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Asiatic Wild Buffalo is reported to be the most impressive and magnificent animal in the world. Often it is found in the Western and Eastern Ghats of the country. Learned Amicus Curiae has moved this Court seeking a direction to the Union of India and the State of Chhattisgarh to prepare a rescue plan to save Wild Buffalo, an endangered specie from extinction and to make available necessary funds and resources required for the said purpose and also for a direction to take immediate steps to ensure that interbreeding between the wild and domestic buffalo does not take place and the genetic purity of the wild species is maintained. Direction was also sought for to prepare a scheme in consultation with the villagers for relocation of villagers from the Udanti Sanctuary to ensure the survival of the endangered wild buffalo. Direction was also sought for that all research and monitoring inputs including scientific management of the wild buffalo and its habitat be made available on long term basis by involving institutes such as the Wildlife Institute of India, the Bombay Natural History Society etc. =We are, therefore, inclined to dispose of this application with the direction to the State of Chhattisgarh to give effect fully the Centrally Sponsored Scheme – “the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats”, so as to save wild buffalo from extinction. The State also would take immediate steps to ensure that interbreeding between wild and domestic buffalos does not take place and genetic purity of the wild species is maintained. The State is also directed to take immediate steps to undertake intensive research and monitor the wild buffalo population in Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary and other areas, where the wild buffalo may still be found, including preparing them their genetic profile for future reference. The State is also directed to take appropriate steps to initiate wildlife training programmes for the officials of the State Forest Department, especially for managing the above sanctuary and other areas where the wild buffalos are found. The State is also directed to submit Annual Plan of Operations to the Central Government detailing the proposed course of action, if not already done, as per the “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats” scheme, within a period of three months from today. All effective steps should be taken by the State to protect the Asian wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), which is declared as a State animal by the State of Chattisgarh. 24. The applications are disposed of as above.

REPORTABLE

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IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

I. A. Nos. 1433 and 1477 of 2005

IN

WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 202 OF 1995

T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad                    .. Petitioner   (s)

Versus

Union of India & Others                        .. Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

K.S. Radhakrishnan, J.

Asiatic Wild Buffalo is reported to be the most impressive

and magnificent animal in the world.   Often it is found in the

Western and Eastern Ghats of the country.  Learned Amicus Curiae

has moved this Court seeking a direction to the Union of India

and the State of Chhattisgarh to prepare a rescue plan to save

Wild Buffalo,  an endangered specie from extinction and to make

available   necessary   funds   and   resources   required   for   the   said

purpose   and   also   for   a   direction   to   take   immediate   steps   to

ensure that interbreeding between the wild and domestic buffalo

does not take place and the genetic purity of the wild species

is maintained. Direction was also sought for to prepare a scheme

in  consultation  with  the  villagers  for  relocation  of  villagers

from   the   Udanti   Sanctuary   to   ensure   the   survival   of   the

endangered   wild   buffalo.       Direction   was   also   sought   for   that

all   research   and   monitoring   inputs   including   scientific

management of the wild buffalo and its habitat be made available

on long term basis by involving institutes such as the Wildlife

Institute of India, the Bombay Natural History Society etc.

2.    The   State   of   Chhattisgarh   filed   its   reply   affidavit     on

30.01.2006  explaining  the  steps  taken  to  conserve  and  preserve

the   endangered   species   which   was   declared   as   a   State   Animal.

Along with the affidavit, a comprehensive operational Management

Plan   for   Udanti   Wildlife   Sanctuary   was   also   enclosed   stating

that   the   execution   of   the   said   Management   Plan   had   suffered

setbacks due to acute financial shortage for its implementation.

Further,   it   was   stated   that   the   funds   allotted   under   Central

Assistance from the Government of India, Ministry of Environment

and   Forests   was   not   in   tune   with   the   budget   requirement   for

development   of   the   sanctuary   and   the   conservation   of   the

endangered species.   A chart showing shortfall in funds for the

development   of   the   sanctuary   has   also   been   annexed   with   the

affidavit,   so   also   a   table   showing   the   census   figures   of   wild

buffalos.  The reasons for the decline of the wild buffalos have

also been explained.  In order to overcome those hurdles, it was

stated that an MoU was entered into with the Wildlife Trust of

India   on   21.03.2005   which   included   special   efforts   for

maintaining the genetic purity of those species and for breeding

thereof.   Steps taken to relocate the villagers residing within

the sanctuary area has also been highlighted.

3.    This   Court   on   08.09.2006   passed   an   order   directing   the

Central   Empowered   Committee   (CEC)   to   conduct   an   enquiry   and

submit   a   report.   Affidavit   filed   by   the   State   was   also   placed

before   the   CEC   and     it   had   detailed   discussions   with   the

officials   of   the   State   of   Chhattisgarh   and   MoEF.     State   of

Chhattisgarh   constituted   a   task   force   by   its   order   dated

24.05.2007  for  suggesting  steps  and  formulating  an  action  plan

for the conservation and increasing the number of wild buffalos

in   the   State.     Proposal   made   by   the   Chief   Wildlife   Warden   to

replace the domestic buffalos reared by the villagers with cows

and bullocks it was stated, was also given active consideration.

CEC after consultation with the MoEF as well as the officials of

the State Government submitted its report on 10.09.2008.

4.    Steps   taken   by   the   State   of   Chhattisgarh   to   preserve   and

conserve the wild buffalo which was declared as a State Animal

is   far   from   satisfactory.   When   the   matter   came   up   for   final

hearing,   the   counsel   appearing   for   the   MoEF   made   available   a

copy   of   the   Centrally   Sponsored   Scheme   of   2009   (CSS)   titled

“Integrated  Development  of  Wildlife  Habitats”.    The  Scheme  was

formulated during the Eleventh Five Year Plan.   The Scheme has

also   incorporated   additional   components   and   activities   for

implementing   the   provisions   of   the   Wildlife   (Protection)   Act,

1972 [for short the Act], National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-

2016),   recommendations   of   the   Tiger   Task   Force,   2005,   and   the

National  Forest  Commission,  2006  and  the  necessities  felt  from

time to time for the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity

in the country.

5.    Before coming into force of the Act, the scheme which was

in force was “Assistance for the Development of National Parks

and Sanctuaries” which used to support only National Parks and

Wildlife  Sanctuaries.    However,  following  the  amendment  to  the

Act, in 2003, two more categories of Protected Areas (PAs) i.e.

the  Conservation   Reserves  and  Community   Reserves  have   been

recognized.   Conservation   Reserves,   which   are   government   land,

but do not require acquisition of rights, nor the curtailment of

activities   as   envisaged   in   National   Parks   and   Wildlife

Sanctuaries are stated to be the most appropriate strategy for

connecting   protected   areas,   by   providing   corridors.     Community

Reserves   are   entirely   based   on   efforts   of   the   local   people   on

privately   owned   lands   which   require   financial   and   technical

assistance   for   their   future   management.   The   Central   Government

before  the   Act  came   into  force   did  not   have  much   control  over

the States and the Union Territories for implementation of its

various schemes and the Parliament, in order to give effect to

Article   51A(g),   enacted   the   Act   for   the   protection   of   wild

animals, birds and plants and   for matters connected therewith,

with a view to ensure the ecological and environmental security

of   the   country.     Article   48A   of   the   Constitution   of   India

imposes   a   duty   on   the   State   to   protect   and   improve   the

environment   and   to   safeguard   the   forest   and   wildlife   of   the

country.

6.    Article 51A(g) states that it is the duty of every citizen

of   India   to   protect   and   improve   the   natural   environment

including   the   wildlife   and   to   have   compassion   for   the   living

creatures.     By   the   42nd  Amendment   Act   1976   of   the   Constitution

“Forests” was added as Entry 17A in the Concurrent List and the

“protection of wild animals and birds” was added as Entry 17B.

Consequently,   both   the   Central   and   State   Governments/UTs   are

mandated with the responsibility of protection and conservation

of wildlife and its habitat.   Chapter IV of the Act deals with

the   “protected   areas.”       Earlier     headings     `Sanctuaries’,

`National   Parks’   and   `Closed   Areas’,   was   substituted   by   the

words “protected areas” by Act 16 of 2003.     Section 18 of the

Act   empowers   the   State   Government   to   declare   its   intention   to

constitute   any   area   other   than   an   area   comprised   within   any

reserve   forest   or   the   territorial   waters   as   a   sanctuary   if   it

considers   that   such   area   is   of   adequate   ecological,   faunal,

floral,   geomorphological,   natural   or   zoological   significance,

for   the   purpose   of   protecting,   propagating   or   developing

wildlife   or   its   environment.    Chapter   IV   also   confers   various

other   powers   upon   the   State   Government   like   acquisition,

initiation   of   acquisition   proceedings,   declaration   of   areas   as

sanctuary, restriction on entry to the sanctuaries etc.   It is

unnecessary to refer to those provisions for the purpose of the

instant case.

7.    Section 36A of the Act empowers the State Government, after

consultations with the local communities, declare any area owned

by  the  Government,  particularly  the  areas  adjacent  to  National

Parks and sanctuaries and those areas which link one protected

area   with   another,   as   a  conservation   reserve  for   protecting

landscapes, seascapes, flora and fauna and their habitat.    The

Act also empowers the State Government, where the community or

an   individual   has   volunteered   to   conserve   wildlife   and   its

habitat,   declare   any   private   or   community   land   not   comprised

within a National Park, Sanctuary or a Conservation Reserve, as

a Community Reserve, for protecting fauna, flora and traditional

or cultural conservation values and practice.     The management

of   Community   Reserves   shall   primarily   be   done   by   the

communities/individuals   themselves.   The   Centrally   Sponsored

Scheme (CSS), therefore, intended to bring these two categories

of   PAs   also   under   the   ambit   of   the   Scheme   along   with   the

existing National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.

8.    The State of Forest Report 2005 states that the forest and

tree   cover   in   the   country   is   around   23.39%,   of   which   forests

constitute around  20.64%.   However, the PA network covers only

4.8%  of   the  geographical   area  of   the  country   with  most   of  the

PAs forming part of the forest area.     At present, India has a

network   of   99   National   Parks,   515   Wildlife   Sanctuaries,   43

Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves in different bio-

geographic   zones.  Protected   Areas,   i.e.   Conservation   Reserves

and   Community   Reserves   have   an   important   role   to   play   in

maintaining geographical integrity of the Nation.   Fact is that

many   important   habitats   still   exist   outside   those   areas   which

require   special   attention   from   the   point   of   view   of

conservation.   Habitat of Sandalwood, red sanders, white cedar,

rhododendrons,   Southern   Tropical   Montane   forests,   grasslands,

alpine meadows of Himalayan region, corridors connecting PAs and

crucial   wildlife   habitats,   deserts,   tropical   swamps,   rivers,

estuaries,   bamboo   and   reed   breaks,   mangroves,   coral   reefs,

deserts   etc.   are   examples   of   such   habitats   existing   outside

conventional PAs.   The tenurial status of such habitats ranges

from   government-controlled   Reserved   Forests   to   Protected

Forests, revenue forests, interspersed vegetation in plantation

sector,   revenue   lands,   village   forests,   private   forests,

religious forests, territorial waters, Community Conserved Areas

etc.   Such habitats also act as corridors for wildlife between

PAs thus ensuring connectivity in the landscape.

Human-wildlife conflict

9.     Human-wildlife conflict is fast becoming a critical threat

to the survival of many endangered species, like wild buffalo,

elephants, tiger, lion etc.  such conflicts affect not only its

population   but   also   has   broadened   environmental   impacts   on

ecosystem   equilibrium   and   biodiversity   conservation.     Laws   are

man-made,   hence   there   is   likelihood   of   anthropocentric   bias

towards   man,   and   rights   of   wild   animals   often   tend   to   be   of

secondary   importance   but   in   the   universe   man   and   animal   are

equally   placed,   but   human   rights   approach   to   environmental

protection   in   case   of   conflict,   is   often   based   on

anthropocentricity.

10.    Man-animal   conflict   often   results   not   because   animals

encroach   human   territories   but   vice-versa.     Often,   man   thinks

otherwise, because man’s thinking is rooted in anthropocentrism.

Remember,   we   are   talking   about   the   conflict   between   man   and

endangered   species,   endangered   not   because   of   natural   causes

alone but because man failed to preserve and protect them,  the

attitude was destructive, for pleasure and gain.   Often, it is

said   such   conflicts   is   due   human   population   growth,   land   use

transformation,   species   habitat   loss,   degradation   and

fragmentation,   increase   in   eco-tourism,   access   to   natural

reserves,   increase   in   livestock   population,   etc.     Proper

management   practices   have   to   be   accepted,   like   conservation

education   for   local   population,   resettlement   of   villages,

curbing   grazing   by   livestock   and   domestic   animals   in   forest,

etc.,   including   prey-preservation   for   the   wild   animals.

Provision   for   availability   of   natural   water,   less   or   no

disturbance from the tourists has to be assured.  State also has

to   take   steps   to   remove   encroachments   and,   if   necessary,   can

also  cancel  the  patta  already  granted  and  initiate  acquisition

proceedings to preserve and protect wildlife and its corridors.

Areas outside PAs is reported to have the maximum number of man-

animal   conflict,   they   fall   prey   to   poachers   easily,   and   often

invite   ire   of   the   cultivators   when   they   cause   damage   to   their

crops.  These issues have to be scientifically managed so as to

preserve  and  protect  the  endangered  species,  like  wild  buffalo

and other species included in Schedule 1 Part 1 of  the Wildlife

Protection Act, as well as other species which face extinction.

11.    Management   plan   for   Udanti   Wildlife   Sanctuary   (2002-2003,

2011-2012)  published  by  the  Forest  Department  of  Government  of

Chattisgarh,   paragraph   3.6.2   of   the   Report   reveals   much   more

than what meets the eyes which reads as follows:-

“Prior   to   declaration   as   sanctuary   this   area   was
part of East Raipur Division in which rules to regulate
illegal poaching and hunting existed.

Before   declaration   of   Govt.   forest   it   was   under
control of Bindrawagrah Zameendar.

In those days shooting was allowed after receiving a
fee  of  Rs.25/-  at  that  time.    Shooting  of  wild  buffalo
was   prohibited   after   Govt.   Notification   no.1905-1517-4
dt.   27.08.1935   but   in   this   zameendari   one   shooting
licence   holder   was   entitled   to   shoot   one   Bison,   one
Barasingha, Tow spotted deer and one Sambhar.  Game rules
of C.P. and Bear Game Act, 1935 and CP & Bear Bird game
1942 were existing in this are during past.

After   end   of   Zameendari   system   when   these   forest
became   Govt.   forest   rules   were   enforced   to   regulate
hunting vide notification no.788-2319 DT.19.8.53.

In   these   shooting   rules   of   1953   shooting   of   wild
Buffalo was allowed after formal permission of Govt. But
shooting of bison was prohibited.   In shooting rules of
1955 different fee was decided for hunting.  Shooting of
Bison, wild buffalo, Barasingha, Tiger, Sambhar, Leopard,
Sloth Bear and Cheetal were allowed.

These   hunting   rules   were   not   very   effective   for
regulation of shooting and hunting and therefore shooting
was stopped by Govt. of M.P. completely vide notification
no.   6036-10(2)-71   dt.   Govt.   of   India   in   this   regard
started 11.11.1971.  Effective steps after enforcement of
wildlife protection act 1972.”

12.     Paragraph   3.6.3.2   deals   with   encroachment     and   other

illegal activity, which reads as follows :-

Encroachment and other Illegal activity

In UWLS encroachment for land hunger is not common
practice.   Sometime due to lack of clearcut demarcation
live   or   boundaries,   cases   of   encroachment   have   been
observed.     Therefore,   village   boundary   should   be
development   of   villages   and   for   the   betterment   of
villagers in the revenue villages inside and around the
sanctuary.        These   department   are   revenue,   ICDS,
Veterinary   Health   Services,   Medical   Department,   State
Electricity   Board   etc.,   semi   Govt.   village   institutions
like   village   and   Janpad   Panchayat   are   also   working   for
development activities.

More   development   activity   causes   more   interference
in forest and the privacy of wild life.  These ultimately
cause conflict with wildlife.

Conflict with wildlife to the abnormal behaviour of
wild   animals   like   aggressiveness   of   monkey,   cattle
lifting by carnivore, injury by bears during Mahua season
etc.

Development of people is always welcome but not in
the cost of negative ecological in the ecosystem.

13.     Report   clearly   states   that   development   activities   causes

more interference in forest and also the privacy of wildlife and

these   ultimately   cause   conflict   with   wildlife.   Man-animal

conflict   often   takes   place   when   wild   animals   cause   damage   to

agricultural   crop   and   property,   killing   of   livestock   and   human

beings.     Human   population   growth,   land   use   transformation,

species   loss   of   habitat,   eco-tourism,   too   much   access   to

reserves, increase in livestock population bordering the forest,

depletion of natural prey base etc., often stated to be reasons

for such conflict.  Central Govt. the State Governments, and the

Union   Territories   should   evolve   better   preservation   strategies,

in consultation with Wildlife Boards so that such conflicts can

be avoided to a large extent.   Participation of people who are

staying in the Community Reserves is also of extreme importance.

The   necessity   of   implementing   proper   management   measures   for

preserving the wild buffalo has also been elaborately stated in

the Report.

14.     Environmental   justice   could   be   achieved   only   if   we   drift

away from the principle of anthropocentric to ecocentric.   Many

of   our   principles   like   sustainable   development,   polluter-pays

principle,   inter-generational   equity   have   their   roots   in

anthropocentric   principles.     Anthropocentrism   is   always   human

interest   focussed   and   non-human   has   only   instrumental   value   to

humans.     In   other   words,   humans   take   precedence   and   human

responsibilities   to   non-human   based   benefits   to   humans.

Ecocentrism is nature centred where humans are part of nature and

non-human has intrinsic value.  In other words, human interest do

not take automatic precedence and humans have obligations to non-

humans independently of human interest.  Ecocentrism is therefore

life-centred, nature-centred where nature include both human and

non-humans.     National   Wildlife   Action   Plan   2002-2012   and

centrally   sponsored   scheme   (Integrated   Development   of   Wildlife

Habitats) is centred on the principle of ecocentrism.

15.    The National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) is intended to

provide   adequate   protection   to   wildlife   in   multiple   use   areas

such   as   Government   forests   outside   PAs,   various   Community

Conserved   Areas   like   sacred   groves,   community   and   panchayat

forests, identified private forests such as interspersed forests

in   tea,   coffee   and   cardamom   gardens   and   other   protection

landscapes,   farm   lands,   wastelands,   wetlands,   coastal   habitats,

heronries, wintering wetlands of birds, catchment forests, turtle

nesting sites, pastures for livestock and wild herbivore, deserve

ecosystems etc.

Recovery Programmes

16.    The   Centrally   Sponsored   Scheme   also   deals   with   Recovery

programmes for saving critically endangered species and habitats.

It was noticed that, due to variety of reasons, several species

and   their   habitats   have   become   critically   endangered.

Consequently,   the   scheme   intends   to   extend   support   to   such

recovery programmes for saving critically endangered species and

their habitat based on the requirement felt from time to time.

The   objective   of   this   recovery   plan   of   saving   critically

endangered   species/ecosystems   cannot   be   covered   under   the

components   of   Conservation   of   PAs   and   protection   of   wildlife

outside   PAs   as   disjunct   population   across   a   wider

landscape/seascape.   Several   programmes   are   proposed   under   the

recovery plan, of which one is to save the critically endangered

species of Asian Wild Buffalo and grasslands and riverine forests

of central and north India.   Several other components were also

included in the recovery plan such as Dolphin and River Systems,

Nilgiri Tahr, Asiatic Lion etc.   The scheme envisages that the

Director,   Wildlife   Preservation,   Government   of   India,   in

consultation with the Wildlife Institute of India or the relevant

scientific   institute/organization   and   with   the   approval   of   the

Standing   Committee   of   the   National   Board   for   Wildlife   can

initiate   other   recovery   programmes   or   wind   up   the   ongoing

programme.       The   Director,   Wildlife   Preservation,   is   also

authorised   to   undertake   assessment   of   the   effectiveness   of   any

`recovery programme’ already undertaken or being undertaken.  The

Integrated   Development   of   Wildlife   Habitats   scheme   specifically

highlighted the necessity to preserve and conserve the habitat of

wild buffalo.  The scheme states as follows:

“Wild buffalo is one of the worst affected mammalian
species   in   the   recent   times.     Domestication   of   the
species   and   continuous   interbreeding   with   domestic
buffalo   has   led   to   inbreeding,   genetic   disorders,
competition   and   mortality   due   to   disease.     Apart   from
this,   habitat   fragmentation,   degradation,   and   poaching
are   the   main   threats   to   the   conservation   of   this
globally   threatened   species.     Urgent   and   concerted
efforts   are   needed   to   recover   this   species   from   the
brink of extinction.”

17.      Conservation and Management of Wildlife, as per the Act,

is   primarily   vested   in   the   States   /   UTs   who   are   in   physical

possession   of   the   area.     It   was   noticed   that   many   States/UTs

have set up various regular wildlife wings within the States/UT

Forest   Departments   and   implemented   a   scheme   as   to   be   done   in

accordance with a work programme covering the 11th  Plan period.

The   Centrally   Sponsored   Scheme,   therefore,   envisages   that   the

State/UTs   are   required   to   submit   Annual   Plan   of   Operations

(APOs)  to the  Central Government  detailing the  proposed course

of   action,   which   consists   of   management   planning   and   capacity

building,   anti-poaching   and   infrastructure   development,

restoration of habitats, eco-development and community oriented

activities   etc.   so   as   to   qualify   for   the   financial   assistance

under   the   scheme.       The   concerned   State/UTs   have   to   follow

certain conditions which have been enumerated in the scheme.

18.    The State of Chhattisgarh, in the instant case, has pointed

out that they could not effectively give effect to some of the

programmes for preservation and conservation of wild buffalo due

to lack of funds.  The scheme envisages 100% assistance.   It is

relevant to extract the Pattern of Funding and the same reads as

follows:

Pattern of Funding

7         Under   the   Scheme,   100%   assistance   is   provided
for   non-recurring   items   of   expenditure   for
National         Parks,          Wildlife               Sanctuaries,
Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves.

7         50%   cost   of   recurring   expenditure   is   provided
for   National   Parks,   Wildlife   Sanctuaries,
Conservation   Reserves   and   Community   Reserves
where   the   State   Government   provides   for   the
balance 50% as the matching share.

7         National         Parks,          Wildlife               Sanctuaries,
Conservation Reserves and community Reserves in
mountain   regions,   coastal   zones,   deserts,   or
those   areas   which   support   highly   endangered
species   i.e.   Snow   Leopard,   Red   Panda,   Rhino,
Sangai   Deer,   Phayre’s   leaf   monkey,   Musk   Deer,
Hangul,   Great   Indian   Bustard,   Great   Indian
Hornbill, Siberian Crane, Chinkara, Chowsingha,
Black Buck, Marine Turtles, Nilgiri Tahr, Lion
Tailed  Macaque, Bustards,  Floricans, Pelicans,
Gyps   Vultures,   Wild   Ass,   Grizzled   Giant
Squirrel,   Clouded   Leopard,                Wild   Buffalo,
Hoolock  Gibbon  and  Lion  are  eligible  for  100%
central assistance for both recurring and non-
recurring items of expenditure.

7         In   the   case   National   Parks,   Wildlife
Sanctuaries,   Conservation   Reservation   and
Community   Reserves   falling   in   the   high
mountainous,   snow   clad   regions   (where   working
season   is   limited   to   a   few   months)   in   the
States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh,
Uttarakhand and Sikkim, the central assistance
shall   be   given   in   one   instalment.     For   other
States,   the   approved   allocation   shall   be
released in two instalments (80 per cent as 1st
instalment and balance as 2nd instalment.)

7         Similarly,            subject          to              site-specific
adjustments,   as   a   guiding   principle,   a
40:40:20: proportion of financial sharing shall
be  ensured  between  Centre,  State  as  owners  of
the   privately   held   land,   when   such   areas   are
involved in the case of Community Reserves.

19.    State of Chattisgarh has maintained the stand that they do

not   have   sufficient   funds   to   undertake   various   programmes   for

protection   of   wild   buffalo   within   the   national   parks,

sanctuaries   and   also   at   conservation   reserves   and   community

reserves.     This   stand   cannot   be   countenanced   now,   especially

after the introduction of the Scheme.

20.    Wild buffalo has been included as Item No. 41, Part I of

Schedule I of the Act.   Once it is included in Schedule I, the

State Board for Wildlife has to advise the State Government in

the   selection   and   management   of   the   areas   to   be   declared   as

protected areas, in the formulation of policy for protection and

conservation of the wildlife etc., as per Section 8 of the Act.

Section 9 of the Act states that no person shall hunt any wild

animal specified in Schedule I to IV, except as provided under

Sections 11 and 12.

21.    The   International   Union   for   Conservation   of   Nature   (IUCN)

has   calculated   the   percentage   of   endangered   species   as   40%   of

all organisms.   IUCN Red List refers to specific categories of

endangered   species   and   includes   critically   endangered   species.

IUCN   Red   List   of   Threatened   Species   uses   the   term   endangered

species as a specific category of imperilment, rather than as a

general   term.     Under   the   IUCN   Categories   and   Criteria,

endangered   species   is   between   critically   endangered   and

vulnerable.   Wild water buffalo is included in the category of

endangered species.     Apart from the human-animal conflict, the

most important threat to wild buffalo is inbreeding with feral

and   domestic   buffalo,   habitat   loss/degradation   and   hunting.

Diseases   and   parasites   (transmitted   by   domestic   livestock)   and

competition for food and water between wild buffalo and domestic

stock  are   also  serious   threats.    Habitat  loss   is  also   a  major

concern   for   species   endangerment.       When   wild   buffalos’   eco-

system is not maintained, they lose their home and either forced

to adopt new surroundings or human habitat.   Eminent ecologists

have   proposed   biological   corridors,   biosphere   reserves,

ecosystem management and eco-regional planning as approaches to

integrate   biodiversity   conservation   and   socio-economic

development at increasingly larger spatial scales.

22.    We   have   seen   the   subjects   `forest’   and   `protection   of

animals   and   birds’   are   in   the   concurrent   list   of   the

Constitution and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen of

India   under   Article   51A(g)   of   the   Constitution   to   protect   and

improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers

and wildlife.  It is to achieve the above objective and also to

give   effect   to   the   purpose   of   the   object   of   the   Act   that   the

Central Government has sponsored “the Integrated Development of

Wildlife  Habitats”.     As   per  the   Scheme  and   the  Act,   the  State

Government   is   empowered   to   notify   conservation   reserves   and

community   reserves   for   protecting   the   landscape,   seascapes,

flora  and   fauna  and   their  habitat.     The   Act  also   empowers  the

State Government to declare any private and community land not

comprised within the national parks, sanctuaries or conservation

reserves  or  community  reserves  for  protecting  fauna,  flora  and

traditional or cultural conservation values and practice.

23.    We are, therefore, inclined to dispose of this application

with the direction to the State of Chhattisgarh to give effect

fully   the   Centrally   Sponsored   Scheme   –   “the   Integrated

Development   of   Wildlife   Habitats”,   so   as   to   save   wild   buffalo

from extinction.   The State also would take immediate steps to

ensure   that   interbreeding   between   wild   and   domestic   buffalos

does  not   take  place   and  genetic   purity  of   the  wild   species  is

maintained.   The State is also directed to take immediate steps

to   undertake   intensive   research   and   monitor   the   wild   buffalo

population  in  Udanti  Wildlife  Sanctuary  and  other  areas,  where

the   wild   buffalo   may   still   be   found,   including   preparing   them

their genetic profile for future reference.   The State is also

directed to take appropriate steps to initiate wildlife training

programmes   for   the   officials   of   the   State   Forest   Department,

especially   for   managing   the   above   sanctuary   and   other   areas

where the wild buffalos are found.   The State is also directed

to   submit   Annual   Plan   of   Operations   to   the   Central   Government

detailing the proposed course of action, if not already done, as

per   the   “Integrated   Development   of   Wildlife   Habitats”   scheme,

within a period of three months from today.  All effective steps

should be taken by the State to protect the Asian wild buffalo

(Bubalus   bubalis),   which   is   declared   as   a   State   animal   by   the

State of Chattisgarh.

24.    The applications are disposed of as above.

………………………………..J.
(K.S. Radhakrishnan)

…………………………………J.
(Chandramauli Kr. Prasad)
New Delhi,
February 13, 2012

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