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The Wildlife Protection (Amendment) bill 2022, Explained!

An amendment bill to the 40-year-old Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 was finally passed by the second house, the Rajya Sabha

By Dewanshi Tiwari
New Update
wildlife protection bill rajyasabha

An amendment bill to the 40-year-old Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 was put forth in the Lok Sabha on 17th December 2021. The said bill after being reviewed by a Standing Committee was finally passed by the second house, the Rajya Sabha on 8th December 2022.

The Bill

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The bill aims at increasing the number of species protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

In addition, it'll help in successively implementing the provisions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES is a multilateral treaty among nations to protect endangered plants and animals against the threats posed by international trade.

It lists plant/animal specimens into three categories depending on their threat to extinction.

The countries must ensure a regulated trade of all these specimens through permits as mentioned by the convention.

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Axis deer (Axis axis) in Gir Forest National Park, India | Courtesy: Bernard Gagnon, via Wikimedia Commons

Amendments

  • The new bill seeks to implement these provisions among other things. The bill inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES and has removed the schedule for vermin species.
  • The bill also empowers the Central Government to regulate the import or trade and possession of invasive alien species of plants and animals that can cause harm to the native wildlife or habitat of India.
  • A new Section 49E provides for a Management Authority by the Central government. The bill also specifies that the management plans of any sanctuary must be executed in accordance with the structure provided by the central government under the supervision of the Chief Wildlife Warden.
  • Due consultation should be obtained from the respective Gram Sabha, if necessary, in case of special areas. These special areas include Scheduled Areas (Under the 5th Schedule) and areas under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.
  • The bill has significantly increased fines for General Violations from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Additionally, specially protected animals from Rs 10, 000 to Rs 25,000. The bill empowers the state as well as the central government to notify a Conservation Reserve, adjacent to national parks and sanctuaries.

Concerns

The bill has caught the eye of several stakeholders and wildlife activists as it seeks to amend Section 43, allowing elephants to be used for religious and “other purposes”.

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Temple elephant of Virupaksha Temple, Lakshmi. Hampi, India | Courtesy: © Vyacheslav Argenberg via Wikimedia Commons

The irony here is that elephants are Schedule I animals that have been put under the highest degree of protection. Despite heavy criticism from the members of parliament, the bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha. Which, has left elephants with the ambiguity of what “other purposes” could possibly mean. Hence, this could have a disastrous impact on their population in the wild giving rise to illegal trade.

Although, Union Minister for Environment, Mr. Bhupender Yadav argued that shall be regulated under the Customs Act 1962, Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, and the Exim Policy and Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

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