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Wildlife Protection Act 1972 – Wild Life Sanctuary – National Parks – Biosphere Reserves

Wildlife Protection Act 1972

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species. Before 1972, India only had five designated national parks. Among other reforms, the Act established schedules of protected plant and animal species; hunting or harvesting these species was largely outlawed.

Key Provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act

  1. Schedule I and II are the most potent sections of the act. This section covers animals which are in the category of endangered species. The sections in this schedule give absolute protection to certain species and these cannot be infringed on any account.
  2. Schedule III and IV. These also have roughly the same provisions of Section I and II, but cover animals that are not in danger of becoming extinct. The penalties under this section are also less than Schedule I and II.
  3. Schedule V delineates animals that can be hunted like ducks and deer’s. For this purpose the hunter has to apply for a license to the District Forest Officer who will allow a hunter to shoot during a specific season and restricted area. Any infringement can lead to cancellation of the hunting license.
  4. Schedule VI concerns cultivation and plant life and gives teeth to setting up more protected animal parks.

Wild Life Sanctuary

Wildlife sanctuaries are established by IUCN category II protected areas. India has 543 wildlife sanctuaries[1] referred to as wildlife sanctuaries category IV protected areas. Among these, the 50 tiger reserves are governed by Project Tiger, and are of special significance in the conservation of the tiger. Some wildlife sanctuaries are specifically named bird sanctuary, e.g., Keoladeo National Park before attaining National Park status.

Many of them being referred as a particular animal such as Jawai leopard sanctuary in Rajasthan. [2]Many National Parks were initially wildlife sanctuaries.The conservative measures taken by the Indian Government for the conservation of Tigers was awarded by a 30% rise in the number of tigers in 2015.

National Parks

National parks in India are IUCN category II protected areas. India’s first national park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park, now known as Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand. By 1970, India only had five national parks. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard the habitats of conservation reliant species. Further federal legislation strengthening protections for wildlife was introduced in the 1980s. As of July 2015, there were 103 national parks encompassing an area of 40,500 km2 (15,600 sq mi), comprising 1.23% of India’s total surface area.

Similarities / Difference between a National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

National Park:

1  National parks are formed by Central or State Legislation.

  1. Status of National Park is higher.
  2. No human habitation is permitted in man area.
  3. Harvesting timbers, cultivation,collection of forest products are restricted. Eg.Corbet National Park.


  1. Sanctuaries are formed by the order of State or Central Government.
  2. Status of sanctuary is lower.
  3. Private ownership may be allowed.
  4. These activities are allowed with permission. Eg. Chilika-Nalaban Sanctuary for migrating birds.

Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves

Conservation reserves and community reserves in India are terms denoting protected areas of India which typically act as buffer zones to or connectors and migration corridors between established national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved and protected forests of India.

Tiger Reserves

Project Tiger was launched by the Government of India in the year 1973 to save the endangered species of tiger in the country.  Starting from nine (9) reserves in 1973-2016 the number is grown up to fifty (50).  A total area of 71027.10 km2 is covered by these project tiger areas.

Whose permission is needed to hunt a man-eater?

According to the NTCA’s 2013 SOP, such an “aberrant tiger” must be caught and “sent to the nearest recognised zoo and NOT released in the wild”. Conservation is about saving the species, not about the welfare of an individual animal.

Biosphere Reserves       

Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries and recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.The programme of Biosphere Reserve was initiated by UNESCO in 1971.

The purpose of the formation of the biosphere reserve is to conserve in situ all forms of life, along with its support system, in its totality, so that it could serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems.

The first biosphere reserve of the world was established in 1979, since then the network of biosphere reserves has increased to 631 in 119 countries across the world. Presently, there are 18 notified biosphere reserves in India.

Selection Criteria of Biosphere Reserves

  1. A site that must contain an effectively protected and minimally disturbed core area of value of nature conservation.
  2. The core area should be typical of a bio-geographical unit and large enough to sustain viable populations representing all trophic levels in the ecosystem.
  3. The management authority to ensure the involvement/cooperation of local communities to bring variety of knowledge and experiences to link biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development while managing and containing the conflicts.
  4. Areas potential for preservation of traditional tribal or rural modes of living for harmonious use of environment.

Legal Backing to Biosphere Reserves

A core zone being National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Whilst realizing that perturbation is an ingredient of ecosystem functioning, the core zone is to be kept free from l human pressures external to the system.

Financial Assistance

100% grant-in-aid is provided under the Biosphere Reserve scheme for the approved items of activities for implementation of Management Action Plans submitted by the concerned States/UT. The activities permitted under the scheme are broadly under the following areas:

  1. Value addition activities
  2. Sustainable use of threatened resources
  3. Rehabilitation of landscapes of threatened species and ecosystems
  4. Socio-economic upliftment of local communities
  5. Maintenance and protection of corridor areas
  6. Development of communication system and Networking

Development of Eco-tourism

BR scheme is different from other conservation related schemes. It has the focus on the welfare of local inhabitants through provision of supplementary and alternate livelihood support to the people in the buffer and transition zones in order to reduce biotic pressure on biodiversity of the natural reserves of core zone.

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