"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 many animals to be extinct and threatening many others. These disastrous acts still go on. Living creatures being so dependant on each other and the survival of the human race also being dependant on them has caused great concern ill 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 dependant on the other for its survival, right from the algae and fungi down to humans. The extinction of any species 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 international convention on regulations on export, transit and import of rare or 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 and gall bladders accelerated India to enact the Wildlife (Protection) Act1972. India joined CITES in 1976 by Ratification.
However, the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 had some flaws and loopholes which were abused by unscrupulous traders, this led to an amendment in1986. There was a great influence on the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 by 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 wild life pr 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 was 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 N.G.O.s were allowed to take instances of violations directly to courts. A Central Zoo Authority was setup to ensure sound management of he 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 states. 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 may 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 III, 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 or 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.
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 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 Chief Wildlife Warden may grant a permit to hunt any wild animal for the purpose 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 preparation of snake venom for the manufacture of drugs. Previously permission was 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 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 constitute it to be a National Park by notification.
The boundaries may be altered only by a resolution of the State Legislate
(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 specified by notification and shall be known as a closed area.
case of zoo there is also a Central Zoo Authority for the p specifying the minimum standards of housing, upkeep and veterinary care of and accessing the functioning of Zoos maintaining stud-books, coordinate, ac 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. Certificate of ownership may be granted by the Chief Wildlife warden in case of possession, which he may mark in a prescribed form 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, Taxidermy dealing with trophy, captive animals or their meat.
The Director or any 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 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, from 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 a field as the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore and Malaysia. In an earlier case six handbags were seized made of snake skin (possibly keel back) that is believed to have been smuggled via Dubai from China.
A quick browse on the Internet for exotic leathers reveals thousands 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 Wild Life (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 police arrested one person and seized 3"5,100 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 in reptiles; in 1977, a staggering four million snake skins (mostly rat snake skins) were legally exported. It 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 reptile traders and a stay order, the ban was eventually upheld on 20 March 1997. In 1999, the Indian 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 animals 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 un-orthodoxical aspect of killing the innocent animals it can't be stopped. An awareness is necessary to protect the wild life throughout the world.
Essay on Wildlife Conservation!
Like forests, wildlife is also a national resource, which not only helps in maintaining the ecological balance but is also beneficial from economic, recreational and aesthetic points of view. There was a time when human interference was minimum the number of wild animals was quite high and there was no problem of their protection or conservation. But, with the expansion of agriculture, settlement, industrial and other developmental activities and mainly due to greed of man, the number of wild animals gradually became lesser and lesser. With the result that several species of animals have become extinct and several, others are on the verge of being so.
Deforestation is also one of the main reasons for the loss of wildlife. Mass killings of wild animals for their meat, bones, fur, teeth, hair, skin, etc., are going on throughout the world. Therefore, the need for wildlife conservation has now become a necessity.
Population growth, expansion of agriculture and livestock raising building of cities and roads, and pollution are among the many pressures on the natural habitat of wildlife. Along with illegal hunting, habitat reduction and its degradation has threatened the bio-diversity of the regions where these are rampant.
Preservation of wildlife does not mean a blanket protection to all faunal and floral species; rather, it implies a proper, judicious control over the multiplication of plants and animals, which interact together to provide a proper environment to man whose very existence is in peril today.
Due to the irrational use of natural and biotic resources of the earth in the past, most of the wildlife has been destroyed beyond retrieval. It is our urgent duty to protect the natural splendor of ecosystems and to evolve a system of co-existence with every living creature upon the earth.
Although must countries of the world are very particular regarding conservation of wildlife, the number of wild animals is reducing day by day. World Wild Life Fund is the international agency, which is doing commendable work in promoting the protection of wildlife. There are national agencies also engaged in the conservation of wildlife.
Some steps in the direction of wildlife conservation could be as follows:
(i) To survey and collect all the information about wildlife, especially, their number and growth.
(ii) To protect habitat by protecting forests.
(iii) To delimit the areas of their natural habitat.
(iv) To protect wildlife from pollution and from natural hazards.
(v) To impose complete restriction on hunting and capturing of wildlife.
(vi) To impose restrictions on export and import of wildlife products and severe punishment to be given to those who indulge in this activity.
(vii) To develop game sanctuaries for specific wild animals or for general world life.
(viii) To make special arrangements to protect those species whose number is very limited.
(ix) To develop general awareness at national and international level regarding protection of wildlife.
(x) To adopt a system of wildlife management through trained personnel.
India is a good example where several steps have been taken for wildlife conservation. It is a country of varied wildlife, where more than 500 types of wild animals, 2,100 types of birds and about 20,000 types of reptiles and fishes have been found. According to an estimate, in India, about 200 species of wild animals and birds have already become extinct and another 2,500 are on the verge of extinction.
Some of them are black buck, chinkara, wolf, swamp deer, nilgai, Indian gazelle, antelope, tiger, rhinoceros, gir lion, crocodile, flamingo, pelican, bustard, white crane, grey heron, mountain quail, etc. In India, the government and NGOs are taking keen interest in the protection of wildlife. The Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 has several provisions for the conservation of wildlife.
As many as 165 game sanctuaries and 21 national parks have been developed to protect the natural habitat and wild animals. Apart from this, a Wild Life Conservation Week is also celebrated from 7th of October every year. But still there is a long way to go in this direction.