Needed: A Strict Implementation Of Laws To Protect Wildlife
wildlife refers to plants and animal species that survive on their own. there is no intervention of human beings. Earlier, it included animals. Now, it includes every living organism such as birds, animals, and plants. wildlife has its own important role in the environment. It can be a major source of revenue as wildlife attracts tourism. The Protection of wildlife is a major concern for India. The key to protect wildlife is the strict implementation of wildlife laws.
Laws Passed For The Protection Of Wildlife
Several laws were passed for the protection of wildlife. Our constitution mentions in article 51A(Fundamental duties) that we should protect the natural environment along with wildlife. Article 48A directs the state to take care of the environment and safeguard wildlife. Wild Birds Protection Act, 1887 was the first law which was passed to protect birds by British Govt. in India. They further introduced the Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act, 1912. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 was passed by the parliament of India. It is an important law for this purpose. several state governments have also passed laws to protect wildlife. High courts of several states have bestowed human rights on animals as well.
Current Scenario of Wildlife
current scenario of wildlife in India are:-
1. The total percentage of forests in India has risen to 24.56%. It has increased over 13 lakh hectares in 2015-2019. Now, the total area under forest is 80.73 million hectares. This was reported in the 16th edition of the Indian State Of Forest Report. It is an important part of the natural habitat on which wildlife thrives.
2. After almost every meeting held for the conservation of wildlife new species of plants and animals are added to the protection list. many species are becoming vulnerable and endangered. many of the species have gone extinct now.
3. A report released in 2018 stated that pangolins were becoming prey to illegal traders and were being captured in large numbers. The report also stated that most trafficked species are pangolins, seahorses, and tortoises.
4. In 2018, 388 cases related to wildlife were filed under the wildlife protection act,1972. Leopards and scheduled birds were the prime victims of these cases.
Provision For Punishments In Wildlife Protection Act
This law prohibits hunting and capturing of animal species once included on any of the schedules of this law. It has 4 schedules(I to IV). The hunting, possession, and trade of such species are regulated strictly. Section 51 of this act defines punishments for violation of the act. The gravity of punishments depends on the schedule of animals on which offense committed, the area to which offense committed, the nature of the offense, and if the accused is a repeat offender. Offenses committed to animals of schedule I and part II of Schedule II are punishable with 3 to 7 years of imprisonment and a fine not less than 10000 for the first time, and if the offense is committed for the 2nd time the fine is not less than 25000. Offenses committed to animals of schedule III and IV is punishable with 3 years of imprisonment or a fine up to 25000 or both.
Need for Strict Implementation of Wildlife Laws
The various arguments which support the need for strict implementation of wildlife laws in India:-
1.The rate of conviction in offenses related to wildlife is very low. It lies between 2% to 3%.
2.Various species are captured for illicit trade leading to the addition of various new species to the vulnerable or endangered list. Many of the species are extinct now. The extinction of a species leads to devastating effects on other species as well.
3.The other issue is that courts award punishments that are even less than the minimum punishment prescribed by the wildlife protection act. In a case, the Uttarakhand high court awarded a man found with 5 leopard skins the punishment of 15 months. The minimum punishment should have been 3 years.
4.The Karnataka high court dismissed proceedings in a case that was not filed by the police, but not by an officer appointed by the state government.
5.Tourists from all over the world visit India for its rich wildlife to experience nature. wildlife tourism is growing day by day.
6.Our judicial system takes keeps delaying these cases to an extent that the issues are forgotten. These cases take a lot of time to be adjudged.
Wildlife is something that requires special protection to flourish. Human factors such as hunting and trading have thrown them into a fix. The state should protect the interest of wildlife. Animals can’t stand for their own right and hence, it should be the duty of the state to do so. Humans have to understand that wildlife is equally essential as they are for this environment. Despite passing stringent laws and defining harsh punishments, our state machinery is somewhat a failure. State machinery as well as judicial systems should act more sincerely in this regard. Strict implementations of these laws are necessary to get an upper hand on the protection issue.