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Endangered Species Protection


Endangered Species Protection

13 Nov, 2023
Endangered Species Protection

India has taken various measures for endangered species protection, including the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, which prohibits hunting and poaching of endangered animals. Additionally, India has established protected areas like national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to conserve habitats. Conservation programs, strict law enforcement, and awareness initiatives also play a crucial role in endangered species protection in the country.

Growing concern has been witnessed over the rise in the number of globally threatened species. Many species are now in danger due to development projects and an increased reliance on forests for both habitation and sustenance.  More than 150 species in India are critically endangered and require immediate intervention to sustain their populations. Many plant species are extracted from forests in a destructive manner. Aside from anthropogenic threats, several species are under threat from invasive species and climate change. There has been a growing concern about the increasing number of species that are threatened globally. Developmental projects and increased dependence on forests both for sustenance and livelihood have rendered many species threatened. In the  Indian context, more than  150  species are critically endangered and require immediate intervention to sustain their populations. Many species are destructively extracted solely from the forests. Apart from anthropogenic threats, several species are threatened due to invasive species and climate change.

There is growing concern about the growing number of globally threatened species. Many species are threatened as a result of development projects and increased reliance on forests for sustenance and livelihood. More than 150 species in India are critically endangered and require immediate intervention to sustain their populations. A number of plant species are extracted from forests in a destructive manner. Aside from anthropogenic threats, several species face extinction as a result of invasive species and climate change.

Endangered Species

An endangered species is defined as a plant or animal that is thought to be on the verge of extinction. In 1973, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the ESA, the federal government is responsible for protecting endangered species (species that have a high probability of becoming extinct in all or a portion that is large of their range), threatened species (species that are likely to go extinct in the near future), and critical habitat (areas critical for the survival of endangered or threatened species).

The Endangered Species Act encourages the protection of plant and animal species both nationally and globally. A species is said to be “listed” when it receives ESA protection. Many more species are being evaluated for possible protection under the ESA and are referred to as “candidate” species. Some of the endangered species are Rhino, Amur Leopard, Gorilla, Sunda Tiger etc.

Measures Taken for Endangered Species Protection

To save wild animals in the country, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change has developed the third ‘National Wildlife Action Plan’ for the years 2017 to 2031. The Plan emphasizes a landscape approach to wildlife conservation, regardless of where it occurs. It also prioritizes the recovery of threatened wildlife species while conserving their habitats, which include terrestrial, inland aquatic, coastal, and marine ecosystems.

The following are the measures taken by the government to combat illegal killing and poaching of wild animals:

  1. The Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972 mentions punishment for violation of its provisions. The Act also talks about the forfeiture of any vehicle, equipment, or weapon that is used for committing wildlife offenses.
  2. Law enforcement authorities in the States have strict vigilance against poaching of wild animals.
  3. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau was formed for the collection of intelligence on poaching and illegal trade in wild animals and animal products, as well as to achieve inter-state and transboundary coordination in wildlife law enforcement.
  4. State/Union Territory governments have been asked to substantially increase field formations and intensify patrolling in and around Protected Areas.
  5. Protected Areas, Sanctuaries, National Parks, Conservation Reserves, and Community Reserves that cover important wildlife habitats have been made in the country as per the clauses of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, for the conservation of wild animals and their habitats.
  6. The Centrally Sponsored Schemes of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats,’ ‘Project Tiger,’ and ‘Project Elephant’ provide financial assistance to state/union territory governments for better wildlife protection and habitat improvement.

Causes of Endangered Wildlife Species

The following are the causes of endangered wildlife species:

Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

Rapid urbanization, agricultural expansion, and industrial development lead to loss and fragmentation of natural habitats. Deforestation for timber, agriculture, and infrastructure projects destroys the homes of many wildlife species.

Human Activities

Native species can be eliminated directly by human activities such as agricultural reduction, industrial development, and housing development. Human activities have significantly contributed to the endangerment of wildlife species in India. Deforestation, habitat destruction, and urbanization have led to the loss of natural habitats, forcing many species to the brink of extinction.

Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade

Poaching for body parts, skins, and organs for traditional medicine or the illegal pet trade remains a significant threat. India is home to species like tigers and elephants, which are targeted by poachers. Poaching and illegal wildlife trade are major contributors to the endangerment of wildlife species. These activities involve the illegal hunting, capturing, and trading of animals and their body parts. Many endangered species are targeted for their valuable parts, such as ivory, skins, and bones, driving them closer to extinction.

Climate Change

Changes in temperature and weather patterns affect wildlife habitats. Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events can lead to habitat loss, food scarcity, and altered migration routes.

Endangered Species Protection in India

Endangered species protection in India requires a comprehensive approach involving government initiatives, community involvement, and public awareness. Here are some key strategies for endangered species protection:

Habitat Conservation

Preserve and restore natural habitats through national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and protected areas. Implement sustainable forest management practices to maintain biodiversity. The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 provides legal safeguards for endangered species and their habitats by regulating hunting and trade. The Indian government and conservation organizations work on community-based conservation programs, promoting sustainable practices that benefit both local communities and wildlife.

Anti-Poaching Measures

Invest in training and equipping forest rangers and law enforcement agencies to combat poaching effectively. Use modern technology like drones and camera traps for surveillance.

Collaboration with NGOs

Partner with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international conservation agencies to leverage expertise, funding, and resources for conservation projects.  Some prominent NGOs involved in this cause include:

  • Wildlife Trust of India (WTI): WTI focuses on wildlife conservation and has various projects aimed at protecting endangered species across India.
  • Wildlife SOS: This organization is known for its efforts to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife, including endangered species like elephants, bears, and big cats.
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) India: WWF India works on diverse conservation projects, including initiatives related to endangered species and their habitats.

Policy Development

Development and implementation of policies that promote sustainable development while ensuring the protection of wildlife and their habitats. Encourage eco-friendly practices and discourage activities harmful to the environment.

India has implemented several policies and laws to address the conservation of endangered species:

  • Wildlife Protection Act (1972): This act serves as the primary legal framework for wildlife conservation in India. It prohibits hunting, poaching, and trade of endangered species, providing essential protection to wildlife.
  • Project Tiger: Launched in 1973, Project Tiger aims to protect the Bengal tiger and its habitats. It has been instrumental in the conservation of this endangered species.
  • Project Elephant: Started in 1992, this project focuses on elephant conservation, addressing issues like habitat protection and human-elephant conflict mitigation.
  • National Biodiversity Action Plan (2008): This plan outlines strategies and actions for biodiversity conservation, including efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats.

Conserving Endangered Species

Currently, a variety of ways are there to protect species, such as creating protected areas, reintroducing animals, captive breeding, putting conservation laws into effect, and educating the public. In addition to benefiting other related species, protected areas also effectively save species and their habitats. Both new and existing areas ought to be added to the list of areas designated for protection. Zoos and aquariums play a major role in conservation efforts by upholding captive populations. They coordinate breeding programs to maintain wholesome populations at various levels of cooperation. People can also help by donating to conservation organizations, cutting back on their carbon footprint, and choosing sustainable lifestyle options.

Evaluation Criteria for Endangered Species

As per National Wildlife Federation the following points must be considered when determining whether to include a species on the Endangered Species List or not:

  • Has a large segment of the essential habitat for this species been destroyed or severely damaged?
  • Has the species been over-consumed by scientific, commercial, recreational, or educational uses?
  • Is the species threatened by disease or predation?
  • Do the laws and regulations in place now provide enough protection for the species?
  • Are there any other man-made factors threatening the long-term survival of the species?

Regulatory Framework for Endangered Species Protection

There are certain Regulations made for Endangered Species Protection. Some of them are-

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

The Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972 establishes a legal framework for the conservation of various wild animals and plant species, managing their habitats, and regulation and controlling trade in plants and wild animals and products derived from them. The act also includes schedules of the plants and animals that are subject to different levels of government protection and oversight.

Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2022

  • The act amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972 by increasing the number of species protected under the law.
  • The Centre is to appoint a Chief Wild Life Warden who will process applications for captive breeding or artificial propagation of any scheduled specimen.
  • The Amended Act specifies prison terms and fines for violations of the Act’s provisions. These fines are increased by the Act. The act also strengthens the penalties for violating the Act’s provisions. The maximum fine for ‘general violations’ has been raised from Rs twenty-five thousand to Rs one lakh. The minimum fine for animals under special protection has been raised from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 25,000.

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention, was signed on March 3, 1973, in Washington, D.C., and went into effect on July 1, 1975.

CITES talks about how international trade in wild animals and plants is legal, sustainable, and traceable and does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild. It reflects all three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic, and ecological – and contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals through People, Planet, Prosperity, and Partnership.

 Department of Endangered Species Management

The Department of Endangered Species Management (ESM) works to conserve rare and endangered species in India through status surveys, research, monitoring, the development of conservation action plans, and advocacy as per Wildlife Institute of India.

Need for Endangered Species Protection

Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good, and there’s no turning back. The loss of even one species can have disastrous consequences for the rest of the ecosystem because the effects are felt throughout the food chain. The benefits of preservation of threatened and endangered species are invaluable, ranging from providing cures for deadly diseases to maintain natural ecosystems and improving overall quality of life.


India has made significant strides in protecting endangered species through legislation, protected areas, conservation efforts, and public awareness campaigns. The formation of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, in conjunction with the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, provides a strong foundation for preserving endangered species and their environments. Continued commitment to enforcing these laws, engaging in conservation initiatives, and raising awareness among the public are vital for ensuring the long-term survival of endangered species in India.


What is an endangered species?

An endangered species is one that is on the verge of becoming extinct due to factors such as habitat loss, pollution, climate change, or overexploitation.

Why is it important to protect endangered species?

Protecting endangered species helps maintain biodiversity, ensures ecosystem stability, and can provide potential benefits to humans, such as medicinal resources and ecosystem services.

What organizations are involved in endangered species protection?

For endangered species protection several organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and local wildlife agencies, work to protect endangered species globally.

How are endangered species protected legally?

For endangered species protection many countries have laws and regulations in place for the protection of endangered species. These laws often include restrictions on hunting, trade, and habitat destruction. International agreements like CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) also play a crucial role.

What is habitat conservation, and why is it essential for protecting endangered species?

Habitat conservation involves preserving natural environments where species live. It is vital because loss of habitat is a primary threat to many endangered species. Protecting habitats ensures these species have a place to thrive.

How do zoos and conservation programs help endangered species?

Zoos participate in captive breeding programs to conserve endangered species. These programs aim to increase the population of endangered species and, in some cases, reintroduce them into the wild.

What role do individuals play in protecting endangered species?

Individuals can contribute by supporting conservation organizations, promoting sustainable practices, and raising awareness about endangered species. Responsible consumption and reducing one’s ecological footprint also make a significant difference.

What are the challenges in endangered species protection?

There are certain challenges for endangered species protection that includes balancing economic development with conservation, combating illegal wildlife trade, addressing climate change, and ensuring international cooperation for effective conservation efforts.

How is the Indian government working to protect endangered species?

The Indian government has implemented various conservation programs and wildlife protection acts. National parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and efforts like Project Tiger and Project Elephant are some initiatives aimed at protecting endangered species.

Read our Article: Overview Of India’s Biodiversity And Climate Goals

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