WILDLIFE CRIMES IN INDIA
Updated: Feb 6
Swathi G, III Year of B.A.,LL.B, from CBR National college of law Shimoga, karnataka.
Wildlife crime is harvesting and trade of wild species contrary to the law. Wild animals have the right to live free in their natural habitats. Excessive poaching and trading of animals affects the whole global community as it endangers the natural food chain and natural resources. Poaching and trading has its connection from the local community to international markets. Nevertheless, it is a profit motive industry for example, one kg of ivory worth approximately 100 dollars. It is quite difficult to figure out the reliable market value of this illegal traffic, but it has a large economic interest. Most of the poor people involved in trafficking are not directly benefited by this, they might get some sort of benefits, and it is very less compared to the value of the international market. The people who were involved in the illegal trade were either desperate or greedy enough to break the law and poach. Evidently poverty and poaching are inseparable.
It is very important to respect the other species and must dedicate efforts to protecting their rights. Even though the state and people have a duty towards protection of animals and laws to impose punishments to wildlife related crimes, there is a drastic increase in wildlife trade which is a result of poor implementation of laws, corrupted system, toothless law, and a weak judiciary system.
As the human population grown, most of the people in the world were accustomed to a lifestyle which demanded for wildlife. Overexploitation of the environment and its species endangers wildlife the most, as overfishing causes imbalance in the whole marine system. It is so serious that illegal and unlawful killing has gradually increased as it is a multibillion-dollar industry, and for this reason more than 5500 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are sold and bought in the global market.
In recent decades humans became so dominant that as a result, both domestic and undomesticated animals are slaughtered, and many natural resources are perishing due to human greed. The mother earth is suffering from increased crime over wildlife and its illegal trade.
MEANING OF WILDLIFE CRIME
Wild animals are animals which can be found all over the ecosystem, and they live in a specific natural habitat without being introduced to human. However, it finds its own food, shelter and lives in its natural habitat; Admittedly, they are harsh and shy as to human concerned.
Wildlife includes any animals as defined under wildlife protection act, 1972.“Animals” includes amphibians, reptiles, (their young ones, in case of birds, it includes reptiles and their eggs) bees, butterflies, crustacean, fish and kites; and aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of habitats.
Wildlife crime includes activities that affect wildlife more indirectly, such as pollution of waterways that result in damage to fish, other wildlife or the destruction of protected wildlife habitats. The process of urbanization has been destroying the dense forests. Consequently, most of the wild animals lost their home, many of them died (due to hunger and other reasons), some of them were rescued.
Poaching is another threat to the wildlife. It includes illicit exploitation of natural resources such as poaching of an elephant, uprooting of rare orchid, unauthorised logging of trees or unauthorised/unlicensed netting of sturgeons. Poaching encompasses an illegal live trapping of animals that are sold or traded for profit.
Wildlife crime is harvesting and trade of wild species contrary to the law. Crime which involves subsequent acts such as the processing of wildlife into products, their transportation, offer for sale, possession etc. It also includes the concealment and laundering of the financial benefit made from these crimes.
POACHING AND WILDLIFE RELATED CRIMES INDIA
Wildlife trafficking is a big business run by people with international networks which might be dangerous, wildlife and animal parts are trafficked much similar to illegal drugs and weapons. By its very nature, it is almost impossible to get precise figures for the value of the illegal wildlife transactions. Experts at TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, estimate that it runs into billions of dollars.
India is rich in wildlife. According to Valmik taper, in 1997, there were 13000 species of flowering plants and 65000 species of fauna including fish, birds and mammals in India.
In India, illegal trades include diverse products including rhino hair; bone, skin and whiskers of tigers and leopards; turtle shells etc. Poaching of an elephant for ivory and a tiger for their skin and bones. However, numerous other animals are similarly over exploited, from marine turtles to valuable trees. Every animal’s trade is not illegal, wild plants and animals from the variety of species are caught and harvested from their natural home and sold legitimately for consumption and as pets, ornamental plants, leather, tourist ornaments and medicine.
A large part of this trade is for the international market, and it has no direct demand in the country itself. According to UN wildlife crime report (2017-18), India is one among the nations which supply body parts of tigers highest in numbers.
The survey held in 2017 by wildlife protection society of India shows the data of animals which are illegally traded and poached. More than 50 tigers were poached, 340 peacocks and almost 37267 turtles were traded, which means the government seized 100 turtles every day last year. Scaly anteaters or pangolins which are high in demand in china for it is philtre (aphrodisiac) and medicinal value, remains at commination to the natural resource of the country with 100,000 captured illegally every year. This animal scale is typically dried and grinded into powder which may be turned into a pill, pangolins are the world’s most trafficked non-human animal.
Thousands of lives are being trafficked for the limitless greed of humans. While human focussing on profit and enjoying luxurious animal products, the impacts are being suffered by wildlife. Such impacted species are, black bucks, blue bills, chinkaras, elephants, tigers, leopards, peacock, deer, rhinoceros, wild boar, Indian pangolin, tokay gecko, star tortoise, hill Myah, red sand bow, black rhino, white rhino, java rhino, Sumatran rhino and assamese rhino; green turtle, hawksbill turtle and leather black turtle; elephant; Bengal tiger, amur tiger, Indochinese tiger, Malayan tiger.
Wildlife crime reports of India 2020
India lost 110 tigers, 491 leopards in 2019: poaching report January 1, 2020
1300 wild lives killed by electric shock in India in a decade report, 5th October 2020
Laws with respect to wildlife protection
The Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972, this act was established to protect plants and animals. Prior to 1972, India had only a few national parks. Amendment that was made in 2003 provides penalties for offences under this act more stringent
Under this act chapter VA criminal shall be punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years and penalties. This act was particularly enacted to protect wildlife; furthermore, it was amended to strengthen the law and to stop people from smuggling animal skin and ivory for commercial purpose, selling to foreign markets and getting high profits. Then given importance to the zoo’s in protection of endangered animals
In India to stop hunting, the rule has been enacted “Indian forest act, 1927.” It restricts hunting in protected and reserved areas
India has a rich heritage and natural resources. To protect the wildlife and natural resources, WILDLIFE CONTROL BUREAU was established on 4th September 2006
Prevention of cruelty to animals’ act 1960
Under this act, the offender is liable to pay penalties (10 — 50 rupees); this act includes beating, mutilating and torturing
Section 428 and 429 of Indian penal code provides punishments up to 5 years with fine for an offence of maiming or killing animals
Article 48A of the Indian constitution imposes a duty on the state to protect and safeguard the forest and wildlife in the country
Under 51-A(g) of the Indian constitution imposes a duty on every citizen of India to protect and have compassion towards all living creature
PREVENTION OF WILDLIFE CRIME
There should be a strict punishment pertaining to the wildlife crime as similar to the punishments imposed on the heinous crime or homicide;
Penalties and punishments for violence against animals are not effective as the sanctions exist for violence against humans; Weak penalties are the reason for such cruelty; as for this reason, making the punishments harder can prevent authority from bribery and people from committing crimes
Educating people anent to the outweigh of existence of wildlife and natural resources and contribution of wildlife to the ecosystem
It is necessary to eradicate the loopholes in the existing law and provide a speedy trial related to such crimes
Providing forest guards a necessary facility with well-equipped guarding tools in order to encourage them to do the work assigned to them
Maintain checks and balances of the duties performing by the respective authorities
Installation of technology to protect both trees and animals
Government should provide the helpline to get proper information so people can immediately contact the respected authority to inform when they have seen such things happening around them.
People cannot do it alone and vice versa; Coordination between people and the government is necessary to achieve the goal