Wildlife Conservation in India- By Larish Setia

Wildlife Conservation in India- By Larish Setia

The key countries like affected by wildlife crime have failed to halt poaching and illegal trafficking of endangered animals as a result of widespread corruption and inadequate law enforcement, thus putting increasing numbers of species at risk of extinction.

Wildlife crime – a multibillion-dollar-a-year business run by large international syndicates –  remains a high-profit, low-risk venture, largely because of inaction on the part of governments who have publicly committed themselves to end the crisis but have failed to turn their obligations into effective action. That’s the key finding of a newly released report by the Environmental Investigation Agency. There were many initiatives were taken by the government but none of these initiatives have been carried on seriously and the results are devastating, hard on our flora and fauna. Government is not doing enough to stop wildlife crime.

Steps Taken By Indian Government to Protect Biodiversity
Along with above-specified conservation projects of the wild animals, GOI has also initiated few schemes that are worked upon to protect the biodiversity and minimize the mortality of critically endangered, endangered and threatened animals. Here are a few important steps that the Government of India has taken for wildlife protection:

In the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, GOI created Protected Areas like National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves for the wildlife and imposed punishments on those indulging in an illegal act of hunting. Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010 have been drafted to protect wetlands in India. The Central Government has also initiated the scheme, National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-System that lends assistance to the states for the sound management of all wetlands. In order to curb the illegal trade of wildlife and that of endangered species, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established. To check the dwindling population of Gyps vulture in India, Government of India has banned the veterinary use of diclofenac drug. The State Governments have been asked to strengthen the field formations and increase patrolling in and around the Protected Areas. In order to strengthen tiger conservation, the National Tiger Conservation Authority is constituted by Government of India.

Important Environment and Biodiversity Acts Passed by the Indian Government
Fisheries Act 1897
Indian Forests Act 1927
Mining And Mineral Development Regulation Act 1957
Prevention of Cruelty To Animals 1960
Wildlife Protection Act of 1972
Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974
Biological Diversity Act of 2002
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act 2006

Not only this, there are a few International schemes and projects that India has signed drafted with its neighbors, Nepal and Bangladesh related to illegal wildlife species trade and conservation of tigers and leopards. Apart from this, there are plenty of other legal, administrative and financial steps that Government of India has taken for effective wildlife conservation in the country. National biodiversity plan admits India has failed to conserve biodiversity. The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) says India’s vast gene pool in agriculture and livestock has been widely ignored, creating a food security risk in the country. Measures to conserve its rich biodiversity have not been sufficient. Despite many laws in place (Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Forest (Conservation Act), 1980, Biological Diversity Act, 2002), the report admits that there is lack of effective enforcement of the laws to protect biodiversity.

India now has just 12 varieties of food, which provide 80 percent of the food energy. Changing lifestyles have affected variety, taste and nutritional value of food. Agricultural biodiversity has been declining in India with more number of crops being commercially cultivated. The number of varieties grown under different agricultural systems has also fallen. Over 300,000 samples of indigenous plants kept in the National Gene Bank have gone out of cultivation. About 90 percent of India’s traditional herbs are being traded. India’s share in the global complementary medicine market valued at us, $62 billion is only 0.3 percent, out of which 70 percent comes from the export of raw materials. Grasslands, rivers, wetlands and coastal and marine ecosystems are under threat causing widespread damage in the support system for various species. Grassland species like the Great Indian Bustard are under threat, more than 400,000 species in India needs to be recorded. Lack of experts is affecting identification. 

CORRUPTION AND ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE
Illegal wildlife trade is facilitated by many diverse forms of corruption. Examples include wildlife protection, management, and enforcement personnel turning a blind eye to or facilitating wildlife poaching, fishing, logging, trafficking or other illegal activities, document fraud, the misplacement of records relating to the prosecution, and even participation in illegal wildlife trade by individuals charged with protecting wildlife.

It’s time for action:
The report identifies a number of priority actions which the countries need to take urgently by issuing the necessary “directives assigning political and financial resources to combat wildlife crime”. Key actions include:

» Addressing legal loopholes and strengthening law enforcement, as well as the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crime, by providing sufficient resources and funding;
» Making sure that wildlife crime is prosecuted using laws which carry the highest possible sentences;
» Investigating and prosecuting government officials linked to corrupt practices.
» Closing domestic markets for threatened species and destroying stockpiled wildlife products; 
» Researching and implementing “professional, targeted demand reduction campaigns”.

NEWS AND DATA
– Wildlife body recommends section 144 in animal emergencies. The main provision will be used to ‘prevent people from gathering in large number, which aggravates wildlife emergency situation’
– Supreme court seeks the center’s reply on ways to tackle man-animal conflict. Trained staff should be there to deal with such situations. He also sought for a committee to examine unregulated activities in the forest.
– PETA India back center’s proposal to an animal in a circus. The petition was signed by over 8000 people, including school and college student and celebrities.
– The terrestrial LPI shows that populations have declined by thirty-eight percent overall between 1970 and 2012
– According to WWF’s living planet report 2018 on average, we have seen an astonishing 60% decline in the size of the population of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in just 40 years. To be more specific, I would like to mention terrestrial, freshwater and marine LPI:- The freshwater LPI shows that an average the abundance of population monitored in the freshwater system has declined by eighty-one percent between 1970 and 2012.

Wildlife Conservation in India- By Larish Setia