Wildlife Protection Act 1972

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 was enacted for protection of plants and animal species. Prior to 1972, India only had five national parks and few wildlife sanctuaries. This act provided a legal framework for protected areas protection of wild animals, birds and plants with a view to ensure the ecological and environmental security of the country.

The act clearly defines crucial terms like hunting, wild animals, wildlife etc. to reduce ambiguity in interpretation of the law.


The act categories plants and animal species under 6 schedules based on the levels of protection required. Schedule I and part II of Schedule II lists out critically endangered species while Schedule III and Schedule IV covers vulnerable wildlife species. Plants are listed under Schedule VI.

Regulation of Hunting

The act prohibits hunting of animals listed under Schedule I and Schedule II. However, under special circumstances like education, scientific research etc. the Chief Wildlife Warden may grant permits for hunting/capturing of animals. Hunting of animals under Schedule III and Schedule IV is prohibited in Sanctuaries while it is regulated through permits elsewhere.

Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted. These are Common crow , Fruit bats, Mice & Rats only.

Whose permission is needed to hunt a man-eater?

India does not have a robust scientific or policy mechanism to minimise tiger human conflicts. A Standard Operating Procedure was released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority a few years back to deal with emergency arising due to straying of tigers to human settlements. The guidelines prohibit killing the tiger unless it has been declared a maneater. Only the chief wildlife warden of a state can permit hunting of man-eaters.

Schedule VI contains the plants, which are prohibited from cultivation and planting. Some of these plants are as follows

  • Beddomes’ cycad (Cycas beddomei)
  • Blue Vanda (Vanda soerulec)
  • Kuth (Saussurea lappa)
  • Ladies slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum spp.)
  • Pitcher plant (Nepenthes khasiana)
  • Red Vanda (Rananthera inschootiana)

What if one is interested in cultivating the plants of Schedule VI of the act?

If one is interested in cultivating plants listed under Schedule VI of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, they would need to acquire a license for the same. This is because cultivation, collection, extraction, trade, or any form of utilization of specified plants included in Schedule VI is strictly regulated to ensure their conservation and to prevent exploitation that could lead to their decline or extinction. The Chief Wildlife Warden or an authorized officer by the State Government is responsible for issuing licenses for the cultivation of such specified plants.

Creation of Protected Areas

The act defines five types of protected areas viz. National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Community Reserves, Conservation Reserves and Tiger Reserves. The act has six schedules with varying degrees of protection to different kinds of animals and plants.

Wildlife Sanctuary

A wildlife sanctuary is defined by State Government via a Notification. There is no need to pass a legislation (act) by the state assembly to declare a wildlife sanctuary. Fixation and alternation of boundary can be done by state legislature via resolution. No need to pass an act for alternation of boundaries. No alternation of boundaries in wildlife sanctuaries can be done without approval of the NBWL (National Board of Wildlife) Limited human activities are permitted in the sanctuary.

National Parks

Like the Wildlife Sanctuaries, a National Park is defined by state government via notification. The state government can fix and alter boundaries of the National Parks with prior consultation and approval with National Board of Wildlife. There is no need to pass an act for alternation of boundaries of National Parks.  No human activities are permitted in a National Park.

Similarities / Difference between a National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary


Commercial exploitation of forest produce in both areas is NOT allowed; except for local communities. No wild mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, fish, crustacean, insects, or coelenterates listed in four Schedules of the WLPA can be hunted either within or outside both of them, and also other conservation areas.


No grazing or private tenurial rights land rights are allowed in National Parks. In Wildlife sanctuaries, they may be provided at the discretion of Chief Wildlife warden.

Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves

These areas provide a greater role and opportunity for local communities, stakeholders and civil society to protect many areas of conservation value that cannot be designated under strict categories such as wildlife sanctuaries or national parks.

Tiger Reserves

Tiger Reserves are declared by National Tiger Conservation Authority via Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006 under centrally sponsored scheme called Project Tiger. To declare an area as Tiger Reserve, the state governments can forward their proposals in this regard to NTCA. Central Government via NTCA may also advise the state governments to forward a proposal for creation of Tiger Reserves. Tiger Reserves are managed by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). No alternation of boundary can be done without the recommendation of National Board for Wild Life and without the advice of the Tiger Conservation Authority.


The law imposes heavy fines and imprisonment for offenses related to hunting in Protected Areas, poisoning water holes, trespassing etc. Minimum penalties are prescribed under the law while more stringent punishment can be awarded by courts.

Wildlife Advisory Boards

The act provides for establishment of Wildlife Advisory Boards at national and state levels consisting of wildlife experts to advise respective governments on policy making, review conservation projects etc.

Through subsequent amendments over the years, more species have been added under schedules of the act while penalties were made more stringent. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and rules framed under it continue to be the backbone of India’s wildlife conservation efforts.

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