within sanctuaries, duties of people living within sanctuaries, shall also apply to Tiger Reserve, as same it applies in relation to sanctuaries.

TIGER AND OTHER ENDANGERED SPECIES CRIME CONTROL BUREAU

The Central Government may constitute Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau, and it will be known as Wild Life Crime Control Bureau.

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau shall take measures with respect to—

  • collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action, so as to apprehend the criminals and to establish a centralised wildlife crime data bank;
  • co-ordination of actions by various officers, State Governments and other authorities in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of this Act, either directly or through regional and border units set up by the Bureau;
  • implementation of obligations under the various international Conventions and protocols that are in force at present or which may be ratified or acceded to by India in future;
  • assistance to concerned authorities in foreign countries and concerned international organisations to facilitate co-ordination and universal action for wildlife crime control;
  • develop infrastructure and capacity building for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes and assist State Governments to ensure success in prosecutions related to wildlife crimes;
  • advice the Government of India on issues relating to wildlife crimes having national and international ramifications, and suggest changes required in relevant policy and laws from time to time.

TRADE OR COMMERCE IN WILD ANIMALS, ANIMAL ARTICLES AND TROPHIES

Every

  • wild animal, other than vermin, which is hunted with the permission of Chief Wild Life Warden or which is hunted in the contravention of this act,
  • Animal article, trophy or uncured trophy or meat derived from any wild animal referred above
  • ivory imported into India and an animal article made from this ivory, in respect of which any offence against this Act has been committed;
  • vehicle, vessel, weapon, trap or tool that has been used for committing an offence and has been seized under the provisions of this Act.

shall be the property of the State Government, and, where such animal is hunted in a sanctuary or National Park declared by the Central Government, such animal or any animal article, trophy, uncured trophy or meat derived from such animal or any vehicle, vessel, weapon, trap or tool used in such hunting] shall be the property of the Central Government.

Any person who obtains, these things by any means, shall, within forty-eight hours, hand over those things to the officer-in-charge of nearest police station.

RESTRICTIONS TO THE POSSESSION OF TROPHIES AND ANIMAL ARTICLES

  • No person shall, acquire, receive, keep in his control, custody or possession, sell, offer for sale or otherwise transfer or transport any animal specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II or any uncured trophy or meat derived from such animal, or the salted or dried skins of such animal or the musk of a musk deer or the horn of a rhinoceros, except with the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wild Life Warden or the authorised officer.
  • No person other than a person having a certificate of ownership, shall, acquire, receive, keep in his control, custody or possession any captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II, except by way of inheritance. Every person inheriting any captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy shall, within ninety days of such inheritance make a declaration to the Chief Wild Life Warden or the authorised officer.
  • These provisions do not apply to the live elephant, recognised zoo or to a public museum.
  • If by any reason, as state above, any person acquires Trophies and animal articles and declare the possession of it, in such case, the chief wild life warden may issue certificate of ownership to that person to keep possession of that trophy or animal article.

While issuing the certificate, the chief wild life warden shall insure that person has adequate facilities for the maintenance, upkeep, and housing of that thing.

  • No person having in his possession captive animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy in respect of which he has a certificate of ownership shall transfer by way of sale or offer for sale or by any other mode of consideration of commercial nature, such animal or article or trophy or uncured trophy.

DEALINGS IN TROPHY AND ANIMAL ARTICLES WITHOUT LICENCE PROHIBITED

No person shall, except under and in accordance with, a licence granted-

  • commence or carry on the business as—
  • a manufacturer of or dealer in, any animal article; or
  • a taxidermist; or
  • a dealer in trophy or uncured trophy; or
  • a dealer in captive animals; or

a dealer in meat; or

  • cook or serve meat in any eating-house
  • derive, collect or prepare or deal in snake venom.

These provision does not apply to the dealers of tail feathers of peacock and articles made therefrom and the manufactures of such articles.

OFFENCES AND PENALTIES UNDER THE ACT

OFFENCES

The Director or any other officer authorised by him in this behalf 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, may, if he has reasonable grounds for believing that any person has committed an offence against this Act, —

  • require any such person to produce for inspection any captive animal, wild animal, animal article, meat, trophy or trophy, uncured trophy, specified plant or part or derivative thereof, in his control, custody or possession, or any licence, permit or other document granted to him or required to be kept by him under the provisions of this Act;
    • stop any vehicle or vessel in order to conduct search or inquiry or enter upon and search any premises, land, vehicle or vessel, in the occupation of such person, and open and search any baggage or other things in his possession;
    • seize any captive animal, wild animal, animal article, meat, trophy or uncured trophy, or any specified plant or part or derivative thereof, in respect of which an offence against this Act appears to have been committed, in the possession of any person together with any trap, tool, vehicle, vessel or weapon used for committing any such offence, arrest him without warrant, and detain him, unless he is satisfied that such person will appear and answer any charge which may be preferred against him.
    • where a fisherman, residing within ten kilometres of a sanctuary or National Park, inadvertently enters on a boat, not used for commercial fishing, in the territorial waters in that sanctuary or National Park, a fishing tackle or net on such boat shall not be seized.

PENALTIES

  • Any person who contravenes any provision of this Act or any rule or order made thereunder or who commits a breach of any of the conditions of any licence or permit granted under this Act, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act, and shall, on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees, or with both.

This provision does not apply in relation to the provisions of prohibition of trade or commerce in trophies, animal articles, etc., derived from certain animals and Prohibition of teasing, etc., in a zoo.

  • Where the offence committed is in relation to any animal specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II or meat of any such animal or animal article, trophy or uncured trophy derived from such animal or where the offence relates to hunting in a sanctuary or a National Park or altering the boundaries of a sanctuary or a National Park, such offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees.

And in the case of a second or subsequent offence of the nature mentioned in this sub-section, the term of the imprisonment shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than twenty-five thousand rupees.

  • Any person who contravenes any provisions in relation to prohibition of trade or commerce in trophies, animal articles, etc., shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees.
  • Any person who contravenes the provisions of in relation to Prohibition of teasing, etc., in a zoo, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both.
  • In the case of a second or subsequent offence the term of imprisonment may extend to one year or the fine may extend to five thousand rupees.

This article is written by Arshi hayat Gnagohi. She is a lawyer, blogger at ababeelfolks and writes on laws, culture, books, cinema, food and literature.