Court’s Bid To Spur Animal Protection
In a groundbreaking decision, a Sessions Court in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district mandated that the informer get half of the penalty amount levied against a defendant in a chinkara killing case as compensation for their assistance in identifying wildlife crimes. The court ruled that it would increase societal awareness of the need to safeguard wildlife.
Why was the killing of Chinkara considered a crime?
- The Indian gazelle, also known as the chinkara or Gazella bennettii, is a type of antelope that is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. One of the tiniest gazelle species, it inhabits a variety of environments, including grasslands, shrublands, and desert regions.
- Indian gazelles are medium-sized antelopes with long, lean legs and slim bodies. It has a coat that ranges in colour from light brown to sandy, which offers great camouflage in its natural environments. There is a noticeable white patch on the throat, and the underparts and insides of the legs are both white.
- Conservation Status: On the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Indian gazelle is classified as a species of Least Concern. However, habitat loss, poaching, and competition for resources with livestock may pose challenges to local populations. The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 protects this species.
- Cultural significance: The Indian gazelle has cultural significance in India, where it is frequently portrayed in literature and traditional art. Its grace, beauty, and agility are admired. It serves as Rajasthan’s state animal.
What is the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and how does it protect wildlife?
- Enactment and Amendments :
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act was passed in 1972, and the most recent revision was made in 2006.
- The Rajya Sabha received an amendment bill in 2013, but it was later withdrawn in 2015.
- Constitutional Provisions:
- Article 48A of the Indian Constitution, which was adopted by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, instructs the state to protect and enhance the environment while also preserving wildlife and forests.
- People are subject to fundamental obligations under Article 51A, one of which is to safeguard and develop the environment, especially wildlife.
- Historical Background:
- The Wild Birds Protection Act, of 1887, passed by the British Indian Government, was the country’s first legislation protecting wildlife.
- The Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act, another law, was adopted in 1912 and later revised in 1935.
- In 1960, the protection of wildlife became a hot topic, and the Wildlife (Protection) Act was passed in 1972.
- Need for the Wildlife Protection Act:
- India is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, but many of these species were seeing a sharp drop in population.
- Ecological imbalance brought on by a loss of flora and fauna can harm the ecosystem and the climate.
- The Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act (1935), the old British-era statute protecting wildlife, needed to be amended because the penalties for violators were insufficient.
- Salient features:
- The Wildlife Protection Act’s key provisions include the creation of biologically significant protected areas as well as the protection of listed species of animals, birds, and plants.
- It established the Central Zoo Authority, which is in charge of governing India’s zoos, as well as wildlife advisory boards, wildlife wardens, and zoos.
- The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Act made it easier for India to participate.
- It established schedules that provide various levels of protection for various species of flora and animals, with Schedule I and Schedule II (Part II) offences carrying the worst penalties.
- The Act restricted the sale, transfer, and ownership of specific animal species as well as the hunting of endangered species.
- Protected Areas:
- National parks, conservation reserves, community reserves, tiger reserves, and sanctuaries are the five categories of protected areas that are specified by the Act.
- Sanctuaries are locations, where abused, abandoned, and injured wildlife, can find refuge, with little to no human interference.
- To preserve the ecosystem and species, national parks have stronger rules.
- Community reserves can be either private or public lands that have been voluntarily conserved for wildlife. Conservation reserves are regions next to sanctuaries or parks.
- Tiger reserves have been set aside, particularly for the preservation and protection of tigers.
What are the schedules under this act?
- Schedule I encompasses the most critically endangered species, granting them the highest level of protection. Violations concerning Schedule I species result in severe penalties, such as imprisonment and substantial fines. Examples of species included in Schedule I are the Bengal Tiger, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Snow Leopard, and Indian Elephant.
- Schedule II includes species that may not be as endangered as those in Schedule I but still require significant protection. Offences related to Schedule II species carry penalties, albeit less severe. Examples of species listed under Schedule II are the Indian Wild Dog (Dhole), Sloth Bear, Indian Wolf, and Great Indian Bustard.
- Schedule III comprises species that receive protection, although not to the same extent as those in Schedules I and II. Penalties for offences involving Schedule III species are comparatively less severe. Examples of species listed under Schedule III include the Common Leopard, Sambar Deer, and Indian Hare.
- Schedule IV covers species that are relatively common and widespread but still necessitate a certain level of protection. Offences related to Schedule IV species typically incur minimal penalties. Examples of species listed under Schedule IV are the Indian Wild Boar, Indian Gazelle, and various species of monkeys and langurs.
- Schedule V encompasses species classified as vermin, which can be hunted under specific circumstances. Examples of species listed under Schedule V include the Common Crow, Fruit Bats, and mice.
- Schedule VI contains the plants on this list that are prohibited from cultivation. Examples include the pitcher plant, red, blue, and kuth vandas.