Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021. The bill seeks to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- The Bill amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 which regulated the protection of wild animals, birds and plants.
- The Bill seeks to increase the species protected under the law and implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
What is CITES?
- The CITES is part of a multilateral treaty that includes plant, animals and birds under varying categories of threat of extinction and which will be jointly protected by members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. India is a signatory to this.
- CITES was conceptualised in 1963 at a meeting of the (IUCN) International Union For Conservation Of Nature. It came into force in 1975 and consists of 183 member-countries till date that abide by CITES regulations by implementing legislation within their own borders to enforce those regulations.
- Located in Geneva, Switzerland, the CITES is administered by the United Nations under the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme).
- Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, it does not take the place of national laws. Rather, it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
Key features of the Bill include –
- Rationalising schedules —
- The Bill reduces the total number of schedules to four [from six earlier – specially protected plants (1), specially protected animals (4) and vermin species (1)] by —
- Reducing the number of schedules for specially protected animals to 2.
- Removes the schedule for vermin species.
- Inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES.
- To designate authorities under CITES obligations: The Bill provides for the central government to designate a —
- Management Authority, which grants export or import permits for trade of specimens.
- Scientific Authority, which gives advice on aspects related to impact on the survival of the specimens being traded.
- Invasive alien species —
- The Bill empowers the central government to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of invasive alien species.
- Alien species refers to plant or animal species not native to India and whose introduction may adversely impact wildlife or its habitat.
- Control of sanctuaries —
- The 1972 Act entrusts the Chief Wildlife Warden (appointed by the state government) to control, manage and maintain all sanctuaries in a state.
- The Bill specifies that actions of the Chief Warden must be in accordance with the management plans (to be prepared as per guidelines of the central government and as approved by the Chief Warden) for the sanctuary.
- For sanctuaries falling under special areas (Scheduled Area or areas where the Forest Rights Act, 2006 is applicable), the management plan must be prepared after due consultation with the concerned Gram Sabha.
- Conservation reserves —
- Under the 1972 Act, state governments may declare areas adjacent to national parks and sanctuaries as a conservation reserve, for protecting flora and fauna, and their habitat.
- The Bill also empowers the central government to notify a conservation reserve.
- Surrender of captive animals — The Bill provides for any person to voluntarily surrender any captive animals or animal products to the Chief Wildlife Warden.
- Penalties — The 1972 Act prescribes imprisonment terms and fines for violating the provisions of the Act. The Bill increases these fines.