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The conservation of wildlife in its habitat has assumed greater importance because of COVID-19. Studies indicate that 60% of Emerging Infectious Diseases (COVID-19, HIV, Ebola) affecting humans are zoonotic, with approximately 72% of them originating in wildlife. And Territorial Forests (TFs) are crucial to wildlife conservation.

Despite their ecological importance, TFs remain neglected under India’s patchwork of laws. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (WPA) has limited applicability to TFs. Wildlife habitats within TFs are not strongly protected.

Vidhi’s briefing book for 2020, ‘Towards a Post-COVID India: 25 Governance Challenges and Legal Reforms‘ proposes the creation of a National Wildlife Protection Authority to protect scheduled wildlife species, their habitats, and to manage human-wildlife interaction both inside & outside Protected Areas.

A panel discussion was held on ‘Creating a National Wildlife Protection Authority’ on July 22, 2020. Panelists were: Dr Faiyaz Khudsar, Scientist-in-Charge, Yamuna Biodiversity Park, and Debadityo Sinha, Senior Resident Fellow, Vidhi. The discussion was moderated by Shyama Kuriakose, Senior Resident Fellow, Vidhi.