From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CITES, WPA Act
Mains level : Read the attached story
The Rajya Sabha has passed the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022.
Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022
- The Bill amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 by increasing the species protected under the law.
- There are 50 amendments to the Act proposed in the Bill.
- Substituting the definition of ‘Tiger and other Endangered Species’ to ‘Wild Life’, this Bill includes flora, fauna and aqua under its protection.
- The Bill also regulates wild life trade as per the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
(1) Implementing CITES
- The Bill aims to implement CITES — which was signed in Washington D.C. on March 3, 1973, and later amended in 1979 — to trade plant and animal specimens with other governments.
- Regulating the possession of specimens, the Bill defines ‘specimen’ as any animal or plant (dead or alive).
- It also constitutes a Management authority which will issue permits for the trade of scheduled specimens in accordance with CITES.
- The Centre can designate a management authority to grant export or import permits for the trade of specimens and a scientific authority to give advice on the trade impact on the survival of the specimens, as per the Bill.
(2) Classification of specimens
- Classifying animals into two specially protected schedules, the Bill prohibits their trade by anyone, barring certain exceptions.
- The Bill removes the present schedule for vermin species and inserts a new schedule for specimens listed for extinction under CITES.
- The Bill also lists 131 mammals, 112 birds, 43 birds, 26 fishes, 63 insects, 388 corals under schedule I and 41 mammals, 864 birds, 12 reptiles, 58 insects, molluscs, and sponges under schedule II.
- A separate schedule for plants is also listed.
- The Bill seeks to empower the Centre to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of plant or animal species not native to India – invasive alien species.
- Apart from states, the Centre too can notify a conservation reserve — an area adjacent to national parks and sanctuaries.
- Any person can voluntarily surrender any captive animals or animal products to the Chief Wild Life Warden (an appointee of state governments).
- However, no compensation will be paid to the person for it and the surrendered items become the property of the state government.
- Under the Bill, the fine for General violation is up to Rs 1,00,000 and for specially protected animals is at least Rs 25,000.
(1) Elephants transportation
- The amendment has given huge discretion for the transportation of live elephants and expressed concern on protecting the animal.
- The elephant is a national heritage animal for India.
- The Standing Committee accepted the religious significance of the elephant, but the Minister has also included the words ‘any other purpose’
- The damage to the national economy due to crop depredation by wild animals has never been computed.
- Since 1972, the WLPA has identified a few species — fruit bats, common crows and rats — as vermin.
- Killing animals outside this list was allowed under two circumstances:
- Under Section 62 of WLPA, given sufficient reasons, any species other than those accorded the highest legal protection (such as tigers and elephants but not wild boars or nilgais) can be declared vermin at a certain place for a certain time.
- Under Section 11 of WLPA, the chief wildlife warden of a state can allow the killing of an animal, irrespective of its status in the Schedules, if it becomes “dangerous to human life”.
- The issue of the declaration of Vermins has since entered the realm of centre-state politics.
Back2Basics: 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 the protection of a listed species of animals, birds and plants, and also for the establishment of a network of ecologically-important protected areas in the country.
- It provides for various types of protected areas such as Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks etc.
There are six schedules provided in the WPA for the protection of wildlife species which can be concisely summarized as under:
|Schedule I:||These species need rigorous protection and therefore, the harshest penalties for violation of the law are for species under this Schedule.|
|Schedule II:||Animals under this list are accorded high protection. They cannot be hunted except under threat to human life.|
|Schedule III & IV:||This list is for species that are not endangered. This includes protected species but the penalty for any violation is less compared to the first two schedules.|
|Schedule V:||This schedule contains animals which can be hunted.|
|Schedule VI:||This list contains plants that are forbidden from cultivation.|
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