Center for amending the Wildlife Protection Act
The Center has begun a review of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), enacted in 1972 and last amended in 2006 as part of the United Progressive Alliance I, led by Congress.
The union’s Environment Ministry has formed a six-member drafting committee for this purpose, which has met twice so far, a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The committee’s mandate is to adapt the law to current challenges such as human-wildlife conflicts, the illegal trade in wildlife and forest products, the management of wildlife outside protected areas and the control of populations of certain species. The ministry may also consider revising the sanctions and penalties provisions for wildlife-related offenses in the revised law.
The committee includes Rajesh Gopal, former director of Project Tiger, BS Bonal, former member secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority; Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO of World Wildlife India and senior ministry officials. Ministry officials said they would take the earlier draft into account as well, as the WPA was also under review in 2016. It was later put on hold.
“The government introduced the National Wildlife Action Plan (PNAF) 2017-31 last year, which has already discussed current challenges. But there are some matters that are outside the purview of the WPA. The scope of this review is to update it with today’s challenges, ”said a senior ministry official who declined to be appointed. Rather, the identification and securing of wildlife corridors and landscape-based wildlife management were among the priorities of the NWAP. Although it has identified corridors of tigers and elephants, the Center has yet to make them sacred under the WPA.
One area the department should focus on is CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). CITES is an international agreement between governments to prevent unsustainable and illegal trade in wild animals and plants. The country is required to take the necessary measures to prevent the illegal trade or transfer of wildlife and wildlife items that are prohibited or regulated under the provisions of CITES.
“Our wildlife law does not cover CITES and many species. By exploiting the loopholes, they are traded illegally through various media, including digital platforms, ”the source added.
The Wildlife Protection Act is the key central legislation that ensures the protection of wild animals and plants and criminalizes the hunting of protected species. The law also grants different levels of protection to wild animals depending on their state of conservation or their abundance. Protected areas such as national parks and sanctuaries are recognized under this law. Currently, 4.89% of the country’s geographic area is covered by protected areas and they are covered by the WPA.