Wildlife is a very broad term that generally means different species of plants and animals which live in a natural habitat. Generally, the wildlife animals live in forests and are not domesticated. India has very rich wildlife.
Conservation of wildlife is fundamental to ecologically sustainable development. There are various threats to the wildlife in India:
1. Natural Causes:
- Rivalry among species
- Lack of pollination and diseases
2. Man-made causes:
- Habitat destruction.
- Uncontrolled commercial exploitation.
- Conversion of rich Bio-diversity sites for human settlement and industrial development.
- Extension of Agriculture.
- Filling up of wetlands.
- Destruction of Coastal areas.
To address these challenges, the government has taken many steps for the conservation of wildlife. Some of them are:
1. Article 48-A of the constitution provides that the State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wildlife of the country.
2. Article 51-A provides that It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forest, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.
Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972:
The passing of WPA, 1972 makes an important landmark in the history of wildlife legislation in India. The wildlife protection act of 1972 provides the basic framework to ensure the protection and management of wildlife. The act was amended subsequently in 1982, 1986, 1991, and 1993 to accommodate provision for its effective implementation. Some salient features of the act are:
- It covered almost all the wildlife resources which need protection and management.
- Wildlife’s are rated from schedule I to V is in accordance with the risk of survival of wildlife. The animal which lies in any of the schedules is strictly regulated. Schedule VI has been added to include specified species to protect by the 1991 amendment.
- Under the 1991 amendment power to declare any animal vermin taken out from the state and compulsory immunization of all animals in a 5 km boundary of the national park.
To protect wildlife’s various measures taken so far:
1. Project Tiger:
Project tiger is a centrally sponsored scheme and was launched in 1973 with the following objective:
- To ensure maintenance of the available population of tigers in the country.
- Preservation of areas of such biological importance as a national heritage for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of the people.
Under this act, Tiger Reserves are notified for the protection of Tiger and their Prey. The State government shall on the recommendation of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, notify an area as a Tiger Reserve.
Tiger Reserves are divided into two areas:
- Core Zone
- Buffer Zone
2. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):
The amendment act of 2006 provides for a statutory authority known as the National Tiger Conservation Authority to aid in the implementation of measures for the conservation of Tiger.
Powers of NTCA:
- To approve the Tiger conservation plan prepared by the state government.
- Assess ecological threats and curb them.
- To lay down a normative standard for tourism activities.
- To Facilitate an ongoing capacity-building program for skill development of officers and staff of tiger reserves.
3. Project Elephant:
Project elephant was launched in 1992 as a centrally sponsored scheme to ensure the long-term survival of the identified viable population of elephants in their natural habitats.
Objectives of Project elephant;
- To protect elephants, their habitat & Corridors.
- To address issues of man-animal conflict.
- The welfare of domesticated elephants.
Under project elephant, Elephant Corridor is made up, which aims to provide an ecological way through which elephants can move. There are 88 identified elephant corridors in India. Nationally, only 24 % of corridors are under complete forest cover.
4. Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE):
This program started in South Asia in the year 2003 with the purpose to provide the information needed for elephant range states to make appropriate management and enforcement decisions, and to build institutional capacity within the range states for the long-term management of their elephant populations.
Other programs for Elephant conservation:
- Haathi Mere Saathi
- Elephant-8 Ministerial meeting
- ME- 50:50 forum
5. Indian Rhino Vision 2020:
This program was implemented by the Department of Forest of Assam, The Bodo Autonomous Council. The program was also supported by Worldwide Fund. The Vision of this program is to increase the total rhino foundation in Assam and to ensure Rhinos are distributed over at least 7 protected areas to provide long-term viability of the one-horned rhino population.
The aim of Indian rhino vision 2020 is to protect the rhinos from Anti-poaching, monitoring, translocation, community conservation.
6. Sea Turtle Project:
With the objective of conservation of turtle and other marine turtles, the ministry of Environment and forest initiated the Sea Turtle Conservation Project in collaboration with UNDP in November 1999 with the wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun as the implementing Agency. The project was implemented in 10 coastal states of the country with special emphasis on the state of Orissa.
7. Indian Crocodile Conservation Project:
This project pulled back the once threatened crocodilians from the brink of extinction and placed them on a good path of recovery. This project has not just produced a large number of crocodiles but has contributed towards conservation in a number of the related fields as well.
The main aim of the Crocodile conservation project is to promote captive Breeding, take up research to improve management, and to involve locals in crocodile conservation.
Along with various conservation projects, various government institutions are also working towards the conservation of wildlife. These are:
Animal welfare Board of India:
It is a statutory advisory body on Animal welfare Laws and promotes animal welfare in the country. It was established in 1962 under section 4 of the Prevention of cruelty to animal acts 1960.
Functions of the Animal welfare board:
- To implement laws related to the prevention of animal cruelty.
- Advise government over the design of slaughter house.
- To all such steps what board thinks necessary for the welfare of animals.
- Advise the government on any matter related to animal welfare and the prevention of animal cruelty.
Central Zoo Authority:
It was made under the wildlife protection act 1972, through the 1991 amendment. The function of this authority is to oversee the functioning and development of zoos in the country. Only those zoo which was operated in accordance with the norms and standards prescribes by central zoo authority would be granted ‘recognition’ to operate by authority.
- To specify the minimum standards for housing and veterinary care of animals.
- To recognize and derecognize zoos.
- To coordinate the acquisition, exchange, and loaning of animals for breeding purposes.
- To coordinate training of zoo personnel in India and abroad.
National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) of India:
National Biodiversity Authority was established in 2003 to implement India’s Biological Diversity act (2002). It is an autonomous, statutory body and it performs the facilitative, regulatory, and advisory function for the government on the issue of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of Biological resources.
The objective of NBA:
- Anybody seek IPR rights over biological resource in India need NBA permission.
- NBA imposes a benefit-sharing mechanism.
- It ensures that benefit arises from biological resources should be shared with all.
- Ensure protection of knowledge of local people related to biodiversity by registering them.
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB):
It is a statutory body established in 2007 by amending the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. This helps the state government to ensure the implementation of the wildlife protection act 1972.
- Collection and collation of intelligence and establishment of centralized wildlife crime data bank.
- Implementation of the various obligations under international convention.
- Development of Infrastructure and capacity building for a scientific and professional investigation.
- Coordination among various enforcement agencies related to wild crime.
National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA):
It was established in 2009 under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Its main role is to planning, financing, monitoring and coordinating the body of the centre and the states. The objective of NGRBA is to ensure to curb pollution and conservation of river Ganga by adopting the river Basin approach.
We can conclude that the government has taken many initiatives to conserve the wildlife in India but more has to be worked on infrastructure building, capacity building, strict implementation of regulating act along with the cooperation of local people.
This article is written by;
Selected as Assistant Commandant (UPSC CAPF 2019)
Also appeared for Civil Services Interview
Email: [email protected]