[Answered] Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 requires some changes to make it more suitable for wildlife conservation. Comment.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Explain some key provisions of the Bill. Also write some issues which require changes to make it more suitable for wildlife conservation.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 seeks to amend the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. It makes a significant amendment as it reduces the number of schedules from six to four and seeks to increase the species protected under the law and implement the CITES.

Key provisions of the Bill:

  • Rationalizing schedules: The Bill reduces the total number of schedules from six to four.
  • Permitted certain activities:The Bill seeks better management of protected areas and provides for certain permitted activities like grazing, movement of livestock, and bona fide use of drinking and household water by local communities.
  • Captive elephants: The Bill permits the transfer or transport of a captive elephant for a religious or any other purpose by a person having a valid certificate of ownership.
  • Conservation reserves: The Bill empowers both Central and State governments to declare areas adjacent to national parks and sanctuaries as a conservation reserves, for protecting flora and fauna.
  • Alien species:The Bill empowers the Central government to regulate and stop the import, trade or possession of invasive plant or animal alien species.

However in Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 following issues require changes to make it more suitable for wildlife conservation:

  • The Bill allows for commercial trade In Live Elephants. The prohibition on commercial transfer only drove the live elephant trade underground as traders switched to dressing up commercial deals as gift deeds to bypass the 2003 amendment. According to the Parliamentary Standing Committee instead of the blanket exemption, limit it only to temple elephants kept for religious purposes.
  • The bill severely curtailed theability to graze across pastoral spaces in the conservation areas. The Van Gujjars are a semi-nomadic pastoral community (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh) that may be impacted.
  • The Bill seeks to do away with Schedule V for vermin species entirely. This gives the Centre direct power to declare any species to be ‘vermin’ and make way for them to be freely hunted. Thus, declaring any species as vermin becomes easier.

There is an imminent need to expand the definition of invasive alien species to include invasive native species also.

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