Author : Yashveer Singh Virk, a student at CCS University


The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 2002 introduced substantial modifications to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. One notably alteration lies in the amendment of the 1972 Act’s comprehensive title, which now explicitly outlines its objectives as twofold.

  1. Ensuring the safeguarding of wild animals, birds, and plants, along with addressing associated or incidental issues.
  2. Guaranteeing the environmental and ecological security of the nation.

This amended scope underscores the Act’s dual focus on the protection of wildlife and the preservation of the environment, thereby reflecting a broader commitment to biodiversity conservation and ecological sustainability.


  • To emphasize the environmental and ecological objectives within the overarching title of the Wildlife Act.
  • To incorporate updated definitions that reflect proposed amendments to the Wildlife Act.
  • To grant legal recognition to the National Board for Wildlife and revamp State Wildlife Advisory Boards, ensuring comprehensive representation of all stakeholders involved.
  • To establish certain safeguards against the indiscriminate killing of animals under the pretext of posing threats to human life and property.
  • To safeguard and facilitate the process of formal notification for sanctuaries and national parks, preventing biodiversity loss during the transitional period between initial and final notifications.
  • To stipulate that any alterations to the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries must be made solely based on notifications and recommendations from the National Board for Wildlife.
  • To prohibit the sale of forest produce extracted from national parks and sanctuaries, enhancing wildlife management practices.
  • To mandate prior approval from the National Board for Wildlife for any construction of tourist lodges, hotels, zoos, and safari parks within national parks and sanctuaries.
  • To empower officials to address violations occurring within national parks and sanctuaries effectively.
  • To facilitate the establishment and administration of community reserves and conservation reserves, ensuring that zoos only transfer or receive wild or captive animals from recognized and affiliated institutions.
  • To specify that captive animals and wild animals listed in Schedules I and II of the Wildlife Act, along with their parts and products, can only be acquired through inheritance.
  • To amend and rationalize penalties outlined in the Act, aligning them with the provisions of Chapter VA of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, concerning offenses related to wildlife listed in Schedules I and II.
  • To increase the amount payable as rewards to individuals aiding in the detection of offenses and apprehension of offenders.
  • To raise the maximum compensation amount from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 25,000.
  • To ensure that vehicles, weapons, tools, etc., used in committing compoundable offenses are not returned to the offenders.


Crimes involving wild animals categorized under Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II (or their derivatives) attract heightened penalties. These may encompass activities such as hunting or endeavors to alter the boundaries of sanctuaries or parks. The prescribed minimum term of imprisonment stands at three years, extendable up to seven years, coupled with a base fine of Rs. 10,000/-.

For subsequent offenses of a similar nature, the detention period escalates to potentially seven years, alongside a minimum fine of Rs. 25,000/-. Additionally, a new section (51-A) has been incorporated into the Act to ensure stringent conditions for granting bail. Specifically, individuals accused of offenses under Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II, hunting within park or sanctuary limits, or tampering with their boundaries cannot be released on bail if they have a prior conviction under this Act, regardless of the provisions outlined in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The Public Prosecutor is empowered to contest bail applications, and if the Court is convinced that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is innocent and unlikely to commit further offenses while on bail, bail may be granted.

To enhance intelligence gathering in wildlife crime, the provision for informant rewards has been amplified from 20% to 50% of the fine and composition money in each case. Furthermore, a reward of up to Rs. 10,000/- is proposed for informants and others aiding in the detection and arrest of wildlife criminals.

Ownership certificates for animals listed under Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II now permit their sale or gifting. However, this alteration is intended to curb illicit trade, with acquisition of Schedule I or Part II animals, items, or trophies restricted to inheritance, except for live elephants.

Stringent measures are also slated for the confiscation of assets belonging to convicted environmental offenders, mirroring provisions in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Additionally, protocols have been devised to enable authorities to evict violators from Protected Areas.

Offenses unrelated to endangered species hunting, such as those involving the exchange and trade of trophies, animal artifacts, and related items (excluding Chapter V A and section 38J), are punishable by a maximum prison term of three years and a fine of Rs. 25,000/-.


The 2002 amendment legislation introduced a confiscation tribunal tasked with seizing assets derived from illegal hunting and trading. However, despite its establishment, no officials such as inquiry officers, confiscation officers, or tribunal members have been appointed or put in place.

A conflict arises between the objectives of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 2002 and the Forest Rights Act of 2006, primarily due to recurring confrontations between resource-poor farmers, tribal communities, and wildlife animals, often exacerbated by encounters with forest guards.

Forest guards face significant shortcomings in their training, particularly in areas concerning species diversity, animal behavior, landscape management to address porosity and fragmentation, understanding of the Zone of Influence, and Animal Classification.

Furthermore, forest guards are not equipped with weapons, leaving them vulnerable in encounters with poachers, often resulting in their retreat rather than confrontation.


Section 32 prohibits the use of harmful substances within sanctuaries to safeguard wildlife from injury or endangerment. Legal precedents such as T.N. Godavarman Thirumalpad v. Union of India (2006) demonstrate the judiciary’s commitment to enforcing wildlife protection measures. For instance, the Supreme Court upheld the Central Empowered Committee’s recommendation to remove fishing tanks and bunds used for pisciculture from the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary.

Similarly, in Maa Dasabhuja Furniture Unit v. State of Orissa and Others, the Orissa High Court rejected a petition seeking a license for a sawmill situated within 10 kilometers of the Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary. Upholding conservation efforts, the Uttarakhand High Court, in Mohd. Hazi Rafeeq v. State of Uttaranchal (2006), dismissed a petition for a sawmill license near the Rajaji National Park’s boundary.

Moreover, legal battles such as those in Center for Environmental Law, WWF India v. Union of India (1995) and Goa Foundation v. Union of India (2004) have resulted in the Supreme Court’s directive that any non-forest activity within sanctuaries, National Parks, or within 10 kilometers of their boundaries necessitates prior consultation with the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife.

Further illustrating the judiciary’s stance, the Jharkhand High Court, in Satyapal Verma v. State of Jharkhand (2004), upheld the Chief Wildlife Warden’s decision to ban mineral-filled trucks’ movement through the Betla Wildlife Sanctuary. Similarly, the Allahabad High Court, in Kamla Kant Pandey v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2006), canceled a mining lease encroaching upon the Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary.

In significant rulings like Gujarat Navodaya Mandal v. State & State of Rajasthan v. Salman Khan and Others (2012), the Rajasthan High Court emphasized that harm to wildlife constitutes ecological loss. Additionally, it clarified that using firearms against wildlife constitutes offenses under Sections 425 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, which cover mischief and criminal trespass. The court interpreted Section 141 of the IPC to encompass offenses under the Wildlife Protection Act, broadening the legal framework for wildlife conservation and enforcement.


The primary environmental challenges facing the nation are intricately tied to the interplay of environmental degradation, multifaceted poverty, and economic development. These challenges are closely intertwined with the condition of ecological resources such as land, water, air, and their respective ecosystems.

Factors such as population growth, unethical decision-making regarding innovation and resource utilization, and widespread poverty act as immediate catalysts for environmental deterioration, leading to shifts in the dynamic between humans and their surroundings. This is evident in activities like intensive agriculture, polluting industries, and rapid, unplanned urbanization.

The state of wildlife within a given area serves as a reliable indicator of the condition of environmental assets, which form the fundamental basis of human well-being. This correlation is rooted in the concept of biodiversity, wherein wildlife plays a pivotal role as a key component. Moreover, certain species of wildlife hold immense ecological value and contribute significantly to sustaining ecosystems. Therefore, safeguarding entire ecosystems is imperative for wildlife conservation.

These perspectives hold particular significance in the context of Section 32 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Recognizing wildlife as an integral part of the web of life underscores our paramount responsibility to conserve and protect its richness for the benefit of future generations. Consequently, it becomes imperative to prioritize the conservation of endangered species and diverse vegetation. Through appropriate amendments and enforcement, the Wildlife (Protection) Act serves as a vital legal instrument in promoting wildlife conservation within the framework of Indian law.


In conclusion, the Wildlife Protection Act and its subsequent amendments serve as the cornerstone of legal mechanisms aimed at safeguarding wildlife and their habitats. Through strategic measures such as enhancing executive authority and streamlining the process of converting closed areas into national parks or sanctuaries, the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act of 2002 has effectively bolstered the efficacy of the legislation. By augmenting the penalties and duration of enforcement, this amendment ensures a more robust framework for achieving the Act’s overarching objectives and rectifying any deficiencies inherent in its implementation.

Moreover, the emphasis on executive action and administrative measures underscores a proactive approach towards wildlife conservation, facilitating the swift and effective protection of vulnerable species and ecosystems. By empowering authorities and streamlining processes, the amended legislation enables a more agile response to emerging threats and challenges faced by wildlife.

Furthermore, the expansion of penalty provisions serves as a deterrent against wildlife-related offenses, thereby promoting compliance with conservation regulations and fostering a culture of accountability. This not only strengthens the enforcement of existing laws but also sends a clear message about the seriousness of wildlife protection in the eyes of the law.

In essence, the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act of 2002 represents a significant milestone in the evolution of wildlife conservation laws in India. By addressing key shortcomings and bolstering enforcement mechanisms, it reinforces the commitment towards protecting the nation’s rich biodiversity for present and future generations. With these considerations in mind, it is evident that Section 32 of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act of 1972 plays a pivotal role in advancing the cause of wildlife conservation within the legal framework of the country.

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