Wildlife conservation in India
Wildlife conservation indicates the practices of protecting wildlife and their habitats from encroachment or poaching in order to maintain a healthy wildlife species and its population. It also focuses on protecting or restoring the natural ecosystem. As the ever-growing population is already putting stress on the earth and its resources and it has been evidentially clear that we are on the verge on extinguishing our wildlife and environment.
More and more tropical forests and converted into farmland for cultivation to feed human mouths. Due to this the vast expanses of tropical forests and their inhabiting species have become increasingly threatened in the last few decades. Even in the oceans, fishing is so intensive that populations are diminishing alarmingly. We have become too efficient as predators.
Threats to wildlife in India
It decreases the number of places wildlife can live in. Deforestation, Urbanization and agriculture expansion are major cases of habitat destruction or fragmentation. Human cased habitat destruction leaves wildlife in smaller spaces and with less resources to depend upon which results in a decline in population and extinctions.
Overexploitation means harvesting of plants and animals at a much faster pace compared to species ability to recover. Overfishing is a prime example of overexploitation. Illegal trade of rare species cruel example that how certain species are now extinguished from the surface of the earth.
Killing and hunting animals for trade in illegal markets are referred to as Poaching. Elephants are poached for trunks, tigers for skins, rhinoceroses for their horns, etc.
Chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers have impacted wildlife immensely. There are real-life proven examples that how pollution can lead to a threat to wildlife. In India in just over a decade crore of vultures have died of Kidney failure due to feeding on dead cattle carcasses laced with Diclofenac an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat sick cows.
Wildlife conservation techniques used in India:
Studying the habits of wildlife species and their habitat ecologically is considered habitat management. It is one of the primary wildlife conservation techniques used in India. Gathering census and statistical data regarding species that need urgent attention for conservation. This allows framing guidelines and helps in planning in the protection, preservation, and improvement of habitats.
Establishment of protected areas:
Establishing protected areas like national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and zoological gardens helps conserve wildlife in its natural state and in its natural home. It provides scientific, educational, and recreational opportunities. It helps generate revenue to by attracting tourists which provide employment to the local population around national parks. In India at present there are 104 national parks, 566 wildlife sanctuaries constituted under Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
These are now spread over 28 states and 8 Union Territories. The total area covered by these protected places is approximately 1,71,921 km2 of the geographical area of the country which is approximately 5.03%. There has been tremendous progress between 1980 and 1985 when the number of National parks increased threefold. Still, these protected areas do not cover representative and viable samples of all significant bio-geographical subdivisions within the country, and also the quality of management is still to be improved.
Rehabilitation of endangered species:
Under this, it is proposed to rehabilitate some threatened species of animals as well as plants in some protected areas where it is found once time back or from where it got extinguished. Translocation of Great one-horned Rhinoceros from Assam to Dudhwa National Park is a great example of Rehabilitation. Back in 1957 on the recommendation of the Indian wildlife Board (IBWL), the second house of Gir Lion was established in Chandraprobha Sanctuary in southern Uttar Pradesh.
A lion and two lionesses were released in the sanctuary, which have increased to 11 by 1964. But due to the lack of proper monitoring by the State Forest Department all the animals either died or were killed by local people.
Captive breeding program:
Breeding certain species in captivity whose survival in the wild is severely threatened due to impaired natural breeding. The efficacy of a captive breeding program for saving gravely threatened species in wild can be judged by the success of the crocodile breeding project in India. Captive breeding also involves these animals should be trained to capture their own prey, defend themselves from predators and acclimatize to natural conditions before they may be rehabilitated in suitable areas.
Any conservation program, there is a great need of educating people to achieve their participation. Methods like celebration of wildlife week every year, publicity through media and film shows, holding conducted tours, essay competitions, lectures, seminars, setting up nature clubs in educational institutions, the establishment of natural history museums, etc. Zoological Survey of India also imparts training on wildlife conservation and environmental awareness to persons attached to nature clubs and educational institutions.
Promulgation of laws:
In India, legislative measures for the protection of wildlife have a long history. The first game laws were promulgated by “Kautilya” the famous teacher and adviser of Chandragupta Maurya. Next, another milestone law was framed under the guidance of Late Shri Indira Gandhi when the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was framed. Since then, many laws are framed for protection and as a measure of wildlife conservation.
India has been blessed with certain personalities who faced all difficulties during their time but never gave up on the conservation of Indian wildlife. Some of these pure souls are
- James Edward Corbett
- Billy Arjan Singh
- Frederick Walter Champion
- Indira Gandhi
- MK Ranjitsinh
- Kailash Sankhala
- Dr. Salim Ali
- A.A. Dunbar Brander
Top 5 conservation Projects for Wildlife in India
Project Snow Leopard:
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and IUCN declare the species as a ‘vulnerable’ category. Additionally, the species is listed in CITES and CMS which reveals that the highest conservation status has been accorded to them, both nationally and internationally. The species of Snow Leopard inhabits the Himalayan landscape as well as states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Himachal Pradesh. Project Snow Leopard launched in 2009, aims to promote inclusivity and a participatory approach to the conservation of the species.
The population of tigers was drastically declining towards the end 20th Century. A nationwide census was conducted in 1972 to estimate the population of tigers. In 1973, Project Tiger was launched in the Palamau Tiger Reserve, Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand. This is a centrally sponsored scheme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It is primarily governed under the Wildlife Act, of 1972 itself. The project is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, which was established in December 2005. The aim of the project is the protection of tigers from extinction, by ensuring that there is a viable population of the species in their natural habitats.
Project Elephant was launched in 1992 and is a centrally sponsored scheme. Elephants face the threat of attrition. The project aims at assisting the management and protection of elephants in the States which have free-ranging populations of wild elephants. India has over 27,000 elephants spread over 26 elephant reserves but only 65% of the elephant corridors are in protected areas.
In the 1970s, the Jammu and Kashmir Government in association with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) designed a project for the protection and conservation of the Kashmir Red Stag and its habitat. This project came to be known as Project Hangul. The project was started since Hanguls were enlisted in the critically endangered species list prepared by IUCN. The species is scattered through an area of 141 square kilometres in the Dachigam National Park.
Crocodile Conservation Project:
The species of crocodilians was threatened in India due to the increasing number of indiscriminate killings. They were poached for commercial purposes, which led to a drastic decline in their population. Apart from this, there was a loss of habitat due to the increasing development projects and industrialization. In this situation, Project Crocodile was introduced in 1975. The primary focus was on breeding and rearing in captivity. The initiative was taken by the Government of India in association with the Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Development Fund.
Wildlife conservation techniques and steps taken by the government has helped to put up a brave fight towards ever detreating habitat loss and threat to the populations of wildlife. It is us every human being needs to get aware of this that we must check pour actions before its too late. As Mahatma Gandhi once said is really true here “The Earth has enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed”