Legal Aspects Of Wildlife Conservation In India

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Legal Aspects Of Wildlife Conservation In India

Written By: Naveen Talawar


Wildlife is one of the most important biotic elements of the environment, it refers to those plants and animal species that live and grow in areas uninhabited by humans. It includes all non-domesticated animals, plants many other organisms, and fungi. Wildlife in India is precious a gift of nature, it is regarded as one of the richest biodiversity in the world, the wildlife in our country has a wide variety of species among plants and animals to protect and preserve these species India has set up around 104 national parks,18 bio reserves and more than 515 sanctuaries. 

The existence of wildlife is not only necessary for maintaining the balance in ecology but for the survival of other species also including man. But the development of human civilization has posed a serious threat to the habitat of wildlife. So to protect and preserve wildlife the government of India has enacted some legislation, most of the laws are in consonance with the international legislations and conventions enacted by the united nations and other international organizations concerning wildlife conservation and environment protection.

Wildlife conservation and its problems

The main purpose of wildlife conservation is to ensure the protection of wildlife and the preservation of nature and natural habitats. Wildlife conservation has become a major area of concern, it mainly aims at protecting the endangered species from becoming extinct due to various human activities. Due to the increase in human activities the wildlife is facing many threats, some of them are as follows:

  1. Human activities such as constructing dams, felling of the trees, using agricultural lands for constructing houses and roads destroys the habitat of the wildlife.
  2. Climate change and global warming have also played a role in posing threat to wildlife.
  3. Illegal hunting is another major threat to wildlife.
  4. The overexploitation of wild animals and plants for food, medicines, clothing, etc has affected the population of the wildlife especially the endangered species.
  5. The release of harmful toxins from the industries in the air and ever-increasing pollution from human activities has affected the wildlife and ultimately posed a threat to become extinct.

Thus to protect and preserve the wildlife Several international organizations were established through some international conventions and agreements. And after the formation of the UNO, many of the international agencies were set up for the conservation and protection of wildlife on the earth. Furthermore, the government of India has also enacted various laws and Acts for the protection and conservation of wildlife in the country.

Laws relating to wildlife conservation in India

1. The Wildlife(Protection) Act, 1972

This is umbrella legislation for wildlife conservation in India. It was enacted with the main objective of protecting wild animals and plant species to ensure the ecological and environmental security of the country. The main features of the act are as follows :

  1. The act provides for the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, etc 
  2. It prohibited the hunting of endangered species.
  3. A statutory organization named the national board for wildlife was constituted under the provisions of this act.
  4. The act also provided for the establishment of the national tiger conservation authority.
  5. The Act has included two new protected areas, Community reserves, and Conservation reserves.

2. The Indian Forests Act,1927

The Indian Forest Act,1927 is comprehensive legislation relating to forest management in the country. Its main objective is to consolidate the pre-existing laws relating to forests, the transit of forest produce, and the duty leviable on the timber and other forest produce. The Act also made the conservation of forest and Wildlife more accountable. 

The Act has also defined the procedures to be followed in declaring reserve, protected, or village forests. Further, the Act has prohibited, grazing of cattle, felling of trees, fishing, quarrying, use of forest products, and hunting in these forests.

3. The Forest (Conservation) Act,1980

The Act has been passed by parliament for the conservation of forests and the matters connected therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto. The Act was further amended in 1988 which places certain restrictions on the power of the state government concerning reservation of forests use of forest land for non-forest purposes.

4. The Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 

The Act was enacted to provide the protection and improvement of the environment as a whole. It also empowered the central government to establish suitable authorities for preventing environmental pollution in all forms and to resolve environmental problems arising within the country.

5. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002

India is regarded as one of the rich countries in terms of biological diversity, therefore it must protect and conserve its biological diversity. This responsibility has grown even more when India became the party to the united nations conventions on biological diversity signed in Rio. To give effect to this convention the parliament has passed the biological diversity Act. The main objective of the Act is to provide for the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.

6. National Wildlife Action Plan(NWAP)

The first National Wildlife Action Plan was adopted from 1983 to 2001 and the plan also outlined the strategies and action points for wildlife conservation. In 1988 to give primacy to conservation the national forest policy was formulated, which was primarily concerned with the sustainable use and conservation of forests. And later on, the second National wildlife Action Plan was adopted from 2002-2016 which replaced the earlier plan adopted in 1983 and introduced the need for a change in priorities given the increased commercial use of natural resources, the continued growth of human and livestock populations, and changes in consumption patterns.

In 2017 the third National Wildlife Action plan was unveiled from 2017-2031, this plan is unique because India for the first time has recognized the concerns relating to the climate change impact on wildlife and stressed on integrating actions that need to be taken for its mitigation and adaptation into wildlife management planning process. 


India is regarded as the richest country in terms of biodiversity, hence there is a need to protect this rich resource and to maintain a balanced environment. Wildlife protection and conservation is a huge task in India with the growing concern of illegal trade and exploitation of wildlife resources. Though the laws about the protection of wildlife and their natural habitat provide for the strict legal provisions for the wildlife and protection and conservation, it is still observed that the ground reality is not the same.


Naveen Talawar - The Law Communicants

Student at Karnataka State Law University’s Law School 


4th Year

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