The relation between man & nature
is well described by
William Wordsworth in his poem Written in Early Spring
when he wrote, to her
fair works did Nature link, the human soul that through me ran
At Present, Man is demolishing nature, Environment and
Wildlife. We all know that wildlife and wild animals are an essential part of
nature. Growth of industries, urbanization, Technological excellence, and
economical gains had led to the depletion of natural resources, irreversibly.
This is mainly because of a lack of concern lack of public awareness and
foresightedness, and indifferent attitude towards the grave consequence of the
destruction of wildlife. Large scale killing of wildlife and loss of vegetal
cover has resulted in a decline of environmental quality.
Concept of Wildlife Crime
The word Wildlife means the native wild fauna and flora of a region. According
to Section 2(37) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, “wildlife” includes
any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat.
Wildlife crime can be defined as taking, trade, processing, movement,
possession, or consumption of wild animals and plants or their derivatives in
infringement of any international, national or regional legislation.
Administrating cruelty to a wild animal and the victimization of wild animals,
both free-living and captive creatures adjoin this definition. As illegal
wildlife trade is also known as a serious economic offense because it involves
immense amounts of money, Hunting and illegal trade are known as a major
wildlife offense. All other offenses come under ancillary offenses like
preparation, possession, transportation, processing, etc
Types Of Wildlife Crimes
In India, during the early ages, men used hunting as a way
of survival. Perhaps such hunting was sustainable when forest cover was vast,
the human population was low and wildlife existed in high density. Hunting was
more for subsistence and not for commercial interest.
Various forms of wildlife are hunted for valuables such as
charms, diablerie, souvenirs for many cultural values, superstition beliefs. The
common belief of eastern cultural traits view apex predators as a sign of power
and believed to possess magical powers and healing abilities, these views
provide the demand in the international market for the products like Ivory,
skins, bones, and horns of these Charismatic Animals. Hunting defined under
section 2(16) of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972
Chief Forest Conservator (Wild Life) vs. Nisar Khan
Poaching is referred to as illegal hunting, killing or
capturing wild animals. Since the 1980s, the term "poaching" has also been used
to refer to the illegal harvesting of wild plant species. Animal poaching exists
for their body parts or skin as long as humans wanted them. In other words, this
market, which is based on the demand for goods, has existed for a long time.
The only exception will be when a wild animal becomes
dangerous to human life or property. Although morally speaking; Hunting,
capture, and immediate killing of animals only in case of self-defense or when
it becomes dangerous to human life or property. In any other situation killing
animals should be considered illegal because it is humans themselves who have
decreased wildlife around the world.
Ivory Traders and Manufacturers Association Vs Union of India
- Illegal Traders
Illegal wildlife trade gives a huge amount of profit to the
traders with low risk and low penalties. In western culture, look at these
animals as exotic, the sign of Prosperity and Craze for ornaments made of
animals body parts such as (skin, claws, ivory, tiger teeth/bones), are used
extensively in the fashion industry as well as collectibles which fuel the
international trade of wildlife hunting machinery.
Indian Handicrafts Emporium and Ors.vs. UOI and Ors. (2003) 7 SCC 589 –Supreme
Factor affecting Wildlife Crime
Wildlife had been affected by various persons who are involving as:
- Professionals: Proachers, Middleman, Transporter, Smuggler,
Pharmacies, and other end-user linked with bigger mafia groups.
- Opportunists: Small-time criminals attracted by high profits, low risk,
helpers at the scene of the crime.
- Little investigated group: Parthies, Bagadaies, Tibetians
settlement Tibetian medicines
- Politicians:Political asylum
Need for Protection of Wildlife
- For conservation of natural habitat
- For agriculture and farming
- For their medicinal values
- For a healthy eco-system
- For a healthy environment
- For preserving rich bio-diversity
- For recreation
- For economic value
- For livelihood of individuals
- For aesthetical value
- For socio-cultural value
Protection for Wildlife
The Wildlife Act 1972 provides protection of birds, plants, wild animals and
aquatic animals guaranteed the ecological and environmental protection of the
Laws for Protecting Wildlife
The Acts which have an important bearing on wildlife enforcement in India
- First Indian Forest Act, 1865
- Madras Wild Elephant Preservation Act,1873: This was the first wildlife
legislation in Modern India.
- Elephant Preservation Act ,1879
- The Indian Forest Law Act VII, 1878
- The Indian Forest Act, 1927 : This act has been amended by various
states and it will be useful to look at respective state amendments
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act,1960
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- The Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 : An Act to provide for the
protection and improvement of environment and other connected matters
- Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 with Amendments Made in 1988
- Article 48A & 51A (g) of the Indian Constitution related to the
protection and improvement of Wildlife.
- Biological Diversity Act,2002
- Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2006
- The Criminal Procedure Code, 1974
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860:Section 428 and Section 429 read that
killing, poaching, maiming, poisoning, or torturing an animal is a
cognizable offense and immediately FIR must be lodged in the area police
station. The punishment for such an act is rigorous imprisonment which may
extend to five years or fine or both.
- The Arms Act, 1959
- The Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 :India does not
have CITES specific legislation, as of now. At present, all Export and
Import, including that of (wildlife CITES Listed Species), is regulated
under the EXIM Policy formulated under this act.
- The Customs Act, 1962 :Violation of customs regulations in export and
import are punishable under this Act.
- The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, as amended in 2009 Hunting
of wild animals is an offense under this Act.
Agencies involved in tackling Wildlife Crime
Establishment of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau:
A Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has been set up by the Ministry. Under
the provisions of Environment and Forests, Government of India, Chapter IV-C as
amended in 2006, sections 38Y and Z of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It
is being seen as a major opportunity to address the issues of illicit trade in
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau Organization Structure:
Who can go to Court?
As per the provisions of Sec. 55 of the WLPA1972, the following persons can
file a complaint under this act:
Collection of Intelligence
- Director of Wildlife Preservation or any other officer authorized on
this behalf by the Central Government
- Member Secretary, Central Zoo Authority in matters of violation of
- Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority
- Director of concerned Tiger Reserve
- Chief Wildlife Warden or any other officer authorized on this behalf by
the state government, subject to conditions as specified by the state
- Officer in charge of a zoo for violations of Sec 38-J
- Any person who has given a notice of 60 days in the prescribed manner of
the alleged offense and of his intention to make a complaint to the central
government or state government or the authorized officer.
Intelligence information is collected to forecast, analyze, and
publicize, prevent, or monitor criminal activities. From sporadic incidents of
poaching (mainly for meat), wildlife crimes have now increased to organized
criminal activities with international criminality. The collection of
intelligence about such organized criminal networks, and their activities, and
the aggregation of such information on a real-time basis require time to
effectively deal with wildlife crimes
WCCB Bureau Headquarters, New Delhi or its regional offices at Delhi, Mumbai,
Chennai, Kolkata, and Jabalpur.
Registration of Cases
In traditional offenses, the investigation of the case in the
form of First Information Report (FIR) begins. However, in wildlife crime,
seizure of wildlife/wildlife articles or apprehension of accused or suspect
before registration of the case.
In wildlife offenses, the investigation can begin with an arrest/seizure by an
authorized officer, recording a threat/crime report or seizure. In various
states the report is known by various names like seizure intensity preliminary
report (POR), crime report, first information report (FIR), H-2 case, etc.
The first report submitted to a judicial court in wildlife crime cases can be
called the Wildlife Crime Report (WLOR). Wildlife crime report should be
prepared under section 50 (4) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Search and Seizure
Search and seizure should be done as per the provisions of
Section 50 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Although the Wildlife
(Protection) Act, 1972 gives the authorized officer the power to enter, search,
arrest, and detention but the procedure prescribed under section 100 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC), such as discovery in the presence of two
independent witnesses. To conduct, prepare a list of things seized during the
search, conduct search of female occupants using female officers, handover of
the seer of the overwritten search list, etc., must be strictly followed.
The arrest of the accused is an integral part of the investigation into wildlife
crimes. Forest officers and police officers, not below the rank of
sub-inspector, are the most vulnerable and detained inspector under sections 50
(1) (c) and 50 (3) of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
Writing the Wildlife Offence Report
- Wild life offense report is to be filed before the magistrate within a
24 hours of arrest of the accused
- In case of absconding accused, efforts made to find the accused must be
- WLOR should be preferably typed, or should be neatly handwritten
without any over writings or alterations
- Should be specific and without any ambiguity
- Name of the species, Schedule, quantum of punishment prescribed, whether
accused is a first time or a repeat offender should be mentioned.
- Officer filing the complaint should sign all pages of the WLOR.
- WLOR must have a prayer seeking judicial custody of the accused and
permission to send seized evidence for forensic examination.
Investigation and Complaint
Who can investigate a wildlife offense?
Wildlife Protection Act 1972, under Sec 50, (8) provides for special powers that
are not below the rank of Asstt. Director of Wildlife Preservation and Asstt.
Conservator of Forests For an investigation of offenses under this Act. It just
means that the concerned authorities have additional powers for investigation
and It is not that they are the only officers to conduct such an investigation.
The Hon. Supreme Court of India, in CBI v/s Motilal (2001) has held that the
Police and the CBI can also investigate wildlife offenses.
Compounding of offenses
Section 54 of the Wildlife Protection (Protection) Act 1972 does not give the
Director of Wildlife Protection or any other officer below the rank of Assistant
Director of Wildlife Conservation notified by the Central Government and the
Chief Wildlife Warden or any other officer.
The post of the sub-forest guardian
for confessing from any person against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that
he has committed an offense against the act, by paying the amount of money by
way of compounding of the offense to such person Is suspected The sum of money
accepted or accepted as composition shall not, in any case, exceed twenty-five
thousand rupees. Upon payment of such funds to the authorized officer, the
suspect, if in custody, will be discharged and no further proceedings will be
taken against him in connection with the offense.
Prosecution of Cases in Courts
Under Section 55 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, cases are filed in
accordance with the provisions of sections 244 to 248 of the Code of Criminal
Each court should have a forest officer to follow the prosecution in the cases
under trial, execution of procedures, ensuring the presence of witnesses and
briefing them before evidence, in progress through an immediate superior to
judicial ACF / DCF Should present daily court diary. Hearing of cases listed in
court on that day, the presence and performance of prosecution witnesses and
public prosecutors, the next date of hearing, and any other observation of their
relevance during the trial proceedings.
Writing the complaint
- Complaint is to be filed within the 60 days of arrest of the first
accused in case of judicial custody of the accused.
- should be preferably typed, or should be neatly handwritten without any
over writings or alterations
- Should be specific and without any ambiguity.
- Should be in plain language and narrated sequentially.
- Name of the species, Schedule, quantum of punishment prescribed whether
accused is a first time or a repeat offender should be mentioned.
- Authorized officer filing the complaint should sign all pages of the WLOR.
- Complaint must have a prayer seeking imprisonment and / or fine
Role of Supervisory Officers
Supervisory officers are required to personally supervise the investigation and
travel to the crime scene as far as possible. DFO / DCF should keep a running
notebook of reported wildlife offenses under their jurisdiction, wherein they
should file a summary of the WL OR and the main points of subsequent
investigations on a regular basis.
When a final order is made by the trial court in a wildlife crime case, a copy
of the judgment should be obtained and analyzed by the concerned DCF / ACF and
sent to the next higher formats with his comments and sentencing. In this case,
there should be sufficient punishment. Given. In the case of acquittal, DCF will
have to comment and send it to the legal cell if there is scope for appeal.
Other Important Judgments in Wildlife Crime CasesMotilal vs. CBI and Ors.
(2002) 4 SCC 713 - Supreme Court.
Offence made under Sections 50, 51,54 and 55 of WPA, Section 4 (42) of Cr.P.C.
Offence, punishable under the Act can be Investigated by CBI. WPA is not a
complete code in itself
Indian Handicrafts Emporium and Ors.vs. UOI and Ors. (2003) 7 SCC 589 - Supreme
Offence made under Article 14, 19 (1) (g) & 19 (1) 6 of COI, Sections 39,4,49-C,
of WPA Total prohibition on trade in ivory under the WPA held to be reasonable.
Trade that are dangerous to the ecology may be regulated or totally prohibited
and therefore regulation includes prohibition. Traders are a class by
themselves. In absence of such criminal trial and offence having been found
committed, Section 39 may not have any application. In that view of the matter
it is evident that the properties do not stand vested in the Government in terms
there for. The purport and object of the Act must be given its full effect
State of M.P.vs. Madhukar Rao,
JT 2008 (1) SC364 Supreme Court
Offence made under Section 39 Any attempt to operationalize Section 39(1)(d) of
the Act merely on the basis of seizure and accusation/allegations levelled by
the departmental authorities would bring it into conflict with the
constitutional provisions and would render it unconstitutional and invalid.
Sansar Chand vs. State of Rajasthan
(2010) 10 SCC 604 - Supreme Court
Offence made under Articles 21, 48-A and 51-A(g) of the Constitution of India,
Sections 9,49-,50 and 51 of the WPA Ecological chain and balance - Importance of
wildlife conservation for the society. Directions issued by Supreme Court to
Central and State Governments and their agencies to make efforts to preserve
India's Wildlife and take stringent action against those violating provisions of Wildlife(Protection) Act. Extra-judicial confession in this case was
corroborated by other material on record. Hence, conviction is sustained
Shashi Singh vs. State of Haryana
,2006 (3) RCR (Criminal) 624 - High
Court of Punjab & Haryana
Offence made under Sections 9,39,50 ,57 of WPA Taking the life of a
defenceless animal, on the verge of extinction, hunting of which is specifically
prohibited by Section 9 read with Schedule I of the Act, committed by the
petitioners, so grave and heinous as to dissuade extending the anticipatory bail
The judiciary plays an active role in giving decisions in favor of wildlife
preservation. Now the courts are also participating in wildlife protection by
giving appropriate sentencing and deterrent sentencing in wildlife crimes. Most
importantly let us all resolve that we should end the relative neglect of
wildlife conservation in recent years. Wildlife conservation is too important a
task to be treated lightly or ritualistically.