Wildlife plays an important role in conserving & maintaining ecological balance. The first comprehensive legislation related to the conservation and protection of wildlife was passed by the Government on 9th September, 1972.
Wildlife is the most precious gift of God to earth. The term “Wildlife” not only includes Wild animals, but also includes all other undomesticated animals like birds, insects, reptiles, molluscs etc. Every animal has its own value & place in food chain. If any animal disappears from the food chain then the whole chain would undergo drastic changes. Together all these food chain results in the food web.
At present, many of the animals are at the risk of becoming endangered due to the increasing activity of humans; we are interfering in their habitat. Development projects, farming by humans are some of the reasons of habitat destruction. Poaching & hunting for animal fur, meat, and leather are some of the most obvious reasons for wildlife extinction.
Wildlife Clearance is a clearance or permission required as per Supreme Court order to establish any industry or development projects within 10 km radius of any protected area from National Board of Wildlife (NBWL), Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC). The term Wildlife Clearance is introduced in the Wildlife Protection Act, to protect the wildlife & their habitat.
What is Wildlife Protection Act?
Wildlife Protection Act is the act of Parliament of India enacted for the protection & conservation of wildlife or it can be defined as an act that provides for protection of wildlife.
According to Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 an "animal" involves all land animals, aquatic animals, aves, insects and reptiles and their young ones, and also involves their eggs.
Goals of the Wildlife Protection Act are:
- To protect wildlife
- To stop illegal hunting & poaching of wildlife
- To conserve the wildlife habitat
- To provide medical care to wild animals
- To restrict trade of wild animals and their product
Protected Areas for Wildlife
According to the Wildlife Protection Act, some areas are provided for the protection & conservation of wildlife & these areas are called wildlife protected areas. Wildlife Protected Areas include National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Zoological Parks and Biosphere Reserves.
- National Parks are protected areas with boundaries defined by the government
- National Parks not only protect animals but also the entire ecosystem
- Human Activities are not allowed here at all
- They are on the surveillance by the government only.
- There are 104 national parks in India accounting an area of 40501.13 km2
- Wildlife Sanctuaries are protected areas with boundaries not exactly defined
- Wildlife Sanctuaries are only for the purpose of wildlife protection
- Human Activities are allowed bit to some extent like grazing, collection of herbs, fodder & fuel
- They may be catered by government & private body
- Wild animals are protected in their dwelling environment
- There are 551 existing wildlife sanctuaries in India accounting an area of 119775.80km2
- Zoological Parks are protected areas with area less than as compared to other protected areas
- Animals are protected in human made habitat
- Boundaries are defined
- At present there are 1800 zoological parks in India
- Biospheres Reserves are protected areas having comparatively larger area as compared to other protected areas with fixed boundaries
- Biosphere Reserve protects the entire biodiversity (flora & fauna)
- There are 3 zones in Biosphere Reserve i.e. core zone, buffer zone & transition zone
- No human activities are allowed in the core zone, core zone is the most sensitive zone
- However, human activities may be allowed in buffer zone & transition zone
- They are solely owned by the government
- There 18 biosphere reserves in India
Environmental laws applicable for Wildlife Clearance
Before any project proponent start activity in a Wildlife Protected Area land, he/she shall apply for Wildlife Clearance. The Concerned department after scrutinizing all the documents of the project proponent makes decision to grant or reject the permission.
The important central Wildlife legislations in India are:
- The Wildlife Rules, 1973
- The Wildlife Central Rules, 1973
- The Wildlife (Protection) Licensing Rules, 1983
- Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992
- The Wildlife (Protection) Rules, 1995
- The Wildlife (Specified Plants- Conditions) Rules, 1995
- The Wildlife (Specified Plant) Central Rules, 1995
- The Declaration of Wild Life Stock Rules, 2003
- The National Board for Wildlife Rules, 2003