50 years of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 13/09/2022

Relevance: GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Key Phrases: Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, In-situ and ex-situ conservation, Integrating conservation and development, Current environmental issues.


  • The year 2022 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Therefore, it is time to discuss some of the environmental aspects that we as a nation are dealing with today.


  • The world is going through an unimaginable crisis and climate change is a major factor for this.
  • We do not remember today which flood or cyclone or hurricane struck four years ago because it has been overrun by the latest tragedies we face.


  • It is the protection, preservation, management, or restoration of wildlife and natural resources such as forests and water.
  • Through the conservation of biodiversity the survival of many species and habitats which are threatened due to human activities can be ensured.
  • Other reasons for conserving biodiversity include securing valuable Natural Resources for future generations and protecting the wellbeing of ecosystem functions.

In-situ and ex-situ conservation

  • In-situ: Conservation of habitats, species and ecosystems where they naturally occur. The natural processes and interactions are conserved as well as the elements of biodiversity.
  • Ex-situ: The conservation of elements of biodiversity out of the context of their natural habitats is referred to as ex-situ conservation.
  • Zoos, botanical gardens and seed banks are all examples of ex-situ conservation.
  • In-situ conservation is not always possible as habitats may have been degraded and there may be competition for land which means species need to be removed from the area to save them.

Integrating conservation and development

  • Conservation cannot be conducted in isolation from humans and for conservation to be successful and sustainable there needs to be local community involvement.
  • It is therefore necessary to integrate conservation into farming practices.
  • Livelihood and development priorities of local communities must be taken into account if the conservation measures are to be sustainable.
  • Community-Based Natural Resource Management is a process through which grassroots institutions are involved in the decision making and have rights to manage and control their environment.

Current environmental issues

  • Climate Change: This problem has surfaced in the last few decades. Greenhouse gases are the major cause of climate change. Environmental changes have several destructive impacts such as the melting of glaciers, change in seasons, epidemics, etc.
  • Global Warming: The burning of fossil fuels, emissions from automobiles and chlorofluorocarbons add to the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. This has led to an increase in the earth’s temperature causing environmental changes. This increase in temperature across the globe is known as global warming.
  • Ozone Layer Depletion: The ozone layer is a layer of concentrated ozone gas. It protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. This very important layer is being destroyed by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), which are used in industries and everyday life (e.g. aerosol cans).
  • Water Pollution: The introduction of harmful substances into rivers, oceans, lakes and ponds, which changes the physical, chemical or biological condition of the water is called water pollution. The polluted water lacks oxygen and therefore the organisms die.
  • Air Pollution: Air pollution is the result of emissions from industries, automobiles, and the increasing use of fossil fuels. The gaseous emissions have added to an increase in the temperature of the earth.
  • Solid Waste Management: The discipline associated with the generation, storage, collection, transfer and transport, processing, and disposal of solid waste in a manner that it does not have a harmful effect on the environment.
  • Deforestation: It is the depletion of trees and forests at an alarming rate. The trees provide us with oxygen, and several raw materials and also maintain the temperature of the earth. Due to the depletion of trees for commercial purposes, there has been a drastic change in the earth’s climate.
  • Overpopulation: The earth’s population is increasing drastically which has led to a shortage of resources. If this continues, it will be very difficult to sustain such a huge population.

The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972

  • It is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species. Before 1972, India had only five designated national parks.
  • The Act established scheduled protected plants and hunting certain animal species or harvesting these species was largely outlawed.
  • The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants; and for matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto.
  • It extends to the whole of India. It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
    • Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection - offenses under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
    • Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
    • Animals under Schedule V, e.g. common crows, fruit bats, rats and mice, are legally considered vermin and may be hunted freely.
    • The specified endemic plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting.
    • The Enforcement authorities have the power to compound offenses under this Schedule (i.e. they impose fines on the offenders).

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)

  • It was constituted in 2005 for strengthening tiger conservation following the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force.
  • The Union Environment Minister is the Chairperson of NTCA and the State Environment Minister is the Vice-Chairperson.
  • The Central Government on the recommendations of NTCA declares an area as a Tiger Reserve.
  • More than 50 wildlife sanctuaries in India have been designated as Tiger Reserves and are protected areas under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Central Zoo Authority

  • The act provides for the constitution of the Central Zoo Authority consisting of a total 10 members including the Chairperson and a Member-Secretary.
  • The Environment Minister is the chairperson.
  • The authority provides recognition to zoos and is also tasked with regulating the zoos across the country.
  • It lays down guidelines and prescribes rules under which animals may be transferred among zoos nationally and internationally.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature

  • It is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education.
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.
  • It uses a set of quantitative criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of species. These criteria are relevant to most species and all regions of the world.
  • The IUCN Red List Categories define the extinction risk of species assessed. Nine categories extend from NE (Not Evaluated) to EX (Extinct). Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU)species are considered to be threatened with extinction.
  • It is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity.

Solutions to Environmental Issues

  • Replace disposal items with reusable items.
  • The use of paper should be avoided.
  • Conserve water and electricity.
  • Support environmentally friendly practices.
  • Recycle waste to conserve natural resources.

Way Forward

  • The process of environmental clearances for industrial projects is flawed due to various reasons such as proposals were shoved in at the eleventh hour.
  • The accompanying information is incomplete or shoddy. Even the Environment Impact Assessment reports and maps are usually not provided.
  • The NBWL can be a force for good change, for instance it was able to stop some destructive projects, like the missile firing testing system in the Tillanchong Wildlife Sanctuary.

Source: Indian Express

Mains Question:

Q. How does wildlife vary in India? How is the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 helpful in conservation of flora and fauna? [250 Words].