Environment Minister has introduced in the Rajya Sabha a Bill to amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to strengthen protection for endangered species and enhance punishment for illegal trade in wildlife.

 

About the ‘Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2022’

  • The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in December, 2021.
    • The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in August, 2022.
  • The Bill amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
    • The Act regulates 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).

 

Key features of the bill include

  • CITES –
    • CITES is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
    • The Bill seeks to implement provisions of CITES.
  • Rationalising schedules –
    • Currently, the Act has six schedules for specially protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one).
    • The Bill reduces the total number of schedules to four by –
      • Reducing the number of schedules for specially protected animals to two (one for greater protection level),
      • Removes the schedule for vermin species, and
      • Inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES.
  • Obligations under CITES –
    • The Bill provides for the central government to designate Management Authority and Scientific Authority.
    • As per CITES, the Management Authority may use an identification mark for a specimen.
    • The Bill prohibits any person from modifying or removing the identification mark of the specimen.
    • Additionally, every person possessing live specimens of scheduled animals must obtain a registration certificate from the Management Authority.
  • Invasive alien species –
    • Invasive alien species refers to plant or animal species which are not native to India and whose introduction may adversely impact wild life or its habitat.
    • The Bill empowers the central government to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of invasive alien species.
  • Control of sanctuaries –
    • The Act entrusts the Chief Wild Life Warden to control, manage and maintain all sanctuaries in a state.
    • The Chief Wild Life Warden is appointed by the state government.
    • The Bill specifies that actions of the Chief Warden must be in accordance with the management plans for the sanctuary.
  • Conservation reserves –
    • Under the 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 empowers the central government to also 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 Wild Life Warden.
    • No compensation will be paid to the person for surrendering such items.
    • The surrendered items become property of the state government.