The WILDLIFE PROTECTION SOCIETY OF INDIA (WPSI) was established in 1994. The Founder and Executive Director is Belinda Wright, the renowned tiger conservationist and wildlife campaigner, who has spent over thirty-five years working on wildlife issues in India. From its inception, the Society's primary aim has been to bring a new focus to tackling India's growing wildlife crisis.
WPSI does this by providing support and information to government authorities to combat poaching and the escalating illegal wildlife trade - particularly in wild tigers. The tenacious efforts of the WPSI team have resulted in the arrest of hundreds of wildlife criminals throughout the subcontinent and in the development of important new conservation strategies.
Over the years WPSI has broadened its focus to cover human-animal conflict involving tigers, leopards and elephants. The Society also supports conservation projects throughout the country on subjects as varied as elephant corridors, and a campaign to save the olive ridley sea turtle off the coast of Orissa. Site-specific projects include assistance in Sundarban, Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh, Tadoba, Corbett, and Satkosia Gorge Tiger Reserves.
A comprehensive database on wildlife crime, started by WPSI in 1995, plays an important role in revealing the extent of poaching and trade in India of endangered species, such as the tiger, elephant, rhino, musk deer and bear. The database presently holds records of more than 16,500 wildlife cases, along with the details of 12,900 wildlife criminals.
In collaboration with state government authorities, WPSI has hosted nearly 190 wildlife law enforcement workshops throughout India and provided training to around 7,800 forest, police and customs officers in 17 states. Under its Legal Programme, WPSI supports the prosecution of cases related to tiger poaching and trade and other endangered species, and cases on important conservation issues, including encroachment of protected areas.
In 2005, WPSI and the UK-based Environmental Protection Agency (EIA) traveled to China to investigate the illegal cross-border trade in the Tibet in tiger, leopard and otter skins. Their detailed exposé of a hitherto unknown scale of trade in Asian big cat skins received widespread international coverage. A joint team returned to Tibet in 2006 and 2007. They found that the skin trade had greatly reduced in Tibet, but continues unabated in other areas of China.
WPSI's publications include a book that covers all wildlife-related laws in India and a handbook titled “Wildlife Crime; An Enforcement Guide” (published in English and Hindi). The books have been distributed throughout India to enforcement authorities, state high courts, district courts, judges and lawyers. In 1997 a WPSI report, “Fashioned for Extinction; An Exposé of the Shahtoosh Trade”, exposed the workings of the shahtoosh trade and its links with the trade in tiger parts.
WPSI is a Member of the National Board for Wildlife (chaired by the Prime Minister), and the State Wildlife Advisory Boards of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. The Society is also a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Species Survival Network (SSN), and the Global Tiger Forum. The Executive Director is a member of the State Government of Rajasthan’s Steering Committee on Forestry and Wildlife Management, the State Government of Uttar Pradesh’s Tiger Conservation Society, and an Honorary Wildlife Warden of NCT Delhi. WPSI’s collaborative programmes include the Indian Cranes and Wetlands Working Group (ICWWG), which is run in collaboration with the International Crane Foundation.
In addition to its projects and activities, WPSI is actively involved in every major wildlife conservation issue in India and has been in the forefront of media campaigns to highlight the importance of wildlife protection. WPSI also constantly liaises with policy makers and international conservation agencies, particularly on issues concerning poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife products.
WPSI is a registered, non-profit charity and one of the most respected and effective wildlife conservation organizations in India. The Society’s conservation activities are funded by a number of national and international foundations, organisations and individual donors.