What Does The Law Say About Wildlife Corridors?
With the rising need to build houses, humans are encroaching upon the habitat of animals. However, maintaining a synergy among various ecosystems is important and laws have been introduced to ensure this.
It is in this context that we would examine what wildlife corridors are and the laws that protect their existence in India.
What are wildlife corridors?
A wildlife corridor joins two or more larger areas of similar wildlife habitat. Critical for ecological process by allowing breeding of viable populations, including flora and fauna, they can be remnant habitat, regenerated habitat or artificially created habitat. Wildlife corridors play a crucial role in maintaining connections between animal and plant populations that would otherwise be isolated and at greater risk of extinction.
However, urbanisation, industrialisation, farming, wildlife trade and poaching have created tremendous stress on wildlife. In this regard, India has stringent laws to protect wildlife.
The key law
The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, is an umbrella Act to protect animals and plants in the country. The Act calls for prohibition of hunting, protection and management of wildlife habitats, regulation and control of trade in parts and products derived from wildlife and management of zoos. The Act also provides to preserve national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves, and conservation reserves.
- Under the law, no human activity is permitted in national parks and tiger reserves, except which is in the interest of wildlife conservation. The Act does not allow for any commercial exploitation of forest produce in both national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
- The Act criminalises hunting of wild mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, listed in its Schedules. If found guilty, the penalty for hunting is a jail term of up to seven years with a fine of at least Rs 10,000.
- The Act makes local communities party to the conservation process and they are allowed to use forest produces for their personal consumption.
- The law prohibits the destruction or diversion of wildlife and its habitat by any form.
- The Act also proposes to make wildlife corridors legal entities, on par with national parks or wildlife sanctuaries. It will help save such areas from the threat of mining, quarrying and grazing. Since land is a state subject, state governments decide on earmarking areas as national parks or wildlife corridors.
In recent years, there has been a clamouring demand for planning dispersal corridors for wildlife in India. Government agencies have augmented research efforts in identifying corridor opportunities for tiger and elephant conservation in the country.
Laws such as the Forest Conservation Act (1980), the Environment (Protection) Act (1986), the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) and the Biological Diversity Act (2002) also aim to protect wildlife in the country.