On 21st December, 2011, an adult tiger was found dead at a place called Chekkadi in Tirunelli Village just two kilometers from the boundary of Wayanad Sanctuary in Kerala. The tiger was caught in a strong wire snare skillfully laid between two trees just beyond a thick hedge. Preliminary investigations by the Forest department have revealed that the land belongs to one Beerabahu a resident of Apparapara Village who is absconding. A case has been registered and investigations are underway.
Hunting of any wild animal listed in the four schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA) is unlawful, either within or outside a Sanctuary or National Park. The tiger is listed in Schedule I*. In this case, since the location where the tiger was hunted falls outside the Sanctuary, and all body parts (skin, claws, bones etc) were found intact, it does not attract other sections of the WLPA but amounts to a clear violation of Section 9 of the WLPA. The law empowers Forest officers to
- Arrest the accused person(s) under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 50
- Investigate under sub-section (8) of Section 50; and
- File a complaint before the Judicial Magistrate (First class) under Section 55 of the WLPA.
For an offence of hunting a wild animal listed in Schedule I or part II of Schedule II in any area including private land (as in the instant case) the punishment under Section 51 of the WLPA is imprisonment of not less than three years but extending to seven years and with fine of not less than Rs.10, 000.
* Read the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the four Schedules (as amended upto 1993) on the MOEF website.
The punishment for killing tiger of 3 to 7 years imprisonment and 10000 rupees fine seems to be too light and not enough of a deterrent. Who should someone contact to increase this to say 25 years and 1 crore fine? Is someone else putting in some effort to change this law?
Reply from Praveen Bhargav: Thanks for your question. In general, and particularly in wildlife offences, Courts have a tendency not to impose severe punishments/sentences. The proposed amendments to the Wildlife (Protection) Act will most probably contain an enhanced punishment and fine. This is yet to be finalized. However, merely increasing penalties will not deter poachers as much as strong enforcement and higher rates of conviction even with existing penalties.