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Wildlife Protection Amendment Bill 2021


The News

The News

The News

  • The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on December 17, 2021.
  • 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).


  • CITES is an international agreement between governments brought in 1975 to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
  • Under CITES, plant and animal specimens are classified into three categories (Appendices) based on the threat to their extinction.
  • The Convention requires countries to regulate the trade of all listed specimens through permits. It also seeks to regulate the possession of live animal specimens.

Key features of the Bill

  • The Bill seeks to implement these provisions of CITES.
    • Rationalising schedules: Currently, the Act has six schedules for specially protected plants (one), specially protected animals (four), and vermin species (one). Vermin refers to small animals that carry disease and destroy food. The Bill reduces the total number of schedules to four by: (i) reducing the number of schedules for specially protected animals to two (one for greater protection level), (ii) removes the schedule for vermin species, and (iii) inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES (scheduled specimens).
    • Obligations under CITES: The Bill provides for the central government to designate a: (i) Management Authority, which grants export or import permits for trade of specimens (ii) Scientific Authority, which gives advice on aspects related to impact on the survival of the specimens being traded.

Key features of the Bill

  • The Bill seeks to implement these provisions of CITES.
    • 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.
    • 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.

Key features of the Bill

  • Invasive alien species: The Bills empowers the central government to regulate or prohibit the import, trade, possession or proliferation of 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 central government may authorise an officer to seize and dispose the invasive species.

CBD definition of IAS

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity defines invasive alien species as species whose introduction and/or spread outside their natural past or present distribution threatens biological diversity.
  • Put simply, there are three characteristics of an invasive alien species:
    • it can belong to any group of species across plants, animals, fungi or microorganisms;
    • it must have been introduced to an environment outside of its natural habitat, and;
    • it outcompetes or threatens the native species that exist within the new ecological community.

IAS & India

  • The primary obligation of the government to manage invasive alien species can be traced to two sources:
    • (i) Article 48A of the Constitution which requires the state to endeavour to protect and improve the environment
    • (ii) the international Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the adjoining Aichi Targets. Target 9 of the Aichi Target specifically urges member states to control or eradicate invasive alien species by 2020.
    • Note: India has Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order 2003 which mandates that any import of plants or seeds into the country should be inspected for the potential risk of pests.
  • However, the current frame is inadequate. Add to it the amendment proposed in 2021 bill is narrow in comparison to CMD definition.

Narrow definition of IAS

  • Katsagon is native to Eastern India which has been introduced to other states under afforestation campaigns but it has become invasive.
  • National biodiversity authority itself has recognized that the introduction of several protected native species including Asian Elephant, Barking Deer and Spotted deer from mainland India to Andaman and Nicobar islands has posed a threat to the native flora and fauna and are considered invasive species in the island.

Another Criticism

  • Former principal chief conservator of forests Karnataka B K Singh has criticised the proposal of the changes to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, one of which is to allow the state boards for wildlife to constitute the standing committees.
  • Like the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) which is headed by the Prime Minister of the country, the state boards are headed by respective Chief Ministers. The standing committee of NBWL has been approving 100 per cent proposals of diversion by compromising the integrity of the Protected Areas. The standing committee is not concerned about conserving wildlife, it is concerned about development projects.
  • BK Singh argues that, if the standing committees of the State Boards of Wildlife (SBWL) are constituted and empowered, more and more projects will be referred there. SBWL will hardly meet and deliberate on issues. SBWL will meet and recommend the proposals leading to more destruction of habitats and consequent deforestation.


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