Wildlife Protection Act

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: A Brief Sketch

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Wildlife plays an important part in the ecosystem. The environmental balance can never be protected without wildlife. With the rapidly growing population, industrialization, urbanization in the world, the numbers of wildlife getting lost at an alarming rate. For deforestation, many trees and wild animals, birds lose their natural dwelling position. As per recent estimates, the world is losing 137 species of plants, animals and insects every day to deforestation. A horrifying 50,000 species become defunct each year.[1] In India to protect the wild animals, birds, insects and plant species to secure environmental and ecological security, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 come into force.


Wildlife indicates all the biotic aspects of the world containing all the species of plants, birds, animals and embryones of the earth. 

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: An act to empower for the protection of wild birds and animals matters related therewith or ancillary and arbitrary thereto.

Section 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 has a bunch of definitions of numerous terms. 

Section 2(1) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 defines Animal which contains mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, fish, other chordates, invertebrates and includes their young species and eggs. The young species and the eggs of the animals are treated equally as an animal in their rights. 

Section 2(5) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 defines Captive animal which implies any animal, specified in Schedule I, II, III, and IV caught or kept or grew in captivity. 

Section 2(15) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 defines Habitat which encompasses water, land or overture, the natural dwelling of any wild animal. 

Section 2(27) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 defines a Specified plant which means any plant defined in Schedule VI. 

Section 2(34) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 defines Vermin which means any wild animal defined in Schedule V. 

Section 2(36) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 defines Wild animal which means any animal defined in Schedule I, II, III or IV and found in wildlife nature. 

Section 2(37) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 defines Wildlife which encompasses antenatal aquatic or land verdure forms part of any environment. 

Salient Features of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:-

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 empowers for the safety of a species of animals, plants and birds. The silent features of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 are stated below –

  • This Act gives for the formation of wildlife advisory boards, wildlife wardens establish their powers and duties.
  • This Act helped India become a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • This Act forbade the hunting of endangered species of animals, birds, plants and insects.
  • This Act provides for permissions for the sale, transfer, and occupancy of some wildlife species.
  • This Act empowers the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, etc.
  • This Act paved the way for the formation of the Central Zoo Authority. This is the central body accountable for the surveillance of zoos in India. 
  • Tiger, Himalayan Brown Bear, Brow-Antlered Deer, Blackbuck, Blue whale, Common Dolphin, Cheetah, Clouded Leopard, hornbills, Indian Gazelle are prohibited from being traded.
  • This Act has six schedules that provided varying statuses of protection to classes of flora and fauna.
  • Schedule I and Schedule II of this Act deals with absolute protection, and offences under these schedules attract the maximum punishments.
  • The National Board for Wildlife was formed as a statutory organization under this Act. The chairman of the organization is the Prime Minister of India. It has 47 members encompassing the Prime Minister. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Other members encompass three Members of Parliament, five NGOs, and 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists, and environmentalists. This is an advisory board that instructs the central government on issues of wildlife conservation in India. Alternation of barriers in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done with the approval of the National Board for Wildlife. 
  • This Act gave the establishment of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. It is a statutory figure of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change with an all-around supervisory and coordination portion. It bestows statutory authority to Project Tiger, 1973 and has put the endangered tiger on a guaranteed way of revival by securing it from demise.[2]

Protected Areas under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:-

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 stated some protected areas. The protected areas are given below – 

1. National Parks: National Parks are those protected areas that are established by the government to protect the natural environment. Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Bandipur National Park in Karnataka; Hemis National Park in Jammu & Kashmir are well known national parks in India. 

National parks can be announced by the State government by Notification. The primary purpose of the national park is to conserve the natural environment of the area and biodiversity conservancy. Human activity is not allowed in national parks. Scraping of livestock and special tenurial rights are not authorized in national parks. No person is allowed to demolish, reduce, or abuse any wildlife from a National Park and destroy or harm the habitat of any wild animal or compel any wild animal of its habitat within a national park. 

2. Sanctuaries: Sanctuaries are those areas where wounded, abused and abandoned wildlife is entitled to live in consensus in their natural environment without any human intervention. Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary in Gujarat, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka are well-known sanctuaries in India.

All species are conserved from any kind of disturbance in the sanctuary. Animals are not entitled to be killed or captured inside the sanctuaries. A wildlife sanctuary is announced by the State government by an announcement. Forest harvesting, obtaining minor forest crops, and private ownership rights are authorized in the sanctuary as long as they do not deter the animal’s well-being. Biologists and researchers are allowed inside the sanctuary so they can research the area and its inhabitants. The Chief Wildlife Warden can permit permission to persons for entry or residence in the sanctuary for the study of wildlife, scientific research, photography, the agreement of any lawful business with someone residing inside the sanctuary and tourism.

3. Tiger Reserves: Tiger Reserves are those areas that are reserved for the safety and conservation of tigers in India. 

4. Conservation Reserves: The State government can announce an area as conservation reserves after discussing with local communities.

5. Community Reserves: The State government can announce any private or community land as a community reserve after discussing with the local community or a person who has registered to protect the wildlife.[3]

Landmark Cases on Wildlife:-

Since the formation of the Indian judiciary, the judiciary has been effective in ascertaining the importance of law respecting wildlife and its conservation. The cases are stated below –

In the case of Indian Handicrafts Emporium & Others V. Union of India & Others (AIR 2003 SC 3240), the Supreme Court of India identified that the elephants were being seriously abused for the extraction of ivory. The Court laid down that the embargo of ivory was necessary for the maintenance of public and social interest. It was adequate and important as elephants are a significant part of the ecosystem.[4]

In the case of Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar V. Union of India [1993 SCR (3) 21], the Supreme Court had authorized a committee to check the issue. The Court, therefore, revoked the license of the respondents as the mining activity in the tiger reserve was found to be unlawful. The apex [5]Court also revoked all the 215 mining licenses involved. 


The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 plays a major part to protect several species of plant, animal, insects and birds from illegal poaching, killing and trading. The animals, birds, plants and birds have their rights, their lives. This Act protects the wildlife from the inhumanity, greed of human. People should understand that it is our responsibility to protect wild animals from extinction because without them the ecosystem will not be able to function.

By Shreeparna Goswami

3rd year of Shyambazar Law College.                                                

[1] Deforestation: Clearing The Path For Wildlife Extinctions – Wild Earth News & Facts by World Animal Foundation, https://www.worldanimalfoundation.com/advocate/wild-earth/params/post/1278141/deforestation-clearing-the-path-for-wildlife-extinctions.

[2] The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 | International Journal of Advanced Legal Research,  https://www.ijalr.in/2020/09/the-wildlife-protection-act-1972.html?m=1.

[3] Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 – Salient Features, Provisions & Issues for UPSC Exam,  https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/wildlife-protection-act-1972/.

[4] Indian Handicrafts Emporium & Ors vs Union Of India & Ors on 27 August, 2003, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1231613/.

[5] Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 – Lexlife India, https://lexlife.in/2020/05/03/wildlife-protection-act-1972/.

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