The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
The Act provides for the protection of Wild animals, birds and plants and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. Given the imbalance occurring in the biological foodchain, it is essential that wildlife is protected to ensure that effects of climate change, and thereby, effect on humanity is minimal. This article provides an understanding of the act and its key elements.
The Act extends to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir "animal" includes amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles, and their young, and also includes, in the cases of birds and reptiles, their eggs,"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.
- capturing, killing, poisoning, snaring, and trapping or any wild animal and every attempt to do so,
- driving any wild animal for any of purposes specified in sub clause
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;
"taxidermy", with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions, means the curing, preparation or preservation of trophies;
'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 animals mounted in whole or in part through a process of taxidermy, and
- antler, horn, rhinoceros horn, feather, nail, tooth, musk, eggs, and nests;
"uncured trophy" means the whole or any part of any captive 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 ];
"vermin" means any wild animal specified in Sch.V
"wildlife" includes any animal, bees butterflies, crustacean, fish and moths; and aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat;
Hunting of Wild Animals
PROHIBITION OF HUNTING
No person shall hunt any wild animal specified in Schedule, I, II, III and IV except as provided below.
HUNTING OF WILD ANIMALS TO BE PERMITTED IN CERTAIN CASES
- The Chief Wildlife Warden may, if he is satisfied that any wild animal specified in Sch. 1 has become dangerous to human life or is so disabled or diseased as to be beyond recovery, permit any person to hunt such animal or cause animal to be hunted;
- The Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer may, if he is satisfied that any wild animal specified in Sch. II Sch, III or Sch. 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 permit any person to hunt such animal or cause such animal to be hunted.
- 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
- Any wild animal killed or wounded in defence of any person shall be Government property.
Grant of Permit For Special Purposes.
It shall be lawful for the Chief Wildlife Warden, to grant a permit, by an order in writing, to any person, on payment of such fee as may be prescribed, 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,-
- scientific research;
- scientific management; the expression, "scientific management" means-
- translocation of any wild animal 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 to the permission under section 38-1 or
for museums and similar institutions;
derivation, collection or preparation of snake-venom for the manufacture of life saving drugs.]
However no such permit shall be granted:
- in respect of any wild animal specified in Sch.L 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.
SUSPENSION OR CANCELLATION OF LICENCE
The Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer may, subject to any general or special order of this State Government, for good and sufficient reasons, suspend or cancel any licence granted.
However no such suspensions or cancellation shall be made except after giving the holder of the licence a reasonable opportunity of being heard
Protection of Specified Plants
PROHIBITION OF PICKING, UPROOTING, ETC., OF SPECIFIED PLANTS
No person shall-
- willfully pick, uproot, damage destroy, acquire or collect any specified plant from any forest land and area specified, by notification, by the Central Government,
possess, sell, other for sale, or transfer by way of gift or otherwise, or transport any specified plant, whether alive or dead, or part or derivative thereof:
However nothing shall prevent a member of a scheduled tribe, from picking, collecting or possessing in the district he resides any specified plant or part or derivative thereof for his bonafide personal use.
Grant of permit for special purpose
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 specified or transport, any specified plant for the purpose of
- scientific research.,
- collection, preservation and display in a herbarium of any scientific institutions; or
propagation by a person or an institution approved by the Central Government in this regard.
Cultivation of specified plants without licence prohibited
No person shall cultivate a specified plant except under, and in accordance with a licence granted by the Chief Wild Life Warden or any other officer authorised by the State Government in this behalf:
Every licence granted under this section shall specify the area in which and the conditions, if any, subject to which the licensee shall cultivate a specified plant.
Trade or Commerce in Wild Animals, Animal Articles and Trophies
Wild Animal, etc. to be Government property
- wild animal, other than vermin, which is hunted or kept or bred in captivity or hunted in contravention of any provisions of this Act, or found dead, or killed by mistake;
- animal article, trophy or uncured trophy or meat derived from any wild animal in respect of which any offence against this Act has been committed;
- ivory imported into India and an article made from such 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 provision 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 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 Central Government.
Possession of Government property to be reported
Any person who obtains, by any means, the possession of Government property, shall, within forty-eight hours of obtaining such possession, report it to the nearest police station or authorised officer and shall, if so required, hand over such property to the officer in charge of such police station or such authorised officer, as the case may be.
No person shall, without the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer.
- acquire or keep in his possession, custody, or control, or
- transfer to any person, whether by way of gift, sale or otherwise, or
destroy or damage such Government property.
Certificate of ownership
The Chief Wildlife Warden may, issue a certificate of ownership, to any person who, in his opinion, is in lawful possession of any wild animal or any animal article, trophy, or uncured trophy, and may, where possible, mark, in the prescribed manner, such animal article, trophy or uncured trophy for the purposes of Identification.
Regulation of transfer of animal etc.
A person (other than a dealer) who does not possess a certificate of ownership shall not
- sell or offer for sale or transfer whether by way of sale, gift or otherwise, any wild animal specified in Sch. I or Part II of Sch. 11 or any captive animal belonging to that category or any animal article, trophy, uncured trophy or meat derived therefrom;
- make animal articles containing part or whole of such animal;
put under a process of taxidermy an uncured trophy of such animal; except with the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer.
Where a person transfers or transports from the State in which he resides to another State or acquires by transfer from outside the State any such animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy as referred to in respect of which he has a certificate of ownership, he shall, within thirty days of the transfer or transport, report the transfer or transport to the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer within whose jurisdiction the transfer or transport is effected.
No person who does not possess a certificate of ownership shall transfer or transport from one State to another state or acquire by transfer from outside the State any such animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy as is referred to except with the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer within whose jurisdiction the transfer is to be effected.
Before granting any permission, the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer shall satisfy himself that the animal or article referred to therein has been lawfully acquired.
While permitting the transfer or transport or any animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy, as is referred to, the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer
- shall issue a certificate of ownership after such inquiry as he may deem fit;
- shall, where the certificate of ownership existed in the name of the previous owner, issue a fresh certificate of ownership in the name of the person to whom the transfer has been effected,.
may affix an identification mark on any such animal, animal article, trophy or uncured trophy.
Nothing in this section shall apply-
to tail feather of peacock and animal articles or trophies made therefrom,
to any transaction entered into by a recognised zoo subject to the provisions of Sec 381 or by a public museum with any other recognised zoo or public museum
The shahtoosh wool is derived from the soft undercoat of the Tibetan Antelope (also known as Chiru), which has to be killed before its fleece is removed. Three to four Chiru have to be killed to weave only one shawl. Each shawl can cost several thousand dollars in the international market.
In 1977, the Government of India declared the Chiru as protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972. Hunting and trading in products of all Schedule I species is illegal and is punished by heavy fines and imprisonment. Killing the Chiru is also in contravention to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which 151 countries are signatories, including India.
A PIL was filed in the J&K High Court seeing implementation of the provisions of their Wildlife (Protection) Act as well as CITES which prohibits the import of shahtoosh into India, on May 1, 2000 the High Court issued a judgement forcing the government to enact and enforce its wildlife law. Finally in 2002 the manufacture of shahtoosh shawls has finally been banned in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Promulgating an amendment to its laws, the J&K Assembly passed an act which places the Tibetan antelope or chiru (Panthelops hodgsonii) in Schedule I of the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, giving it the highest protection, thereby making any use of its derivatives punishable by law. The chiru was earlier in Schedule II of the Act, which made trade or use of its derivatives possible with license.
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
- dealer in trophy or uncured trophy; or
- a dealer in captive animal; or
a dealer an meat; or
cook or serve meat in any eating-house
derive, collect or prepare, or deal in, snake venom
However nothing in this sub-section shall apply to the dealers in tail feathers of peacock and articles made therefrom and the manufacturers of such article.
OBTAINING A LICENCE
- Every person referred to above who intends to obtain a licence shall make an application to the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer for the grant of a licence.
- No licence shall be granted unless the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer having regard to the antecedents and previous experience of the applicant, the implications which the grant of such licence would have on the status of wildlife.
- Every licence granted under this section shall specify the premises in which and the conditions, if any, subject to which the licensee shall carry on his business.
- Every licence granted under this section shall
- be valid for one year from the date of its grant;
- not be transferable; and
be renewable for a period not exceeding one year at a time.
No application for the renewal of a licence shall be rejected unless the holder of such licence has been given a reasonable opportunity of presenting his case and unless the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer is satisfied that.
- the application for such renewal has been made after the expiry of the period specified thereof, or
- any statement made by the applicant at the time of the grant or renewal of the licence was incorrect of false in material particulars, or
- the applicant has contravened any term of condition of the licence, or any provision of this Act, or any rule made thereunder, or
the applicant does not fulfill the prescribed conditions.
Suspension or Cancellation of Licence
Subject to any general or special order of the State Government the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer may, for reason to be recorded by him in writing, suspend or cancel any licence granted or renewed.
Provided that no such suspension or cancellation shall be made except after giving the holder of the licence a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
An appeal from an order refusing to grant or renew a licence under sec.44 of an order suspending or canceling a licence under sec. 45 shall lie
- if the order is made by the aurhorised officer, to the Chief Wildlife Warden, or
if the order is made by the Chief Wildlife Warden to the State Government.
In the case of an order passed in appeal by the Chief Wildlife Warden-under C1. (a) of sub-section (1), a second appeal shall lie to the State Government.
Subject as a aforesaid, every order passed in appeal under this section shall be final.
An appeal under this section shall be preferred within 30 days from the date of the communication, to be applicant, or the order appealed against.
Provided that the appellate authority may appeal preferred after the expiry of the period aforesaid if it is satisfied that the appellant had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal in time.
- Any person who contravenes any provisions of this Act or any rule or order made there under 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.
- Provided that where the offence committed is in relation to any animal specified in Scheduled I or Part 11 of Sch. 11, or meat of any such animal, animal article, trophy, or uncurled trophy derived from such animal or where offence relates to hunting in, ox, 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 [one year but may extend to six years and also with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees.
In the case of a second or subsequent offence of the nature mentioned in this sub-section, the term or imprisonment may extend to six years- and shall not be less than two years and the amount of fine shall not be less than ten thousand rupees.
- Any person who contravenes any provisions regarding prohibition of trade or commerce in trophies, animal articles,etc., shall be punishable with imprisonment for a7 term which shall not be less then one year but which may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees.
- Any person who is guilty of teasing 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. Provided that in case of second or subsequent offence the term of imprisonment may extend to one year or the fine may extend to five thousand rupees.
- When any person is convicted of an offence against this Act, the Court trying the offence may order that any captive animal, wild animal, animal article, trophy, uncured trophy, meat, ivory imported into India or an article made from such ivory, any specified plant or part or derivative thereof in respect of which the offence has been committed, any trap, tool, vehicle, vessel, or weapon used in the commission of the said offence be forfeited to the State Government and that any licence or permit, held by such person under the provisions of this Act, be cancelled. Such cancellation of licence or permit o r such forfeiture shall be in addition to any other punishment that may be awarded for such offence.
- Where any person is convicted of an offence against this Act, the court may direct that the licence, if any, granted to such person under the Arms Act, 1959 (54 of 1959) for possession of any arm with which an offence against this Act has been committed, shall be cancelled, and that such person shall not be eligible for a licence under the Arms Act, 1959, for a period of five years from the date of conviction.
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