Wild Life Protection Act, 1972

The Act is adopted by all states in India except J&K, which has its own Act.

The act is aimed to protect and preserve wild life. Wild life refers to all animals and plants that are not domesticated. India has rich wild life heritage; it has 350 species of mammals, 1200 species of birds and about 20,000 known species of insects. Some of them are listed as ‘endangered species’ in the Wild life (Protection) Act. The Act envisages national parks and wild life sanctuaries as protected areas to conserve wild life. Wild life populations are regularly monitored and management strategies formulated to protect them. 

Wild Life Protection Act, 1972
Wild Life Protection Act, 1972

The Act covers the rights and non-rights of forest dwellers too,- it provides restricted grazing in sanctuaries but prohibits in national parks. It also prohibits the collection of non-timber forest produce which might not harm the system. The rights of forest dwellers recognized by the Forest policy of 1988 are taken away by the Amended Wild life Act of 1991. 

The act, a landmark in the history of wildlife legislation in our country by which wildlife was transferred from State list to concurrent list in 1976, thus giving power to the Central Government to enact the legislation. In India, nearly 134 animal species have been regarded as threatened. A National Wildlife action plan has been prepared whose objective is to establish a network of scientifically managed areas such as national parks, sanctuaries and biosphere reserves, to cover representative and viable samples of all significant bio-geographic subdivisions within the country. 
The major activities and provisions in the act can be summed up as follows: 

1. It defines the wildlife related terminology. 

2. It provides for the appointment of wildlife advisory board, wildlife warden, their powers, duties etc.

3. Under the Act, comprehensive listing of endangered wildlife species was done for the first time and prohibition of hunting of the endangered species was mentioned.

4. Protection to some endangered plants like Beddome cycad, Blue Vanda, Ladies Sliper Orchid, Pitcher plant etc. is also provided under the Act. 

5. The act provides for setting up of National Parks, Wild life Sanctuaries etc. 

6. The Act provides for the constitution of Central Zoo Authority. 

7. There is provision for trade and commerce in some wildlife species with license for sale, possession, transfer etc. 

8. The Act imposes a ban on the trade or commerce in scheduled animals. 

9. It provides for legal powers to officers and punishment of offenders. 

10. It provides for captive breeding programme for endangered species. Several conservation projects for individual endangered species like lion (1972), tiger (1973), crocodile (1974), and brown antlered deer (1981) were started under this Act. 

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