The Indian Subcontinent has always been home to several flora and fauna species over time. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the country is home to 91,000 animal species and 45,000 plant species, accounting
for 7-8% of all recorded species of the world.
Out of these, 683 animal species are found to be in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable categories, according to a 2018 report by the Hindustan Times.
The number has seen a spike from 646 animal species in 2014 and 413 animal species in 2009 in the respective categories. On the other hand, 6147 plant species are either endangered or critically endangered.
Given such a vast diversity of species and an increasing number of endangered species, it comes down upon the Indian citizens and the Indian government to take responsibility for, and protect and conserve such rich wildlife.
But are the Indians aware of these facts? And if they are, how are they contributing towards the betterment of the situation?
Laws to Protect the Endangered Species
Since India’s independence, there have been many rules, regulations, and articles incorporated in the Indian Constitution to protect and conserve the wildlife diversity of
It is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India to protect wildlife and have compassion for all living beings under Article 51-A (g) of the Constitution of India,1950. Article 48A determines the duty of the state to protect, safeguard, and improve the forests and wildlife of the country.
But a major step was taken towards protecting the endangered species of the country by introducing The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Under the act, laws were made stricter to protect wildlife.
The act extended to the whole of India. Different schedules were incorporated which categorized the various species and their protection measures.
Moreover, punishments for committing an offense were made stricter with the offender not only being penalized with huge amounts but also being sentenced to imprisonment if the offense was highly severe, which was not the case before.
Are Laws Enough to conserve the endangered Species?
Despite the existing laws, there have been several incidents where the endangered species were mistreated, harassed, and even killed in some instances.
In recent times, we read the horrifying news of an elephant being fed with fruits filled with firecrackers in the southern state of Kerala. The elephant was pregnant and suffered for four days before she succumbed to the injuries caused by the explosion in her mouth.
This is just one of the many cases that depict the cruelty of humans against these mute, innocent creatures. Again, there are only a few that surface and reach the public. There are several other such horrifying stories of harassment and assault against wildlife that go unnoticed/unspoken.
These incidents go ahead to prove only one point. No matter how many laws exist in the Constitution of India, until the citizens are not individually invested in the process, not much can be done by the laws alone.
A Citizen’s Responsibility in Conservation.
With such a megadiversity of wildlife in the country comes the responsibility to protect and preserve it, especially when it is endangered and some of them, on the verge of extinction. As we saw earlier, despite laws existing in the country, not much can be done without the direct involvement of the citizens.
Thus, some ways through which we, the citizens, can contribute towards saving wildlife, and thus, preserve our ecosystem are:
- Taking up responsibility for wildlife in and around our neighbourhood. If every individual starts protecting and preserving the flora and fauna in and around their locality, the country, as a whole, will progress towards maintaining a better ecosystem.
2. Spreading awareness about the diversity of wildlife in the country. This way, they will be proud of the ecosystem they live in and will thrive to conserve it.
3. Starting small wildlife-conservation organizations within communities/neighbourhoods. Yes, there are various organizations set up by the Government of India for the same. But if organizations are close to the neighbourhood, where you see your friends and family involved, you get more invested in the organization as well. Thus, leading to a sense of belongingness and reaching the ultimate goal to protect wildlife.
4. Develop compassion towards these innocent creatures and work towards protecting them from the cruelty of other humans. Help your fellow citizens develop compassion for these creatures as well to save them from getting endangered.
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The Authorities In protecting the wildlife
Citizens play a major role in the protection of endangered species but without the government taking appropriate measures from time-to-time against offender amending the laws to make it relevant to society, and executing those laws strictly, the efforts put in by citizens won’t turn out fruitful.
Thus, the government needs to ensure that the laws made not only exist on paper but get implemented strictly. Moreover, there needs to be a system in place where defaulters get punished appropriately and justice is served.
The citizens need to be made aware of their rights to file PILs and/or arrest an offender and hand them over to the authorities for further proceedings.
The Indian subcontinent is a hotspot for wildlife and diversity. It is home to several flora and fauna species.
Thus, protecting and conserving this heritage is an integral part of the country. Laws do play a major role in achieving the same but unless every individual does not take up the responsibility of protecting wildlife, it is difficult to achieve the goal.
If the citizens, or even the government, are invested only in their personal growth, without bothering about the effects of their actions on the environment and the ecosystem, the goal would be difficult to achieve.
Finally, it is the combined effort of each individual of the country that will help in protecting the endangered species, not just the existing laws.