In Brief: Wildlife Crimes
- Section 2(37) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, defines ‘wildlife’ to include any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat.
- Wildlife crime can be defined as taking, possession, trade or movement, processing, consumption of wild animals and plants or their derivatives in contravention of any international, regional, or national legislation.
- Two major wildlife crimes include:
- Hunting & poaching
- Illegal trade
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has included wildlife crimes in the list of Transnational Organised Crimes (TOC).
- In India, The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, is the umbrella legislation for wildlife crime enforcement.
- India is a signatory to CITES which regulates international commercial wildlife trade. (CITES is a voluntary agreement)
Issues in Wildlife Crime in India
- Important provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 dealing with wildlife crimes include
- Chapter VI A – Illegal Trade
- Section 51 – Punishments for certain offences
- Section 39 – Wild life is government property
- The conviction rate of wildlife crimes in India is very low.
- The main reasons:
- Lack of uniformity among various states in wildlife crime investigation procedures
- The techniques used in wildlife crime investigation are obsolete.
- The most important challenge in wildlife crime investigation is ‘specimen identification’.
DNA Forensics in Wildlife Crime Investigation
- DNA fingerprinting as a tool for criminal investigation focuses on establishing blood relations, identifying criminal etc by matching DNA samples.
- However the use of DNA forensics in wildlife crimes is basically focused on establishing the identity of the species.
- Morphology-based investigations are not foolproof due to the time lag between occurrence and detection of wildlife crime.
- Thus molecular-level based DNA forensics will significantly improve wildlife crime investigation procedures in India
- The Zoological Survey of India is developing a protocol for use of DNA forensics in wildlife crime investigation.
- Besides we should also have a standard operating procedure in wildlife crime investigation to bring in uniformity among states.
DNA Profiling Bill was passed by Lok Sabha recently.
- To understand science of DNA forensics and compare DNA forensics in general and in wildlife crime, click here
Section : Science & Tech