Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022 (Special)
Polity & Governance
16th Dec, 2022
The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022, which seeks to strengthen the protection of endangered species and enhance punishment for illegal wildlife trade, has been passed in Rajya Sabha by a voice vote.
Wildlife Protection Act 1972:
Schedules in WPA, 1972:
It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
- Schedule I and part II of Schedule II: Absolute protection – offenses under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
- Schedule III and Schedule IV: Species are protected, but the penalties are much lower.
- Schedule V: Animals (e.g. common crows, fruit bats, rats, and mice), are legally considered vermin and may be hunted freely.
- Schedule VI: Specified endemic plants are prohibited from cultivation and planting.
- The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, attempts to amend the Wildlife (Protection Act (WLPA), 1972.
- Wildlife Act 1972 preserves the country’s wild animals, birds, and plants in order to ensure ecological and environmental security.
- This act has laid down restrictions on hunting various kinds of animal species.
- It also includes provisions related to harvesting and various other ancillary matters connected thereto.
What is the need for Amendment?
- Threat of blacklisting: India has been blacklisted by CITES once before, and if a second blacklisting were to happen — then India will no longer be able to trade in important plant specimens. This would affect the livelihood of a large section of Indian society that relies heavily on this trade.
- Ambiguous listing: The rationalization needed to be done because there were many discrepancies in the schedules and they were also ambiguous.
- Non-uniform listing: Some species were listed under English names, others under scientific names, some under families, and others under orders.
- Issues in implementation: Such a categorization was very confusing for wildlife and forest officials on the ground to implement.
- Constant threats to wildlife
- Illegal Wildlife Trade
- Habitat Destruction
- Human-animal conflict
- Invasive Species
- Climate Change, Pollution
Key provisions of the new Bill:
There were 50 amendments to the Act proposed in the Bill.
- The words "protection of wild animals, birds, and plants", mentioned under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 have been substituted with the words "conservation, protection and management of wildlife”.
- Rationalising schedules:
- Currently, the Act has six schedules for specially protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one).
- Bill reduces it 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
- Inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES (scheduled specimens).
- Obligations under CITES: The Bill authorizes the central government to designate
- Management Authority: which grants export or import permits for the trade of specimens, and
- Scientific Authority: This gives advice on aspects related to the impact on the survival of the specimens being traded.
- It prohibits any person from modifying or removing the identification mark of the specimen.
- Every person possessing live specimens of scheduled animals must obtain a registration certificate from the Management Authority.
- Invasive alien species:
- It empowers the central government to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession, or proliferation of invasive alien species.
- Control of sanctuaries: The Present Act entrusts the Chief Wildlife Warden to control, manage and maintain all sanctuaries in a state.
- The Chief Wildlife Warden has been appointed by the state government.
- The Bill specifies that the actions of the Chief Warden must be in accordance with the management plans for the sanctuary.
- These plans will be prepared as per the guidelines of the central government, and as approved by the Chief Warden.
- 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 Wildlife Warden.
- No compensation will be paid to the person for surrendering such items. The surrendered items become the property of the state government.
- Penalties: Bill has increased the fines for violating the provisions of the Act.