Protection of Endangered Species in India

India is a bio diverse country, In sense of its flora and fauna. With nearly 6.5% of the world’s known wildlife species. Approximately, 7.6% of the world’s mammals and 12.6% of the world’s birds are found in India

Red List of Threatened Species.

 The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps a,It is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species. Open to all, it is used by governmental bodies, non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals.

Currently, there are more than 150,300 species on The IUCN Red List, with more than 42,100 species threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 37% of sharks and rays, 36% of reef building corals, 34% of conifers, 27% of mammals and 13% of birds.

The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria are intended to be an easily and widely understood system for classifying species at high risk of global extinction. It divides species into nine categories: Not EvaluatedData DeficientLeast ConcernNear ThreatenedVulnerableEndangeredCritically EndangeredExtinct in the Wild and Extinct.

The IUCN Red List will be next updated with thousands of new species assessments and reassessments on 20 July and 7 December in 2023.[1]

As per the report given by the international union for conservation of nature (IUCN) red list in 2022, 15 species of birds, 10 species of mammals, 5 species of reptiles, and 5 species of fish have been found endangered on the list.

Following are the reasons why wildlife species get endangered:

  1. Reasons for loss of Habitat
  1. It can happen naturally like in case of dinosaurs.
  2. Human activities like development for housing, industries, agricultural reduce can eliminate native species directly.
  3. People also kill wild animals throw pesticides, hunting, collision with cars.

It can lead to increase in encounters between wild life and humans, growth of poisonous plants near the residency and school.

2. Reasons for loss of genetic variation

Genetic variation is the diversity found within a species. It’s why human beings may have blond, red, brown, or black hair. Genetic variation allows species to adapt to changes in the environment. Usually, the greater the population of a species, the greater its genetic variation.

  1. It can occur naturally like Cheetahs are a threatened species native to Africa and Asia. Biologists say that during the last ice age, cheetahs went through a long period of inbreeding. As a result, there are very few genetic differences between cheetahs. They cannot adapt to changes in the environment as quickly as other animals, and fewer cheetahs survive to maturity. Cheetahs are also much more difficult to breed in captivity than other big cats, such as lions.
  2. Human activity can also lead to a loss of genetic variation. Over-hunting and overfishing have reduced the populations of many species. Reduced population can lead to two mature members of the species that are not closely related and can produce healthy offspring. With fewer breeding pairs, genetic variation shrinks.
  3. Monoculture,it is a method of growing single crop, this can also reduce genetic variation. Modern agribusiness relies on it.
  4. The climate change is also threatening wild varieties. That means domesticated plants may lose an important source of traits that help them overcome new threats.

The IUCN Green Status of Species

The IUCN Green Status of Species complements the Red List by providing a tool for assessing the recovery of species’ populations and measuring their conservation success. In 2020, Green Status of Species assessments became an optional part of Red List assessments.

Definition of ‘Recovery’ given by Green Status of Species.        

The Green Status assesses species against three essential facets of recovery :

  1. A species is fully recovered if it is present in all parts of its range, even those that are no longer occupied but were occupied prior to major human impacts/disruption; AND

2. It is viable (i.e., not threatened with extinction) in all parts of the range; AND

3. It is performing its ecological functions in all parts of the range.

These factors contribute towards a “Green Score” ranging from 0–100%, which shows how far a species is from its “fully recovered” state.

This definition of recovery is ambitious by design. It is not expected, nor is it a goal that all species will eventually fulfil this definition of full recovery; for many species, large areas of range have been irreversibly converted for human uses. Instead, this definition serves as a way to standardize the assessment approach between species, and to identify areas of opportunity in the context of what has been lost. It is important to note that any species can be assessed using the Green Status method, including species that have been very negatively impacted by humans and species that are not considered to have been impacted much at all.[2]

Measuring Conservation’s Impact

Green Scores can be calculated at different points in time (scenarios) to show the current status, how conservation actions have affected that current status, what we might expect if conservation actions were halted, and how a species’ status might be improved in the future with conservation action. This is reflected in a set of metrics which are based on differences in Green Scores calculated for different times and scenarios.

  1. Conservation Legacy captures the impact that past conservation interventions have had on maintaining or achieving current species status, ranging from high legacy (conservation actions have greatly improved species status) to low legacy (actions have been ineffective or have not been attempted).
  2. Conservation Dependence captures what is expected to happen over the next ten years if current conservation actions were to cease, ranging from high dependence (species status would quickly deteriorate in the absence of continued action) to low dependence (species status would not change if conservation action was halted).

Recovery is measured in the short- and long-term. Conservation Gain captures the change in status expected to occur within the next ten years resulting from planned conservation actions. Recovery Potential represents the ‘reach goal’: given the state of the world today, across what proportion of historical range could we expect to be able to restore functional populations? For example, the Tiger’s (Panthers Tigris) historic range overlaps with present-day Jakarta; it would be impossible to restore tigers to this part of their historic range.[3]

Acts and Organizations formed by International Organization

The over exploitation of many vulnerable species led to the result of unregulated international trade, governments adopted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973. The treaty entered into force in 1975 and now has 183 Parties.  The Convention places a joint responsibility on producer and consumer Parties for managing wildlife trade sustainably and preventing illegal trade. It also  regulates international trade in over 36,000 species of plants and animals.

International trade in wildlife and plants is worth billions of dollars annually and includes hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live plants and animals to a vast array of products derived from them, including foods, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios, and medicines. The extensive international trade of some plants and animals, together with factors like habitat loss, threatens to deplete some to the point of near extinction.

Species protected under CITES are placed on one of three lists (appendices) depending on the degree that international trade threatens their existence:

  • Appendix I – includes species that are threatened with extinction and CITES generally prohibits commercial international trade in these species. However, trade may be allowed under exceptional circumstances, e.g. for scientific research. In these cases, trade may be authorized if permits are obtained from both the exporting and importing countries.
  • Appendix II – includes species that are not threatened presently with extinction but may become so unless trade is closely controlled. International trade in Appendix-II species requires a permit from the exporting country; no import permit is necessary for these species. Permits are only granted if the exporting country is satisfied that certain conditions are met; above all, that trade will not be detrimental to the species’ survival in the wild.
  • Appendix III – includes species that a country already regulates and the country needs the cooperation of others to prevent unsustainable or illegal exploitation. International trade in Appendix-III species requires a permit from the exporting country.
  • To protect the threatened species, lead has been taken by raising awareness of the surge in illegal trade in wildlife and in taking a coordinated approach to the fight against illegal wildlife trade, including though the establishment of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), a collaborative effort of five inter-governmental organizations (CITES, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization) working to bring coordinated support to the national wildlife law enforcement agencies and to the sub-regional and regional networks that, on a daily basis, act in defence of natural resources.
  • Examples of plants protected from international trade under CITES include orchids, cacti, pitcher plants, some cycads and palms, ginseng, goldenseal, and some tropical timber trees. Some of these plants grow on national forests and grasslands where they are managed to ensure their perpetuation as viable populations and, where possible, for sustainable commercial use.

Regulatory act to protect Endangered species in United States.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the public became increasingly concerned about the decline of various plants and animals due to human exploitation and/or habitat destruction. Prior acts of Congress had protected some wildlife, but the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was the first Federal legislation to protect endangered plants. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was given the principal responsibility for carrying out the mandates of the Act. The entire Act can be found at the Fish and Wildlife Service website [4].

India’s international obligations

India has obligations under a large number of treaties and agreements having a bearing on the environment. Mention may be made of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora 1973, the Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer 1985, the Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer 1987, the Convention on the Control of the Trans boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal 1989, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992 and the Convention on Biological Diversity 1992 etc.

Article 253 of the constitution empowers Parliament to make laws implementing India’s international obligations as well as any decision made at an international conference, association or other body. Entry 13 of the union list covers ‘participation in international conferences, associations and other bodies and implementing of decisions made there at.’ Parliament has used its power under article 253 read with entry 13 of the union list to enact the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 and the Environment (Protection) Act 1986. The preamble of both these Acts state that these acts were passed to implement the decisions reached at the UN Conference on Human Environment held at Stockholm in 1972.[5]

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change ( MoEFCC)

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is an Indian government ministry. This ministry is headed by Secretary Rank senior most IAS officer. The ministry portfolio is currently held by Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

It is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of India’s environmental and forestry policies and programmes.

The Ministry also serves as the nodal agency in the country for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and for the follow-up of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The Ministry is also entrusted with issues relating to multilateral bodies such as the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and of regional bodies like Economic and Social Council for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) and South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) on matters pertaining to the environment.

The broad objectives of the Ministry are:

  • Conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests and wildlife
  • Prevention and control of pollution
  • Afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas
  • Protection of the environment and
  • Ensuring the welfare of animals

These objectives are well supported by a set of legislative and regulatory measures, aimed at the preservation, conservation and protection of the environment.[6] 


With the development of the country simultaneously led to exploit of bountiful wilderness areas with the richness of species at wide range and, now they are highly eroded and fragmented. This led to the establishment of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 1982, is an internationally acclaimed Institution, which offers training program, academic courses and advisory in wildlife research and management. The Institute is actively engaged in research across the breadth of the country on biodiversity related issues.

The Institute’s idyllic campus that has been carefully developed to create state of the art infrastructure encourages scholarly work.

Endangered Species Management

The Department of Endangered Species Management (ESM) has the mandate to work for the conservation of rare and endangered species of India through status surveys, research, monitoring, development of conservation action plans and advocacy.

It also makes substantial contributions to the regular teaching, training and research activities of WII. The conservation projects include research on olive Ridley turtles; monitoring endangered carnivores, mountain ungulates and pheasants in the Himalaya; assessment of the impacts of the tsunami on the Nicobar megapode; development of a conservation action plan for the hangul or Kashmir stag; carrying out status surveys of the Indian peafowl, Himalayan brown bear and Asiatic black bear; and listing of species in the IUCN red lists and reviewing the listing in the schedules of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act.

Currently, the faculty members of the department are involved in many research projects dealing with the ecology and monitoring of endangered species in a wide range of study areas from the high Himalaya to the coasts and islands and the southern Indian Ocean and Antarctica. A few projects also involve working with managers and local indigenous communities to resolve human–wildlife interface issues.[7]


In several environmental cases, the courts have been guided by the language of the article 48. An instance is the case of M.C. Mehta v Union of India. In several environmental cases, the courts have been guided by the language of the article 48 A. An instance is the case of M .C. Mehta v Union of India.

In the case of Ganesh Wood Products , the Supreme Court held the following: “A Government Department’s approval to establish forest based industry to be invalid because it is contrary to public interest involved in preserving forest wealth, maintenance of environment and ecology and considerations of sustainable growth and inter generational equity. After all, the present generation has no right to deplete all the existing forests and leave nothing for the next and future generations.” Similarly in the Vellore’s citizens Forum case 19, the concept of sustainable development was ruled by the Supreme Court: “The traditional concept that development and ecology are opposed to each other is no longer acceptable. ” Sustainable development is the answer.” The Supreme Court has held in the Bichhricase20 that ‘the polluter pays principle’ is a sound principle. Indian environmental policy and laws have thus to be in tune with the international commitments. This may require structural changes in environmental policies and Laws of India.[8] 

Ministry of environment , forest and climate change

Protection of endangered species

Census of major flagship species is undertaken at the State-level by the respective State/Union Territory Governments periodically. However census of tiger and elephant is undertaken at the national level once every four and five years respectively. As per the report of the latest census carried out by the state and central government, the population of endangered species especially lions, rhinos, tigers, and elephants has increased in country.

Ministry is providing financial assistance to State /UT Governments for the recovery programme of  critically endangered species under the component- Recovery programme for  saving of critically endangered species and habitats   of  the Centrally sponsored scheme ‘Development of Wildlife Habitats’. Presently 21 critically endangered species have been identified under this programme.

The Ministry has formulated the 3rd ‘National Wildlife Action Plan’ for a period of 2017 to 2031 to save wild animals in the country. The Plan focuses landscape approach in conservation of all wildlife irrespective of where they occur.  It also gives special emphasis to recovery of threatened species of wildlife while conserving their habitats which includes terrestrial, inland aquatic, coastal and marine ecosystems.

The measures taken by the Government to control illegal killing and poaching of wild animals are:

  1. The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for punishment for violation of its provisions. The Act also provides for forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon that is used for committing wildlife offence(s).
  2. Law enforcement authorities in the States maintain strict vigil against poaching of wild animals.
  3. Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up to gather intelligence about poaching and unlawful trade in wild animals and animal articles and to achieve inter-state and trans-boundary coordination in enforcement of wildlife laws.
  4. The State/Union Territory Governments have been requested to strengthen the field formations and intensify patrolling in and around Protected Areas.
  5. Protected Areas, viz., National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves covering important wildlife habitats have been created all over the country under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to conserve wild animals and their habitats.
  6. Financial assistance is provided to the State/Union Territory Governments under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’, for providing better protection to wildlife and improvement of habitat.

This information was provided by Minister of State, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Babul Supriyo in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on 25th November 2019.[9]

Punishment under the legal provisions and actions taken by government in protection of the threatened wildlife 

            The Government has taken several steps for protection of endangered species of wild animals in the country, which are as following:-  

  1.   Legal protection has been provided to wild animals against hunting and commercial exploitation under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  2.  The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 has been amended and made more stringent. The punishment for offenses under the Act have been enhanced. The Act also provides for forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon that is used for committing wildlife offence(s).
  3. Protected Areas, viz., National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves covering important wildlife habitats have been created all over the country under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to conserve wild animals and their habitats.
  4. Financial and technical assistance is provided to the State/ Union Territory Governments under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’ for providing better protection to wildlife, and improvement of its habitat.
  5. v. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders.
  6. The State/Union Territory Governments have been requested to strengthen the field formations and intensify patrolling in and around the Protected Areas.
  7. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up to strengthen the enforcement of law for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products.
  8. Viii. Strict vigil is maintained by the officials of State Departments of Forests and Wildlife.

            The periodic assessments carried out in respect of prioritized species, rhinoceros and lion, have indicated improvement in their population status.

            The Ministry of Environment & Forests also provides financial assistance to State Governments for undertaking “Recovery Programmes for saving critically endangered species” as a component of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’. Budget is not allocated separately for this component. At present, sixteen species have been prioritized for taking up such recovery programmes which include Snow Leopard, Bustards (including Floricans), River Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugongs and coral reefs, Edible-nest Swift lets, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered deer, Vultures, Malabar civet, the great one-horned rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp deer and Jerdon’s Courser.

            Under the component “Recovery Programmes for Saving Critically Endangered Species” of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats” (CSS-IDWH)  financial assistance has been provided for eight critically endangered species including Snow Leopard, Hangul, Dugongs, Edible-nest Swiftlets, Asian Wild Buffalo, Manipur Brow-antlered deer, Vultures and Asiatic Lion as per the proposals received from various State/Union Territory Governments.  The details of financial assistance released to the State/Union Territory Governments for undertaking Recovery Programmes for saving critically endangered species under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats” during the last three years are as follows:

YearAmount released (Rs. in lakhs)


Bill passed by Rajya sabha in protection of endangered species.

The Bill, which was cleared by the Lok Sabha on August 2 during the monsoon session, was introduced by Environment and Forest Minister Bhupender Yadav on Tuesday.

THE WILD Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022, which seeks to strengthen the protection of endangered species and enhance punishment for illegal wildlife trade, was passed in the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote.[11]


After independence, India went throw the process of globalization and development which led the establishment of factories and industries which were constructed near areas of forests. Because of which a large amount of trees were chopped and area was cleared. This led to the deterioration of the native species and eventually they became extinct. After the international conference at Stockholm in 1972, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 and the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 were passed. The main purpose of both the acts was to implement the decisions reached at the UN Conference on Human Environment held. Furthure, many steps were taken to implement them. At present The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021, which had undergone scrutiny of a parliamentary panel, seeks to conserve and protect wildlife through better management of protected areas and rationalise schedules which list out species under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. It proposes to rationalise and amend the schedules, which list out wildlife species, for the purposes of clarity, and ensure better care of seized live animals and disposal of seized wildlife parts and products.












Author: Aditi Brahmankar

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