Mumbai: Since the tiger is given the highest degree of protection under the law, one would think that the manufacture, sale, and possession of traps designed specifically to maim and kill them would be illegal. But shockingly, they are not.
The Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 is all but silent on the subject of animal traps.
At present, it is not illegal to manufacture, sell or possess a tiger trap; it is only an actionable offence if someone is found in possession of a trap in a protected area or a forest.
A steel spring trap is a heavy mechanical device which catches an animal by trapping its leg. The animal cannot pull its leg out of the trap since it is secured by a chain firmly into the ground. In the recent case near the Tadoba tiger reserve in Maharashtra, the young male tiger died in the leg trap. In other cases the poachers will return and beat the animal to death with wooden lathis.
Non-official members of the National Board for Wild Life have recommended a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of jaw traps, starting way back in 2008. This recommendation, along with a series of other proposed amendments to the Act appear to be in limbo, with little clarity on the Central Government's intention for the Bill or its final contents.