Zoological Parks – A Centre for Wildlife Conservation

Zoological Parks - A Centre for Wildlife Conservation

I remember, during my childhood, I love to visit two places quite often, Circus and Zoological parks or zoos. These two places were my first introduction to wildlife. At Circus, I always wait for the Lion and Tiger Show. Though later when I realized showing animals in circuses is a cruel practice I stopped going there and even thanks to our strict wildlife laws the government itself banned the wild animal show in Circus. But I still love visiting zoos because that is the only way to get close to wild animals. When I grow up and started reading about zoos I started thinking that zoos are no less than a lifetime imprisonment for the animals. After my studies, I joined the Wildlife Institute of India in a research project where I learned that zoos or zoological parks are actually important centers for wildlife conservation.

Ex-Situ & In-situ conservation are two important verticals where In-Situ means the conservation of wildlife in their natural habitats like National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuary through various measures like wildlife protection and habitat management etc. Ex situ conservation is the technique of conservation of all levels of biological diversity outside their natural habitats through different techniques like zoos, captive breeding, aquarium, botanical garden, and gene bank.

 

bengal tiger in wild

 

Zoological parks are the centers of conservation breeding for many endangered species of animals. According to the Central Zoo Authority (a governing & advisory body of zoos in India) “The Conservation Breeding Programme is a science of conserving a species by preventing imminent population collapse in the wild due to a large number of eliminative pressures (i.e., habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, industrialization, poaching, illegal trade, and climate change, etc.). The aim of the Conservation Breeding Programme is to conserve the genetic diversity of the species and restock or reintroduce the species to re-establish a self-sustaining population in its natural wild habitat.”

 

rhino in zoological park

 

The coordinating zoos for these conservation breeding programs are located in or next to the landscape where these species belong while participating zoos are selected on the basis depending upon the facilities and expertise they have for the successful breeding of the species and can be located anywhere. In India, almost all zoological parks are participants in the conservation breeding programmes of one or more species. Bigger zoos like National Zoological Park in Delhi are participating in the conservation breeding of five species. In coordinating zoos there is an off-display conservation breeding facility either in the zoo compound or as a satellite facility.

 

tiger in delhi zoological park

 

In India the conservation breeding of endangered species is a joint venture of both in-situ and ex-situ managers. The protected area managers or chief wildlife warden are asked to identify species for immediate attention. There is a regular exchange programme conducted between participating and coordinating zoos to maintain healthy gene flow and to avoid inbreeding. Studbooks of all the animals in conservation breeding programs are also prepared to trace back the genetic relationship between individuals. The target of this programme is to have at least 250 properly bred and physically, genetically and behaviourally healthy individuals in the world of which at least 100 in India.

The zoological parks create an enclosure that resembles the natural habitat of the target species. This will help them to adapt to their environment easily when released. There are many zoos in India and worldwide who has achieved remarkable success in the conservation breeding of many critically endangered species.

Apart from conservation breeding, zoological parks also play a major role in conservation education and research. The research on various species in captivity helps to develop proper planning for their conservation in wild. This is even more important for the species which is secretive in nature and difficult to observe in the wild. The draft of Project Tiger was developed by personal observation of Mr. Kailash Sankhala, the first director of the project director at the National Zoological Park. The zoos are the green lung of cities and offer a variety of ecosystem services. According to a recent study by The Energy and Resource Institute in Collaboration with Central Zoo Authority, National Zoological Park extends ecosystem services worth around 422.79 Crores annually.

Also Read : Wildlife conservation techniques used in India

 

back bucks in zoological park

 

In a time of urbanization, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity zoological parks are the most easiest places to get a common man exposed to the wonderful natural wealth of our country and the world.

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