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Wildlife Conservation in India

“Only when the last of the animal’s horns, tusks, skin and bones have been sold, will mankind realize that money can never buy back our wildlife.”
~ Paul Oxton

Living beings are interdependent for their survival. This means, we should always stand to support our fellow beings for their existence. But are we really doing it? Let’s think again. No matter, how much we talk about environment protection, planting trees, and the like; our efforts will be in vain if we don’t take wildlife conservation seriously. A huge chunk of our livelihood and reasons for survival come from wildlife and their natural habitat. Unfortunately, we are fast losing our wildlife cover that needs conservation.

We usually relate wildlife conservation with endangered species. The reasons include climate changes, pollution, and some unlawful activities. Conservation is to stop wastage of a resource. So, wildlife conservation is to protect wild species and their natural habitats.

For instance, water pollution is a threat to marine life. Change in water temperature causes reefs to lose their color and coral colonies. Captivation of elephants and their tusks’ for unlawful trade is another problem.

To know more about the importance of wildlife for our lives, let’s scroll down.

Why is Wildlife Conservation Important?

We know how important it is to maintain environment wholesomeness for our existence. The major causes of biodiversity loss and forests’ degradation include logging, poaching, and agricultural and urban expansion.

Some of the animal species have reached near extinction during the last four decades. The alarming fact is that almost 10,000 species are lost every year! Simply put, this is the loss of half of the wildlife populace of the world. Our efforts for conservation in this direction can reap fruits that will beneficiate the generations to come.

So, conservation of wildlife is important for a number of reasons, which are:

Ecosystem Balance

All animals are important for the eco system. When populace of an animal species reduces, another species is threatened. This interrupts the natural food chain and eventually the eco system.

Protection of Ecological Stability

If wildlife and natural habitats are not conserved, there will be droughts because of water supply destruction. Furthermore, human activities like deforestation and logging negatively affect the environment.

With conservation of flora and fauna, the ecological stability is encouraged. For instance, plants balance oxygen and carbon dioxide in the environment. Thereby, are important for a healthy ecosystem.

Enhance Food, Water, and Air Security

Wildlife conservation enhances food security for human beings. It also helps in research for promoting agricultural diversity. Protection of natural habitats from degradation and forests against deforestation, rises food availability.

It ensures that there are adequate and consistent natural resources for agricultural activities. Thus, manifolds food security. The availability of clean air and water is ensured as well.  

Medicinal Value

Importance of animals for medicine production can’t be denied. For instance, cobra’s venom is vital to make leprosy medication. Similarly, lobsters can be used as antifungals.

By conserving wildlife, their natural habitat is also conserved. This is instrumental for medicinal research and the sustainability of the pharmaceutical industries.

Boosts Tourism

Contributing immensely to the GDP of countries, tourism is also affected adversely if wildlife conservation is not taken seriously. A host of tourists prefer holidaying in areas that include wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, forests, game parks, and zoos. Such places also give them chances to partake in ample activities like camping, fishing, boat riding, and hiking just to mention a few.

Wildlife conservation ensures that people enjoy nature at its best, while boosting economic growth of nations.

Preserves Heritage and Culture

At some places, livelihood and native practices are related to the local flora and fauna. So, to avoid loss of native heritage and land from, conservation of environment is crucial. In case of Africa Safaris, animals like lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, and elephants are included.

Thousands of wild beasts’ migration, associated to the “Serengeti Plain” ecosystem is another example that highlights the importance of conservation of wildlife to preserve heritage and culture.

Promotes pollination and continuity of native plant species

Since they depend on nectar from flowers, they are vital in crop production, inter-cropping, and promoting the continuity of native plant species. By moving from one flower to another in search of nectar, bees carry pollen by sustaining the process of crop growth.

Conservation of insects, birds, butterflies, and bees is vital for food production as they aid in pollination. They depend on flowers’ nectar, thus, play an instrumental role in crop production, inter-cropping, and maintaining the stability of native plant species.

Identification of New Plant and Animal Species for Research

Despite the increased animal research over the last decades, it is estimated that a significant number of animals and plants are not yet discovered. When one puts into consideration the fact that most human medications came from microbial organisms, animals, and plants, it highlights the need to conserve wildlife and its habitats.

In fact, some researchers believe that the medications for some of the incurable diseases will most likely from animals or plants that are yet to be discovered and hence the need to conserve the natural habitats.

Employment Opportunities

Wildlife is also instrumental for various employment opportunities. There are thousands of jobs that sustain people because of wildlife. When wild animals are there, many people are employed in zoo or a game park. Journalists also work at such places who create documentaries about wildlife, nature of wild species, and more.

As mentioned above, wildlife promotes tourism industry. When tourists visit national parks and sanctuaries, they look forward to accommodation in the wilderness. This is the reason many resorts are located within a short distance to such parks. Thus, jobs of many people associated with wildlife, tourism, and hospitality industries depend largely on the conservation of wildlife.

For Future Generations

With conservation steps, it will be ensured that the generations to come will see today’s wildlife. Reducing rapidly because of human activities and various other reasons, a host of animal species are on the verge of extinction. These species include Black and Javan rhinoceros, South China tiger, Sumatran elephant, Amur leopard, pangolin, Cross River gorilla, and Hawksbill turtle.

India is a home to a number of varied species of flora and fauna. Lots of measures are taken from time to time to conserve wildlife in India. Taking this to next level, Wildlife tours were initiated in India and are one of the best ways to aware people about the importance of wildlife and wilderness for humans and other species.

By embarking upon wildlife tours, you get a chance to explore the popular tiger reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India. Activities for wildlife conservation were encouraged with the establishment of Jim Corbett National Park in early 1930s. If the wildlife projects are to be considered, then Project Tiger leads the chart. It is because of these wildlife protection acts and measures that the population of endangered species have seen drastic improvements. Other wildlife conservation programs and projects which were initiated to safeguard the wildlife are mentioned below.

Wildlife Conservation Projects in India and Other Initiatives

When Rudyard Kipling penned Jungle Book in 1894, rich wildlife of India came to light. The fable showed the vast diversity of animals in the country. As a matter of fact, India is among world’s 17 mega diversities. It comprises almost 12.6% of birds, 7.6% of mammals, 6.2% of reptiles, and 6.0% of flowering plant species on earth. India also houses some of the world’s most bio diverse regions. So, it goes without saying that the country needs major conservation measures.

Since the dawn of 1930s, India has been working on wildlife conservation. It began with establishment of famous Jim Corbett National Park. Indian Government has initiated effective projects for wildlife conservation to check human encroachment. Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 is the most laudable among all as it bans trade of rare and endangered species. In this light, there is much more to the projects and schemes that constantly work to upkeep the rich wildlife of India. The account here elucidates the most significant ones among the initiatives by Government of India for wildlife conservation.

Important Wildlife Protection Projects by Indian Government

Project Tiger

Initiated in 1972, Project Tiger (link to a detailed report) aimed at repopulating Royal Bengal Tigers in the Indian subcontinent. It has not only contributed to the conservation of tigers but also of the entire ecosystem. Sponsored by Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, this is among the most successful wildlife conservation ventures. Jim Corbett National Park and Ranthambore National Park are parts of this project among almost 47 tiger reserves situated in more than 17 regions of the country. These tiger reserves conduct assessments of number of tigers, their habitat, and hunting habits under the supervision of the Tiger Task Force.

Success - Project Tiger has witnessed recovery of the habitat and increase in the tigers’ population in the reserve areas. The wild species has increased from 268 in 9 reserves in 1972 to more than 1000 in 28 reserves in 2006 to 2000+ tigers in 2016.

Project Elephant

In 1992, Project Elephant was devised to conserve elephants and their natural habitat. Its major objective was to check poaching of wild elephants. The project also addressed issues like mitigation of human-elephant conflict and welfare of domestic elephants. Efforts of the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the Government of India took steps against the diminishing populace and disturbed migration of Asiatic elephants. Indian states namely Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Meghalaya, Orissa, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Tripura, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh witnessed the initiative implementation.

Success – Since the project Elephant initiated, population of these animals has significantly increased. At the project commencement, it was almost 15000. As per many conservationists, he project is considered successful as the elephant populace is maintained at a stable and sustainable level in the country.

Crocodile Conservation Project

With conservation of Indian Crocodiles, Indian Government aims to conserve these species, especially those on the verge of extinction. Apart from protecting crocodiles, the project also contributes to various related conservation spheres. It established sanctuaries to protect their natural habitat and promote captive breeding. Additionally, it aims at involvement of locals and improvement of management.

Success - It is noteworthy that with Crocodile Conservation Project, 4000 alligators, 1800 crocodiles, and 1500 saltwater crocodiles could be restocked.

UNDP Sea Turtle Project

In November 1999, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun initiated the UNDP Sea Turtle Project to conserve the Olive Ridley Turtles. The project was initiated for 10 coastal Indian states, especially Odisha, where it has immensely contributed to various steps in favor of sea turtle conservation. Breeding sites’ map preparation of Sea Turtles, breeding places identification and habitats along the coast, and migratory routes taken by Sea Turtles are these steps. The project also developed guidelines to diminish the turtle mortality rate and encouraging tourism in sea turtle areas.

Success – One of the key accomplishments of this project is illustration of Satellite Telemetry use to locate the migratory sea route of sea turtles.

Other projects such as Vulture Conservation and India Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 are also in force by the Government of India.

Steps Taken By Indian Government to Protect Biodiversity

In addition to the aforementioned conservation projects, Government of India has initiated a few schemes for biodiversity protection. These schemes also minimize the mortality of critically endangered, endangered, and threatened animals. Some of the vital steps that Government of India has taken in the best interest of wildlife -

To curtail illegal trade of wildlife and endangered species, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established. The State Governments have strengthened the field formations and increased patrolling of the Protected Areas.

As per Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, Protected Areas like National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves, and Community Reserves for the wildlife were created. Active breeding programs, and tracking and protection against wildlife poaching is taken care of by Ministry of Environment and Forest. Concentrated efforts have protected various exotic animal species such as Asiatic Lions in Gir National Park and Hoolock Gibbon in Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary in various national parks. As of 2020, there are 103 national parks, 544 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 26 wetlands, and 18 Bio-Reserves in India. 10 out of these are parts of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010 aim at protection of wetlands in India. The Central Government has also commenced the scheme, National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-System that assists the states for wetlands’ management.

Wildlife Institute of India, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, and Bombay Natural History society conduct wildlife conservation research.

Veterinary use of diclofenac drug is banned by Government of India to curb dwindling population of Gyps vulture in India.

National Tiger Conservation Authority is constituted by Government of India to strengthen tiger conservation. A Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) has also been constituted and deployed in Odisha, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.

Kaziranga National Park (Assam) and borders of Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh) have e-surveillance.

To replenish the endangered species, Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat Scheme is also initiated. It was later modified by including a new component - Recovery of Endangered Species. The latter included animals like –

  • Hangul/stag deer (Jammu & Kashmir)
  • Vultures (Punjab), (Haryana), (Gujarat)
  • Snow Leopard (Jammu & Kashmir), (Himachal Pradesh), (Uttarakhand), (Arunachal Pradesh)
  • Swiftlet (Andaman & Nicobar Islands)
  • Nilgiri Tahr (Tamil Nadu)
  • Sangai Deer (Manipur)

Important Environment and Biodiversity Acts Passed by Indian Government

  • Fisheries Act 1897
  • Indian Forests Act 1927
  • Mining And Mineral Development Regulation Act 1957
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 1960
  • Wildlife Protection Act 1972
  • Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974
  • Forest Conservation Act 1980
  • Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981
  • Environment Protection Act 1986
  • Biological Diversity Act 2002

Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act 2006

Additionally, India has signed a few International schemes and projects with Nepal and Bangladesh related to unlawful wildlife species trade and conservation of tigers and leopards. Also, Government of India has taken ample other legal, administrative, and financial steps for effective wildlife conservation in India. It is encouraging to note that some projects and schemes have been successful that are related to Indian Rhinos, tigers, and poaching. This has infused confidence to continue working towards an affluent and unharmed wildlife.

To be precise, these initiatives have been fruitful to conserve wildlife. In various parts of the country, government has started campaigns to educate people about the importance of wildlife. Demands of animal skin or fur have lessened, thanks to these initiatives. If such demands continue to drop, hunting will be contained immensely. Extinction of even one species can cause havoc on the food chain and food web. As a matter of fact, every species is important in maintaining the environment health and diversity. With stringent steps, the dwindling wildlife can be brought back to significant population. Thereby, keeping up the symbiotic relationships among them for ecosystem.

Wildlife Conservation Initiatives by Government of India

Conservation Centers in India

The term ‘Conservation Areas in India’ refers to the well-demarcated large geographical entities...

The term ‘Conservation Areas in India’ refers to the well-demarcated large geographical entities with an established conservation plan. In India, a number of conservation plans have been set up for the purpose of studying, conserving and spreading about the betterment of the highly endangered species of wildlife.
NGOs In India

Owing to varying topography, India plays host to a good variety of plants, land and marine life. The...

Owing to varying topography, India plays host to a good variety of plants, land and marine life. The Wildlife Trust of India is a national conservation dedicated to the effective plan for the conservation of animal species.
Project Elephant

Launched in February 1992 by the Government of India, Project Elephant has been designed to combine...

Launched in February 1992 by the Government of India, Project Elephant has been designed to combine the programs for the conservation of elephant and its natural habitat. The project seeks to address the threats to the survival of elephants in our country.
Project Tiger

Established in 1973 with 9 Tiger Reserves, Project Tiger covers an area of 16,339 square kilometers,...

Established in 1973 with 9 Tiger Reserves, Project Tiger covers an area of 16,339 square kilometers, which has dramatically increased upto 37,761 square kilometers in 27 Tiger Reserves.
Conservation History of Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary

One of the top holiday destinations in India, Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1978...

One of the top holiday destinations in India, Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1978 as a part of the Idukki district of Kerala. The wildlife sanctuary is known for its stark beauty and unpleasant climate.
Conservation History of Gir National Park

The conservation history of Gir National Park takes us back to the early 1990’s when the...

The conservation history of Gir National Park takes us back to the early 1990’s when the population of Asiatic Lions dropped down to 15 due to slaughter. It deals with the conservation of Asiatic Lions, whose population had dropped tremendously.