Home Essay/Articles ESSAY : Wild Life Protection
ESSAY : Wild Life Protection
Tuesday, 09 July 2013 10:45


 

Wild Life Protection

 

“Hunters and traders in fur, ivory, animals and animal articles have in their greed plundered forests and killed millions of innocent animals all over the world in order to make quick bucks, causing so any animals to be extinct and threatening many others. These disastrous acts still go on. Living creatures being so dependent on each other and the survival of the human race also being dependant on them has caused great concern in the international community right from the beginning of the 20th century”.

Nature has been the core of human existence. Over a period of time we, humans have in so many ways in the so called quest for development and making inventions and discoveries exploited and ravaged the base of our very existence.

Environment consists of the physical surroundings and conditions including the quality of air, water, greenery, vegetation and all forms of living creatures forming a habitat. Most of us in some part of our lives have experienced the “Web of Life” which shows us that every form of life is dependent on the other for its survival, right from the algae and fungi down to humans. The extinction of any species or creatures only goes out to break the chain of the cycle of normality of a balanced ecology.

In 1963, the World Conservation Union (IUCN Gen. Assembly) passed a resolution calling for an internal convention on regulations on export, transit and import of rare of threatened wildlife species, their skins and trophies. Ten years later 21 countries signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The main aim being to check on the over exploitation through international trade.

In 1972, the endangering of various species due to Trade in skins of Lizards, Monitors, snakes etc. sold in millions along with those of the Tiger, Rhino Horns, Bear paws an gall bladders accelerated India to enact the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. India joined CITES in 1976 by Ratification.

However, the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 had some flaws an loopholes which were used by unscrupulous traders, this led to an amendment in 1986. There was a great influence on the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 CITES, which led to an amendment in 1991 and caused the act to be even more stringent. Some of the salient features of the amendment were: That all hunting of Wildlife under Appendix I of Cites was prohibited. Collection and trade in specified plants (Dead or Alive) was prohibited.

Verification and marking with identification of stock of Wildlife products of licensed dealers was required.  Transportation of Wildlife and Wildlife products required a permit from an authorized officer that the product had been legally acquired. Trade in Ivory and its products were completely banned. Issue of firearms License within 10 Kms of a sanctuary without the concurrence of the Wildlife warden was prohibited. Vehicles, Arms, Vessels and Weapons used for the purpose of committing offences under the Act were to be seized. Commercial felling and exploitation of Flora was banned. Individuals and NGOs were allowed to take instances of violations directly to courts. A Central Zoo Authority was setup to ensure sound management of the Zoos.

CITES has played a very remarkable role in the development of Wildlife in India by working in coordination with Organizations like WWF- India and TRAFFIC- India by improving the enforcement of CITES through policy as well as Law, Controlling Trade in Wildlife and Wildlife products, Organizing training courses for Enforcement agencies like Police, Customs, Central Forensic Labs, INTERPOL officials, Parliamentarians, members of the Judiciary etc. It had been observed that it was only with the coordination and cooperation of these officials that with the objectives of CITES.

The enforcement of CITES was, however, the responsibility of member state. CITES management Centers have been setup in Amritsar, Dehradun, Delhi, Guhati, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin and Tuticorin. India is also responsible to submit an annual report to CITES based on its developments.

Some important Points of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972

(a)   Wildlife many include any animal, bees, butterflies, crustacean, Fish and moths; and aquatic or land vegetation which form part of any habitat.

(b)   Wild animal would mean any animal found wild in nature and includes any animal specified in Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule II, Schedule IV or Schedule V wherever found.

(c)   Habitat would include land, water or vegetation which is the natural home of any wild animal.

(d)   Hunting would include the capturing, killing, poisoning, snaring and trapping any wild animal and includes an attempt to do so or even driving an animal for the purpose. Injuring or destroying to taking any part of the body of such animal or bird or reptiles or even damaging their eggs or disturbing their nests would also mean hunting.

(e)   Trophy would include the whole or part of any captive wild animal other than vermin preserved by natural or artificial means and includes rugs, skins and specimens of such animals mounted in whole or part by taxidermy. Antler, horn hair, feather, nail, tooth musk, eggs and nest would also be called trophy.

(f)    Specified plants refers to the plants specified under Schedule VI.

Hunting:

The Act prohibits the hunting of any wild animal under Schedule I, II, III and IV. There are, however, certain exceptions like where the Chief Wildlife Warden is satisfied that the animal has become dangerous to human life or is diseased or disabled beyond recovery may permit the hunting by an order in writing stating the reasons. Self-defense or killing or wounding in good faith shall not be an offence. However such animal shall be the property of the government. On payment of prescribed fees the Chief Wildlife Warden may grant a permit to hunt any wild animals for the purpose of education, scientific research and management (reallocation to suitable habitat/population management without killing or poisoning or destroying wild animals.), collection of species for zoos, museums and similar institutions, collection and preparation of snake venum for the manufacture of drugs. Previous permission shall be required in case of animals under Schedule I to be granted by the Central Govt. and in case of all other animals from the State Govt.

Entry with weapons is also prohibited without previous permission of the Wildlife warden. It is the duty of the Wildlife Warden to immunize against all communicable diseases, livestock within 5 Kms of the sanctuary. The State Govt. may also if it deems fit that an area within or outside a sanctuary is by reason of ecological, floral, fauna, geomorphologic, natural or zoological association or importance constitute it to be a National Park by notification.

(a)   The boundaries may be altered only by a resolution of the State Legislature.

(b)   Littering and arson is also prohibited. Grazing of livestock is also prohibited.

(c)   The State Govt. may close for hunting any area for such period as may be specified by notification ans shall be known as a closed area.

In case of zoo there is also a Central Zoo Authority for the purposes of specifying the minimum standards of housing, upkeep and veterinary care of animals and accessing the functioning of Zoos maintaining stud-books, coordinate, acquisition, exchange and loan animals for breeding purposes etc.

Wild animals are basically the property of the Government. In case of any person has possession of such animal or article he may report it to the nearest police officer within 48 Hours or hand over such property to the officer-in-charge. No person shall acquire, possess, transfer, destroy or damage any such Govt. property.  Certificate of ownership may be granted by the Chief Wildlife Warden in case of a legal possession, which he may mark in a prescribed from for the purpose of identification.

Trade or commerce in trophies, animal articles etc. in Schedule I, Part II of Schedule II are prohibited by law. This includes the manufacture, import of Ivory, Taxidermy dealing with trophy, captive animals or their meat. No person other than the person has been issued a certificate keep under his control, sell, offer to sell or transfer any animals or animals articles as above.

The director or nay other officer authorized by him or any Chief Wildlife Warden may on reasonable suspicion require inspection of any captive animal, wild animal, meat, trophy (cured/uncured), specified plants or part thereof or license or permits. It may also stop any vehicle to search or inquire or enter and search premises, land, vehicle, vessel, open b baggage or other possessions. In case of illegal possessions he may also seize the illegal possession along with tools, traps, vehicles, vessels or weapons used for the commission of the crime. An arrest without a warrant is also possible.

Officers under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 are public servants and the actions done by the officers in good faith are not punishable. Persons assisting in the detection of an offence may be rewarded upto 20% of the amount of fine imposed.

In spite of the stringent provisions of the Act, the implementation of the Act is very poor. Every day newspapers reveals one or another story of the killing of animals or the trade in the skins of reptiles or the big cats.

In a recent case in Mumbai 29 python skins (Python reticulate) were seized by the Deputy Director Wildlife, Northern Region, Mr. S.K. Niraj, form a leather factory in Dharavi. Three people were detained including a Dutch lady who stated that she had imported the skins from Italy with the knowledge of Customs officials. It is now believed that the skins were procured both from domestic and foreign sources. This is the fifth or sixth case in succession, with leads as far afield as the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore and Malaysia. In an earlier case six handbags were seized made of snake skin (possible keel back) that is believed to have been smuggled via Dubai from China.

A quick browse on the Internet for exotic leathers reveals thousand of sites and companies selling and manufacturing products made from reptile skins. Exotic leather is back in fashion and taking a heavy toll on a number of endangered species. In many countries the manufacture and trade of reptile articles such as coats, shoes, bags and belts, is permitted. There are a number of such manufacturing units of snake skin products in China, Thailand and Malaysia.

In India, all trade in reptile products is prohibited under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. But a clandestine trade continues. There have been a number of seizures over the last two years where quantities of skins of snakes and other reptiles have been seized. In a major case in July 2002, in Bangalore the police arrested one person and seized 35,100 snake skins (mostly rat snake and cobra) and 12 bags containing cut pieces of lizard skins. The haul was valued at Rs one crore (US $ 2, 10,000) in the international market. The skins were allegedly brought from a village in Chittoor District in the Southern State of Andhra Pradesh. They were being taken to Chennai from where they were to be shipped to Singapore. Other large seizures have taken place in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

India has a long history of trade I reptiles; in 1977, a staggering four million snake skins (mostly rat snake skins) were legally exported. Ti is believed that the trade was so extensive that it played a major role in the huge increase in the rat population which particularly in the 1970s, decimated food grain stocks. The export of snake skin products was finally banned in 1986, and despite energetic appeals by retile traders and a stay order the ban was eventually upheld on 20 March 1997. In 1999, the Indi9an Government publicly burnt 1, 60,000 snake skins and over 5,.000 reptile skin shoes and bags in national Zoological Park, New Delhi. These stocks had been held for several years by Bharat Leather Corporation, an Indian Government enterprise dealing in the export of leather goods. Similar to the trade in big cat skins it seems that the wheel has come round again to jeopardize the future of our snakes and other reptiles.

Actually the fascination towards the animal’s skin and the big money lying in the trade are the main reasons of such hunting and the plundering of the forests. The Law alone can’t stop it fully. Unless the rich who are the main consumers of such items do not understand the futility of consuming such items and unorthodoxical aspect of killing the innocent animals it can’t be stopped. An awareness is necessary to protect the Wildlife throughout the world.



 

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