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This article is written by J. Suparna Rao from Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies. This article discusses the concept of The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. 


India is a country which is very rich in flora and fauna. It is land consisting of 10% of the world’s species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, India constitutes 7-8% of all species, including plants and animals. The statistics is given below- 

  • There are approximately 45,000 plant species, which constitutes 7% of the world’s total. 
  • There are approximately 15,000 flowering plants, which constitutes 6% of the world’s total.  
  • There are approximately 91,000 animal species which include insects, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians and molluscs. 
  • There are approximately 449 species of livestock which include sheep, cattle and goats. 

With large buildings replacing the forests all around the world, the ecological balance is at great risk and hence it can cause various natural disasters. Once the areas which were filled with various species of wildlife have now become devoid of it. There is a rapid decline of wild animals in India. Many species of birds and animals are extinct in our country like the pink-headed duck, Indian aurochs, Asiatic cheetah, and some species are endangered like the Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, Indian rhinoceros etc. It was of major concern and which necessitates the need to bring in the legislation for the protection of wildlife.  

Wildlife can be defined as the various fauna and flora of a particular region collectively. In other words, non-domesticated animals, all plants and other organisms which are present in such wild areas are also called wildlife. 

The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 is an Act passed by the Parliament of India on August 21, 1972, and later implemented on 9 September 1972. This Act was enacted for the protection of plants, birds and animal species. The Wildlife Protection Act is an umbrella Act to protect wild animals and plants. Before this Act was enacted there were very few national parks. This Act includes provisions for protection of plants and animals, hunting, harvesting and various other ancillary matters connected thereto. It has six schedules which extend to all over India. Under this Act, various kinds of penalties are also laid down for the violation of the laws contained therein. This Act contains 66 sections and six schedules. 

Constitutional provisions

  1. Part 4 of the Indian Constitution contains the Directive Principles of State Policy. It contains Articles 36 to 51. These are described as the novel features of Indian Constitution. Article 48-A of the Indian Constitution states that the State shall try hard to achieve a clean environment, protect and improve the environment, and safeguard the wildlife and forest of the country. 
  2. Part 4-A of the constitution contains the Fundamental Duties. Fundamental duties are the moral obligation of all the citizens of the country. Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution states that it is the duty of every citizen to protect the natural resources like lakes, rivers and also the wildlife. It also says that every citizen should have compassion for living creatures. 

Some popular wildlife sanctuaries in India

  1. Corbett National park, Uttarakhand 
  2. Ranthambore National park, Rajasthan
  3. Bandipur National park, Karnataka 
  4. Keoladeo Ghana National park, Rajasthan 
  5. Nagarhole National park, Karnataka 
  6. Sariska National park, Rajasthan 
  7. Kaziranga National park, Assam 

Objectives of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1872

  1. One of the main objectives is to prohibit the hunting of wild animals, various species of birds etc. 
  2. It lays down various punishments for the violation of rules and regulations to have proper control over the activities of human beings and to serve the various purposes of this Act. 
  3. Various Schedules contained under this Act give absolute protection to some endangered species so that they can be protected. 
  4. To provide shelter and protect the animals which are not in danger but need protection and security. 
  5. To specially protected animals that can be hunted like ducks, deer etc. For hunting such animals, the hunter has to obtain a license from the District Officer. If the license is granted, he would be given a certain restricted area to shoot the animals and in a particular season. Any of the acts which result in infringement of such a license will be cancelled. 
  6. One of the important objectives is to give powers in the hand of officers to punish the one who is guilty under this Act.
  7. To help the state government and central government to declare any area as sanctuaries or national parks. 
  8. To plant trees and build protected animal parks so that such animals are protected in environment-friendly and natural areas. 
  9. To establish wildlife advisory boards, wildlife warden and to appoint the members with their duties and power. 
  10.  To support the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES, 1976).
  11.  To support the launching of the National component of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme, 1971. 
  12. To provide protection even for some endangered plants. 
  13. To impose a ban on trade and commerce of certain protected species. 
  14. To provide trade and commerce of some wild species by providing a license for possession, sale, and transfer.  
  15. To maintain the diversity of flora and fauna of the country and also to maintain a healthy ecological balance. 

Extent and Applicability of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 

This Act contains 66 Sections which are further divided into seven chapters and six schedules. Before this Act was passed it was in the state list and so the state passed a law for wildlife protection and conservation. The Parliament passed this Act using the provisions of Article 252 of the Indian Constitution. This Act is the first legislation which gives such a comprehensive list of endangered wildlife species and which prohibited hunting of wild animals for the protection of the wildlife. 

The provisions of this Act is applicable to various states and regions namely Andaman and Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Delhi, Gao Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mysore, Mizoram, Orissa, Nagaland, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Union Territory of Chandigarh, Tripura, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh.


Section 1

This Act is named ‘Wild Life Protection Act, 1972’. This Act has been accepted by all the states and it is applicable to the whole of India. 

Section 2

This section gives definition of the following words.- 

  1. ‘Animal’-  According to this section the word animal includes mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and their eggs.
  2. ‘Animal article’- Refers to any article or object made from a wild animal wherein the whole body or a particular part of them has been used. This does not include vermin(wild animals that are harmful to crops, game or farm animals or carry various infectious diseases).
  3. ‘Board’- The advisory board constituted for the wildlife protection and as mentioned in sub-section (1) of section (6)
  4. ‘Captive animal’- Any animal which is kept or bred in captivity, which is described in Schedule 1; Schedule 2; Schedule 3; and Schedule 4. It can also be described as animals which live under human care. 
  5. ‘Chief wildlife warden’- It is the statutory authority that heads the wildlife department of a state.
  6. ‘Circus’- It refers to the establishment where animals are made to perform and various tricks are performed on them. 
  7. ‘Closed area’- Area which is declared closed for hunting and where hunting is prohibited. It is described in sub-section (1)  of Section 37 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. 
  8. ‘Collector’- It is a person who is the chief officer in charge of the revenue administration of a district. 
  9. ‘Commencement of this Act’- The commencement of the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act in the state. 
  10. ‘Dealer’- Refers to any person who is engaged in the business of buying and selling animal articles, captive animal, trophy, uncurled trophy.
  11. ‘Director’- It refers to a person who has been appointed as the Director of Wildlife Preservation, described in sub-section (1) of Section 3
  12. ‘Forest Officer’- Refers to the forest officer appointed for the wildlife protection, as described under clause 2 of Section 2 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. 
  13. ‘Government Property’- It refers to any property belonging to the government or is in possession of the government, and as described in the provisions of Section 39 of the Wildlife Protection Act,1972. 
  14. ‘Habitat’- Any land, water, vegetation which is a natural home of the wild animals. 
  15. ‘Hunting’- It includes poisoning, killing, trapping any wild animal or making an attempt to do so. It also includes driving any animal for any particular purpose, injuring any wild animal or any of their body parts or killing the eggs of reptiles and birds, or disturbing the nest or eggs of the reptiles or birds.  
  16. ‘Land’- It refers to canals, creeks and other various water channels, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, either artificial or natural. 
  17. ‘License’- It refers to any license which has been granted under this Act. 
  18. ‘Livestock’- It includes cows, buffalos, donkeys, goats, camels, sheep, pigs, mules, yaks,  bulls, horses and also their young ones. 
  19. ‘Manufacturer’- Means anyone who makes or manufactures articles made of wild animals. 
  20. ‘Meat’- It includes blood, bones, flesh, fat, eggs, sinew, other than vermin, it can be either cooked or raw, of a wild animal. 
  21. ‘National park’- Means an area declared by the government as a national park for the protection of animals, as described under section 35 or section 38, or under sub-section (3) of section 66. 
  22. ‘Notification’- Notification given by the government for the establishment, maintenance of the wildlife sanctuaries, national parks or any notification published in the Official Gazette. 
  23. ‘Permit’- It refers to permission granted under this Act or any provisions or rules of this Act. 
  24. ‘Person’- It includes any person and also a firm. 
  25. ‘Prescribed’- It refers to anything prescribed by rules under this Act.
  26. ‘Recognised zoo’- It refers to the zoo prescribed under section 38. 
  27. ‘Reserve forest’- The area which is declared as reserved for forest by the State Government under this Act, as described under section 20 of  The Indian Forest Act, 1972. 
  28. ‘Sanctuary’- Means an area which has been declared as sanctuary and as described under section 26(A), or section 38 or sub-section (3) of the Wildlife Protection Act,1972.
  29. ‘Specified plant’- Refers to any plant which has been specified to be protected and as described under Schedule 4 of this Act. 
  30. ‘State Government’- Administrator of that union territory appointed by the President under Article 239 of Indian Constitution. 
  31. ‘Taxidermy’ – It refers to preserving the dead animals, or any body part partly or wholly in the form of trophies, or skins, rugs, specimens in mounted form by the process of taxidermy or antlers, feathers, teeth, masks, eggs, nests, rhinoceros horns in the form of trophies. 
  32. ‘Uncured trophy’- Refers to trophies which have the mounted body part of the wild animal or wild animal wholly, which includes freshly killed animal, mask or other animal product which has not undergone the taxidermy process.
  33. ‘Vehicle’- Means anything which is used as conveyance in the land, water or air and which includes buffalo, camel, donkey, bullock, horse, mule and elephant. 
  34. ‘Vermin’- Refers to animals which are dangerous to the crops, farm animals or animals which carry various kinds of diseases, as described in Schedule 5 of this Act.
  35. ‘Weapon’- It refers to any instrument which is capable of killing or proves to be dangerous for the life of wild animals such as bows, arrows, ammunition, firearms, explosives, hooks, nets, traps, knives, snares. 
  36. ‘Wild Animals’- This refers to any animal which is of wild nature as compared to other species of animals and includes any animal which is specified in Schedule 1, Schedule 2, Schedule 4 or Schedule 5 wherever it is found. 
  37. ‘Wildlife Warden’- It means any person appointed by the advisory board members and as specified in Section 4 of this Act.
  38. ‘Zoo’- A licensed dealer who kept captive animals for the public exhibition but not for circus or any other purpose, it can be either stationary or mobile. 

Authorities to be appointed under this Act

Section 3

This section deals with the appointment of various officers such as a director of wildlife preservation; assistant directors of wildlife preservation; and any officers which may be deemed necessary to be appointed. The directors so appointed shall exercise their rights and powers in accordance with the rules or special directions of the Central Government. The assistant director appointed herein will act as subordinate to the director. 

Section 4 

The Government under this section can appoint a chief wildlife warden, wildlife wardens, one honorary wildlife ward can be established in each district, and any officials that may be necessary. All such officers as appointed by the government shall exercise their rights and powers in accordance with the rules or special directions of the State Government or rules given by notification in form of Official Gazette. The wildlife warden and one honorary warden and all other employees will act subordinate to the chief wildlife warden. 

Section 5

This section talks about the power of authorities to delegate. The director, the chief wildlife warden can delegate all of his powers or any of his powers and duties with the prior approval of the State Government to any officer who is subordinate to him. The person to whom the power and duties are delegated by the director or by the chief wildlife warden shall act according to the direction given by his superior and all of his acts shall take effect from within the provisions of this Act and not by way of delegation which is moving outside the purview of this Act. 

Section 6

  1. This section deals with the constitution of the wildlife advisory board. This section states that it is the duty of the administrator that once this Act has been commenced, he/she should constitute a wildlife advisory board including the following members. 
  • The Minister Incharge of the Forest, or if there is no such minister then Chief Secretary to the government will be the chairman of the concerned board. 
  • It should consist of two members of the State Legislature, or two members of the Legislature of the Union Territory, as the case maybe.
  • Secretary of the state government or incharge of forest of the government of Union territory.
  • The Forest Officer of  the State Forest Department
  • An officer which has been nominated by the Director 
  • Chief Wildlife Warden 
  • This board shall also include Officers not exceeding the number five, from the State Forest Department 
  • It should also include in the board the representative of the tribals not exceeding three and also the person who are in the opinion of the State, interested in protection of wildlife, not exceeding the number ten.         
  1. The State Government shall appoint the Vice-chairman of the Board. 
  2. The State Government shall appoint the forest incharge of the forest department or the chief warden as the secretary of the Board. 
  3. The members of the board will receive the allowance for the performance and exercising of their duties and responsibilities. 

Section 7 

This section prescribes the procedure to be followed by the board. It states that the board shall meet twice a year at a place which the State Government may order. The acts or proceedings of the court cannot be declared invalid merely due to irregularity in the procedure of the board or due to the vacancy therein or in case of defects in the constitution of the board. The board is bound to regulate its own issues and its own procedure.

Section 8

This section describes the duties of the Wildlife Advisory Board. It states that it is the duty of the State Advisory Board to advise the State Government on the issues relating to the selection of areas for declaring the same as Sanctuaries, National park, and Closed areas and also it has to guide the Government in formulation of the policy for protection and conservation of wildlife and some specified plants. 

Hunting of wild animals 

‘Hunting’ as described under the Wild life (Protection) Act, 1972, includes poisoning, killing, trapping any wild animal or making an attempt to do so. It also includes driving or using any animal for transport purposes, injuring any wild animal or any of their body parts or killing the eggs of reptiles and birds, or disturbing the nest or eggs of the reptiles or birds. No person is allowed to hunt any animal who is specified in Schedule 1, Schedule 2, Schedule 3 and Schedule 4.

Cases where hunting of Wild Animals is permitted 

Section 11 

Section 11 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972  states that in certain circumstances hunting of wild animals is permitted and are stated below- 

  1. If the Chief Wildlife Warden is satisfied that the animals listed in Schedule 1 are becoming a threat to human life or any property or such animal has been affected by the incurable disease from which it cannot be recovered, in such a situation the chief warden may give in writing the permit and also stating the reasons for granting the permission to a person to hunt such animal. 
  2. If the Chief Wildlife Warden is satisfied that the animals listed in Schedule 2, Schedule 3, or Schedule 4 are becoming a threat to human life or any property or such animal has been affected by the incurable disease from which it cannot be recovered, in such a situation the chief warden may give in writing the permit and also stating the reasons for granting such permission to a person to hunt such a animal. 
  3. Hunting is permitted and is not an offence if the animal has been killed or wounded to save the life of one own self or to save the life of others. Any injury done to an animal due to self-defence is not an offence. Provided that such a person has not violated any rules under this act and such killing of an animal was necessary, it could not be avoided. 
  4. Any animal killed in such a defence will be government property.
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Grant of permit for special purposes

Section 12 

This section states that permission for hunting can be granted for special purposes. Under this section, it will be lawful for the Chief Wildlife Warden to grant permission for hunting by giving an order in writing and collecting the prescribed fee from that person so that he may be entitled for hunting for special purposes. Provided that such a permit should be granted with previous permission of the Central Government or State Government. Such special purposes are given below- 

  1. For the purpose of education.
  2. For scientific research such as shifting of a wild animal to different habitats to observe the scientific changes in them.
  3. For scientific management such as to maintain the healthy population of any kind of particular species.
  4. For collecting the specimens of various kinds from the animal body so as to display it in a museum or any such similar institutions. 
  5. For collecting the snake venom for manufacturing various kinds of medicinal drugs. 

Cancellation or suspension of license 

Section 13

This section states that the Chief Wildlife Warden or any such authorised officer can cancel or suspend the license of a person, by general or special order of the State Government in writing and also provide such valid reasons for the suspension or cancellation of the license. 

Scheduled species 

The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 has been divided into six schedules. Each schedule gives a varied form of protection. Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 provide absolute protection to the wild animals and for the violation of such provisions the penalty charged is very high. While in Schedule 3 and Schedule 4 animals are protected here but the penalty charged is low. Schedule 5 states the list of animals which can be hunted and Schedule 6 states the list of specified endemic plants which are prohibited for cultivation and planting. 

Schedule 1 

Part 1

It contains the following animals namely Andaman wild pig, cheetah, black buck, Indian gazelle, Indian Bison or Gaur, golden cat, hoolock, gangetic dolphin, fishing cat, clouded leopard, chinese pangolin, dugong, Indian elephant, hispid hare, golden cat, desert fox, caracal, desert fox, panther, musk deer, pallas’s cat, pygmy hog, Indian wild ass, marbled cat, slow loris, rhinoceros, snubfin dolphin, tibetan wild ass, tibetan wolf, nilgiri tahr, red panda, leopard cat, wild buffalo, shapu, rusty-spotted cat. 

Part 2

It contains the following amphibians and reptiles namely Peacock marked soft-shelled turtle, crocodiles, Indian egg-eating snakes, logger head turtle, golden gecko, terrapin turtle, yellow monitor lizard, green sea turtle, leathery turtle, hawksbill turtle, ganges soft-shelled turtles, audithia turtle, gharial, large bengal monitor lizard, water lizard, pythons. 

Part 2 (A)

It contains the following fishes namely Whale shark, himantura fluviatilis, urogymnus asperrimus, rhynchobatus djiddensis, anoxypristis cuspidata, glyphis gangeticus, pristis microdon, glyphis glyphis, carcharhinus hemiodon. 

Part 3

It contains birds namely Bengal florican, large falcons, Andaman teal, black-necked crane, swiftlets, monal pheasants, white winged wood duck, large falcons, Great Indian bustard, mountain quail, peafowl, tibetan snow cock, white-eared pheasants, pink-headed duck, great Indian hornbill, narcondam hornbill, tragopan pheasant, fish-eating eagle, siberian white crane, white-bellied hereon, hill myna, vultures, kalij pheasant, tibetan eared pheasant. 

Part 4

This contains the list of crustacean and insects namely comic oakblue, cornelian, sapphires, hedge blue, sophisa Chandra, helcyra hemin, admirals, butterfly, tigers, crow black spotted, crow blue spotted, lycaenops, orchid, dillpa morgiana, family pieridae, polydorus coon sambilana, delias samaca, cyllogenes janetae, erebia annada, lethe Europa tamnua, papilio elephenor, symbrenthia silana, polydorus nevilli, colias dubi ,lethe ramdeva, elymnias peali, polydorus coon sambilana, polydorus hector, aporia harrietae harrietae, ypthima doherryi persimilis etc.

Part 4 (A)

This contains the list of coelenterates namely orange pipe coral (Tubipora musica), reef building coral which includes all scleractinians, fire coral which includes all millepora species, black coral which includes all antipatharians, sea fan which includes all gorgonians.

Part 4 (B)

It includes list of mollusca such as tudicla spirallus, cypraecassis rufa,  cassis cornuta, tridacna maxima, nautilus pompilius, conus milneedwardsi, tridacna squamosal.

Part 4 (C)

It includes Echinodermata sea cumber which includes all holothurians.

Schedule 2

Part 1

It includes bonnet macaque, Bengal porcupine, common langur, assamese macaque, stump tailed macaque, ferret badgers, wild dog or dhole, pig tailed macaque, Himalayan crestless porcupine, chameleon, Himalyan newtor salamander, spiny tailed lizard.

Part 2

It includes species of  beetles and other animals namely stichophthalma nourmahal, enispe cycnus, family amathueidae, discophora dea deadites, faunis sumens assama, amathuxida amythaon amythaon, aemona amathusia amathusia, discophora lepida lepida, family carabidae, gopala pita, acrocrypta rotundata, bimala indica, amara brucei, broscosma gracile, family cucujidae, family danaidae, cucujus bicolor, halpe homolea, amblypodia aenea, charana jalindra, horage onyx, lampides boeticus, everes kala, nacaduba ancyra, mahathala ameria, pratapa deva, rapala icetas, spindasis lohita, tajuria sebonga, tajuria thyia, civets (all species of viverridae Malabar civet), common fox, flying squirrels, king cobra, red fox, weasels, Indian cobra, rat snake, sloth bear, jungle cat, marmots, Himalayan black bear, olivaceous keelback, sperm whale, otters, martens, Himalayan brown bear, checkered keelback snake,jackal, common fox, dog faced  water snake, grey jungle fowl, Russel viper, mongooses, varanus species excluding yellow monitor lizard.

Schedule 3 

This schedule includes the list of following animals- barking deer, wild pig, chital, sambar, hegdeer, nilgai, hyaena, gorals.

Schedule 4 

This schedule includes Indian porcupine, birds other than those which appear in other schedules, polecats which includes vormela peregusna, mustela putorius, five striped palm squirrel, babblers, hedge hog, flamingos, buntings, finches, bulbuls, falcons, bustard qualis, fairy bluebirds, chloropsis, egrets, comb duck, ducks, coots, drongos, cormorants, doves, cranes, cuckoos, darters, curlews, megapodes, flowerpeckers, mannikins, flycatchers, magpies, geese, lorikeets, goldfinch and allies, larks, grebes, kingfishers, gerons, junglefowl, ibises, jacanas, iorars, minivest, owls, pigeons except the blue rock pigeon, starlings, pelicans, partridges, blue jays, pelicans, pipits, stone curlew, spurfowls, plovers, storks, sandgrouses, stilts, swans, thurushes, sunbirds, snipes, oystercatchers, orioles, nightjara, mynas, starlings, tree pies, weaver birds, woodpeckers, amilidae, wrens, viperidae, elapidae, hydrophidae, uropeltidae, typhlopidae, butterflies and moths, freshwater frogs, tortoise, three-keeled turtle, polytrema sinensis, tarucus ananda, polytrema discreta, euthalia lubentina, pelopidas assamensis, mollusca. 

Schedule 5  

This schedule includes rats, common crows, mice, fruit bats, jackal, bats.

Schedule 6

It includes blue vanda, red vanda, pitcher plant, kuth, beddomes cycad, ladies slipper orchids, pitcher plant. 


Section 18 

This section deals with the declaration of the sanctuary. The sanctuaries are declared by the State government. They have the authority to declare any area as a sanctuary by an official notification any area as wildlife sanctuary, provided that area is not already a reserve forest or have territorial waters. Any area to be declared as a sanctuary should have adequate floral, zoological significance, and adequate ecological, faunal significance for the proper protection and preservation and also for developing proper environment for wild animals. 

Section 19

Under section 19 the collector has to determine the nature, extent of a right of any person in or over the land which has been declared as a wildlife sanctuary. He has a right to inquire into the interference of any person with the land which has been reserved as wildlife sanctuary. 

Section 21

The notification which has been issued by the state government shall be published in all regional languages by the collector in every town or village, specially in the neighbourhood of the area comprising therein so as to specify the restrictions and limitations of the wildlife sanctuary. It also gives a chance to any other person claiming right over the property to present before the collector within two months from the date of such proclamation. The claim made by such a person must be in written form and should contain the necessary details, the amount, compensation details, if any, claimed in respect of such claim of property. 

Section 22

The collector after publishing such notice, should enquire on such claimant. It should ensure that such a person who is claiming on the property which has been declared as wildlife sanctuary has actual right on it and the claim preferred before him was presented according to the section 21 of the Wildlife Protection Act. This can be ascertained from the evidence presented by such a person or from the records of the State Government. 

Section 23

Section 23 talks about the powers of the collector which he may exercise during the due course of enquiry. The collector has an authority to send any official or to himself enter in or upon any land for the purpose of investigation, demarcate and make maps of the has power to approach civil court for the trial of suit. 

Section 24 & Section 25 

Under this section, the collector has to pass an order by rejecting or either by admitting the claim of a person claiming right over a property which has already been declared as the National Park or Sanctuary or Zoo. He can admit or reject the claim either in whole or in part. If the claim is accepted by the collector in whole or in part he shall exclude such land from the list of restricted areas or the areas which has been declared as wildlife sanctuary, or collector may pass an order to proceed to acquire such land by the agreement between the owner of the land and government has agreed to surrender his or her rights upon such property and compensation for the same can be paid, or can allow use of such land by the owner of the land within the limit of sanctuary with the consultation of the Chief Wildlife Warden. The collector may provide compensation in form of money or partly in property with the consent of court or with the consent of claimant. 

Section 27 

This section talks about the restriction in the sanctuary.

  • It states that no person shall enter or reside in the limits of the sanctuary other than the public servant who is on duty, any person who has taken a permission from Chief Wildlife Warden or any authorised officer who has taken the permission to reside within the limits of the sanctuary, any person who has a lawful right over the immovable property within the limits of the sanctuary, any person who is passing by the sanctuary through a highway and also the dependents of the authorised officer, dependents of the person having right over immovable property, or the dependents of a person who is staying within the limits of the sanctuary. 
  • It states that any person who resides within the limits of the sanctuary is bound to not commit an offence, if it is found that any kind of offence is done against the Act, such a person is bound to help in finding the offender, he or she is bound to report the death of any wild animal and also to take the charge of such an animal until the Chief Wildlife Warden takes the charge thereof, such a person is bound to extinguish any fire in such sanctuary of which he has knowledge or wherein a reasonable man could have known, such a person is also bound to assist the forest officer or chief wildlife warden or police officer in investigation of the offence. 
  • No person herein concerned shall molest any wild animal and should not be causing any damage, destroy, move or alter the boundary of the wildlife sanctuary.

Grant of permit and prohibition in sanctuary

  • Section 28 talks about the grant of permits given for the sanctuary. On an application to the chief wildlife warden, he or she may grant any person to reside or to enter in a sanctuary for investigation or study on wildlife, scientific research, tourism, wildlife photography, for the commencement of lawful business with any person staying within the limits of the sanctuary. The grant of permit may be subject to certain conditions and also on payment of fee as may be prescribed under this Act. 
  • Section 29, Section 30, Section 31, Section 32 of the Wildlife Protection Act talks about certain prohibition and restriction imposed under this Act for the management and protection of the sanctuaries. These sections state that no person shall set, kindle or leave any fire burning in the sanctuary, no person shall carry any weapon with them to the sanctuary, and no person shall carry or use any explosive, dangerous substances, chemicals to the sanctuary.

National Park

Section 35 

Section 35 of the Wildlife Protection Act deals with the declaration of a National park. 

  • The state government can declare an area as a National Park by official notification if it finds that such an area is by reason of its ecological, faunal, floral, zoological association deems fit for the purpose of establishing a national park and developing wildlife therein or its environment. The notification should declare the limits of an area which has to be declared as National Park.
  • When an area is to be declared as National Park shall apply for the investigation and determination of claims with respect to the area concerned. When the period for claims has elapsed and if any claim has arisen in relation to the land in question have been disposed of by the State Government, then all rights over the area which has to be declared as national park will be vested in the State Government. 
  • The alteration of the boundaries of a National Park cannot be made unless there is a resolution passed by the state legislature. 
  • No person should destroy or damage or exploit or remove any species of wildlife in the National Park except he or she has the permission granted by the Chief Wildlife Warden. Chief Wildlife Wardens can grant such permits to the concerned person only when the State Government is satisfied that such destruction, damage or exploitation is necessary for improvement, maintenance of the wildlife in the National Park. 
  • The livestock grazing is not allowed within the limited area of the National Park. There is an exception to this rule, only the person who has the permission to enter such a National Park and he or she is using such an animal as a vehicle, then the permission is granted for the livestock grazing. 

Central Zoo Authority and Recognition of zoo

Section 38

Section 38 states the power of the Central Government to declare any area as National Park or Sanctuary or zoo. This section contains Section 38A, Section 38B, Section 38C, Section 38D, Section 38E, Section 38F, Section 38G, Section 38H, Section 38I, Section 38J. 

 talks about the recognition of zoos, acquisition of animals by a zoo, prohibition of teasing, exploiting the animal in the zoo. 

Section 38A

  • This section talks about the constitution of the central zoo authority. According to this section the Central Government is supposed to constitute a body known as central zoo authority for the purpose of exercising the powers and functions assigned under this Act. 
  • This body should consist of a Chairperson, members not exceeding the number 10, and the Central Government should elect one Member Secretary. 

Section 38B 

This section defines the term of office and conditions for service by the members of the Central Zoo Authority. 

  •  Every member including the chairperson shall hold the office for not more than 3 years.
  • If any member or the chairperson wishes to resign from the office he/she has to give it in writing to the Central Government.
  • The Central Government can remove such a person, who is willing to resign or becomes insolvent, or he/she is of or has become of unsound mind and has been declared so by the competent court, or who is incapable of acting, or who is absent for three consecutive meetings of the Authority without obtaining the leave permission,or his/her continuance to the office is detrimental to the public interest due to some behavioural aspects such as abusing the position of the chairperson or any member.
  • Vacancies caused due to the removal of earlier members must be filled by the fresh appointment.
  • The conditions of appointment of the chairperson, salaries, allowances must be prescribed. 
  • To carry out the goals and purposes of the central zoo authority, the authority may appoint the members with prior permission from the Central Government.
  • The terms and conditions of service by the members, shall be as prescribed. 
  • Even if there is any defect in the constitution of the authority, the act or proceedings of the authority cannot be declared invalid or it cannot be questioned. 

Section 38C

According to this section, the Central Zoo Authority is bound to perform certain functions as stated below-

  • It should specify the standards of veterinary care for the animals in the zoo and the minimum housing standards. 
  • It should keep a regular check on the functioning of the zoo, and evaluate its compliance with the prescribed rules and norms. 
  • It has the function to recognise or derecognize the zoo.
  • It should identify and keep a record of the endangered species of wild animals for the purpose of captive breeding. 
  • It should assign the responsibility of the captive breeding to the competent member. 
  • It has to coordinate the loaning, exchanging, acquisition of animals for breeding purposes. 
  • It should keep a record or stud-books of endangered species of wild animals bred in captivity. 
  • It should for the purposes of the zoo, coordinate research and educational programmes.
  • It should set the priority and themes with regard to display of animals in the zoo. 
  • It should conduct the training of zoo personnel in India and outside India. 
  • It should provide required technical assistance, and other such assistance as required for the proper management and developing the scientific lens. 

Section 38D

This section talks about the procedure that has to be followed by the Authority. This section states that the Authority shall meet or hold the meetings as and when necessary and at that time and place the chairperson may think fit. All the ongoing procedure which leads to orders and decisions must be authenticated by the member secretary. The Authority should regulate its own procedure. 

Section 38E

This section deals with the grant and loans to Authority and fund related issues. 

  • The Central Government may make to the authority the grant and loans of the sum which the Government deems fit. The Central Government will have to make due appropriation with laws passed by the parliament. 
  • There has to be a fund constituted which is called the central zoo authority fund. All grants, loans made to the authority by the Central Government shall be credited thereto. All such sums, fees received by the authority shall be monitored by the Central Government.
  • The fund must be used for meeting the salary expenses, allowances and various other remuneration for the members, other officers and authorities. 
  • The authority is required to maintain the accounts and prepare the annual statement and such accounts in the form as the Central Government may prescribe in consultation with the Comptroller and the Auditor General of India. 
  • Such accounts of the authority shall be audited by the Comptroller and the Auditor General. Any expenses incurred in such auditing must be paid by the authority to the Auditor General.
  • The Comptroller and the Auditor General and any person who is appointed by him will have the same rights and duties in connection with such an audit as that of the Auditor General. Also he will have the right to demand the production of books, connected vouchers, accounts, other related documents, and various papers to inspect any of the offices of the authority.
  • The accounts of the authority once certified by the Auditor General or any person appointed by him shall be forwarded to the Central Government by the authority. 

Section 38F

This section talks about the annual report preparation procedure. The annual report for each financial year should be produced by the authority in time and form as prescribed by the Central Government. Authority is required to send a copy of such an annual report containing a full account of its activities of the previous financial year. 

Under this section, as soon as the reports are received by the Central Government from the authority they will either accept or will state the reason for non-acceptance, or recommendations if any. The Central Government shall cause the annual report with a memorandum of action to be laid before each House of Parliament as soon as they have received the annual report from the authority. 

Section 38H

This section deals with the recognition of zoos.

  •  No zoo can be opened without recognition by the authority. If a zoo is established immediately before the commencement of the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 1972 can continue to operate without being recognised till the period of 18 months from the date of its commencement and if the application is made within this period for recognition,  it shall continue to operate until the said application is accepted. In case the application is refused it can continue to operate for six months from the date of refusal.
  • The application for recognition of the zoo, should be made in the form as prescribed by the Central Government and fees must be paid as prescribed by the Central Government. 
  • Every recognition which is granted shall specify the conditions subject to which the applicant is required to operate. 
  • No recognition can be granted unless the authority has complied with the norms and standards prescribed and has the motive to protect and conserve the wildlife.
  • No application for recognition of the zoo can be rejected if the applicant has not been given a chance to be heard.
  • An appeal of rejecting, accepting or canceling the application for the recognition of zoo shall lie with the Central Government. 
  • Within 30 days from the date of communication to the applicant, the appeal has to be filed to the Central Government. The Central Government may accept the appeal after the prescribed time provided the applicant has a valid reason for such delay.  

Section 38I 

This section states that no zoo shall acquire any animal listed in Schedule1 and Schedule2 of this Act, unless they have prior permission of the concerned Authority. 

Section 38J

This section states that no person shall injure, feed, molest or cause disturbance to the wild animals in the zoo or shall not litter the ground, the area of the zoo. 

Trade and commerce in wild animals, articles, and trophies 

Section 39 

This section says all the wild animals are Government Property. It states- 

  • wild animals other than vermin, also wild animals which are found dead, or killed by mistake, Trophy or uncured trophy or other animal article or meat derived from the wild animal, ivory imported to India or any article made by such ivory, any vessel, weapon, trap, tool used to hunt the wild animal in the Zoo shall be the property of the State Government and in case of a National Park or Sanctuary then such will be the property of the Central Government. 
  • Any person who possesses any Government property, within the time of 48 hours should return it to the nearest police station or authorised officer. 
  • No person shall without the prior permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden acquire or keep anything in his possession or control, transfer such property by way of gift or sale, destroy or damage such government property. 

Section 43

This section talks about the regulations in the trade and transfer of the animals. It states- 

  • A person who doesn’t have the certificate of ownership, shall not in any case sell or offer to sell by the way of sale or by the way of gift any wild animal which are specified in Schedule 1, Schedule 2, they shall not make any article containing part or whole of any animal part or body, should not be involved in the process of taxidermy except when they have the permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden. 
  • If any person is shifting from one state to another and acquires by transfer any animal article, trophy or any uncured trophy from the state in which he used to reside earlier. Such transfer should be within 30 days reported to the Chief Wildlife Warden or any authorised officer whose jurisdiction the transfer has effected. No person who does not possess the ownership certificate should involve in any act of transfer of any animal or animal article or any uncured trophy. 
  • While issuing the certificate the Chief Wildlife Warden should do a proper enquiry, shall investigate to whom the earlier ownership certificate belongs to and then issue a fresh certificate in the name of the new owner. Also he or she may affix the identification mark on the body of the animal or uncured trophy or animal article. 

Prevention and detention of offences

Section 50 

This section deals with the power of entry, search, arrest and detention. It states- 

  • Notwithstanding with anything contained under any other law in force in the country if any authorised officer or the Director or any other person authorised by him or any other person authorised by the Chief Wildlife Warden or by Chief Wildlife Warden himself or any forest officer or any police officer who is not below the rank of sub-inspector has certain reasonable grounds that any person has committed any offence against this Act-
  1. Can ask such person to produce the required documents or any licence, permit for the inspection of the captive animal, plant or part or derivative of any animal under his control, trophy, uncured trophy, animal article, meat, any specified plant
  2. Can stop any vehicle or vessel for the required search or inquiry of any land, vehicle, premises, any baggage or any other things of such kind in his possession
  3. Can seize any such animal article, vehicle, vessel, weapon, captive animal, meat, trophy, wild animal, uncured trophy, plant or any part of it unless such authorised person is satisfied that person who has committed crime against this Act will appear and answer any charge which is preferred against him. If the fisherman residing within 10 kms of a Sanctuary or National park uses a boat not used for commercial fishing, in the territorial waters in the sanctuary or national park, no such boat will be seized. 
  • Any authorised person can order to stop any activity done by a person without any ownership certificate or licence or any permit, provided that according to this Act the permit or licence is required for such act. It is even lawful for the authorised officer to detain any person, to arrest such person unless if he satisfies the officer arresting him that he will duly answer any summons or proceedings which may be taken against him. 
  • Any person detained or the things which were seized in the course of exercising the power by any authorised officer, shall be produced before the Magistrate to be dealt in accordance with the law. 
  • Any person who has been suspected of acting unlawfully under this Act, if fails to produce the required documents, permit or licence or fails to prove his innocence shall be guilty for an offence under this Act. 
  • Where any uncured trophy, wild animal, meat, plant or any derivative of it has been seized by authorised officer, such authorised officer can arrange the sale of the same and will acquire and use the proceeds as may be prescribed under this Act. If it was proved that such property does not belong to the Government then such sale proceeds will be given to the owner. 
  • If any person approaches any authorised officer for prevention or detection of an offence, such assistance must be provided by the authorised officer. 
  • No person who is below the rank of Assistant Director or Wildlife Chief Warden shall have the power to issue the warrant, to compel any person to produce any document, to receive any evidence or to issue a search warrant. 

Cognizance of Offences

Section 55

This section states that no court should in any case take the cognizance or knowledge of any offence committed against this Act on the complaint of any other person than the Chief Wildlife Warden or any other person authorised in his behalf by the state or the Director of the Wildlife Protection or any other person authorised on his behalf or any person who has been given a notice of 60 days to make a complaint of the alleged offence to the Central Government or State Government or any authorised officer therein. 

Forfeiture of Property derived from illegal hunting and trade

In the Wildlife Amendment Act of 2002, a new chapter was incorporated which is Chapter 6(A). This chapter states that if any person or any group of persons or any trust acquired any property from illegal hunting or prohibited trade of wild animals under this Act the property would be forfeited by the State Government by the authorised officer. Such forfeiture of the property by the State Government can be done by the procedure established by law and by taking necessary steps such as investigation, search or survey of any property, place, people or documents. If it was found that only a part of property was acquired illegally, such a person would be given a chance and will be asked to pay the fine which is equivalent to the market value of the property. 

Case Law

Rajendra Kumar v. Union of India

In this case, the petitioner was running a business of carver ivory with the license issued by the State Government, which can be renewed year by year. The Wildlife Protection Act prescribes certain restraints on the trade and commerce in wild animals. The petitioner stated that due to the amendments made in section 5, 27, 33, 34, 35 and 37 has affected his business, his livelihood. Due to the amendment in the above mentioned sections, the import of ivory has been banned and so the petitioner is restrained from dealing in ivory business.

 The petitioner stated certain statistics for supporting his stand by producing the data of 300 years ago, that is, in the 3rd and 4th century the ivory trade has flourished immensely in India. It was considered to be one of the best Indian art and was an integral part of great Indian culture. It proved to be a great source of income for the Indian craftsmen. He also referred to the Schedules of the Wildlife Protection Act and had put before the Court that the list did not contain the Indian Elephant and it does not include the ivory derived from the mammoth. He also prayed that such a restriction would affect his right of freedom of trade and livelihood contained in Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution.

The court held that the amendment and the incorporation of chapter 6(A) was done in accordance and directions of the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The amendment clearly says that trade in african ivory is banned with a reason to protect the poaching of elephants and stop the fast dwindling of this species. So, the restriction was held to be valid. 


India is a country blessed with a huge diversity in natural resources. It has a variety of flora and fauna. Such resources must be protected and reserved. For the same reason, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 was brought into force. Many changes were brought with the Amendment Act,2002. This Act acts like a blanket of protection for various flora and fauna from illegal poaching, killing, trading in wild animals and various species of plants. This Act consists of 60 Sections and divided into 8 chapters. This Act empowers the State as well as the Central government to declare any area as Sanctuary, National Park. Various restrictions are imposed to carry any activity under these areas and officers are appointed to administer the activities which are carried on under those areas. Many restrictions on trade and commerce are imposed to stop the illegal activities. This act helps in protecting, conserving and preserving the wildlife. 


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