Protection and conservation of forests and wildlife are essential to maintain the earth’s health and environment. The earth is the only known living planet and it is because of its special environment and ecology which are life-supporting. Forests are part and parcel of our environment.
They are one of the most valuable resources and gifts of nature. They play a key role in the maintenance climate, rain-patterns, water and soil conservation.
They are the natural home of much type- of animals, birds, reptiles, insects etc. They supply timber, fuel, medicines, and wood for peeper-pulp and raw materials for many industries. The increasing depletion and destruction of wildlife is a source of great concern. One out of every seven persons of the world live in India.
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India has 16 per cent of the world’s population with only 2.4 percent of its land area. There is much pressure on our natural resources including forests. In these times of increasing consumerism and nature- hostile activities, the forest-cover is depleting and deteriorating very fast.
The conservation of wildlife which includes native plants and animals, depends on protection of forests. Wildlife is the direct product of the land resources and habitat conditions. The neglect of forests moans the destruction of the wild animals.
Wildlife, like we human beings, need food, water, and shelter. Destruction of forests, wetlands, marshes, points, grasslands etc. eliminates their sources of food, water and habitat. The National wildlife action Plan launched in 1983 provides the framework of strategy as well as programme for conservation of wildlife.
The protected area network till 1 993 consisted of 75 national parks and 421 sanctuaries covering 4.5 per cent of the total geographical area, which was proposed to be increased to 5.1 per cent. The wildlife protection Act, 1972 governs wildlife conservation and protection of endangered species. The Act prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
India is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered species of Wild Flora and Fauna. Under this export or import of these endangered species is subject to strict control. Commercial exploitation such species is prohibited. The Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 has been suitably amended to make the provisions more effective. Endangered species of plants and animals have been brought under the purview of ten acts.
India is very rich both in flora and fauna but many plant and animal species are already extinct and many other are on the road to extinction. In spite of various acts and rules- regulations against exploitation of wildlife, the real conservation has one of the major wildlife producer counties of the world and yet there is a skeleton staff to safeguard the interests of wildlife. Poachers are on the prowl even in sanctuaries and protected forest areas.
They have become fertile hunting grounds for illegal hunting and killing of animals. The rich and influential people and traders in, animal-skins, horns, etc. have been indulging in hunting, killing and trading of wildlife with impunity. They carry telescopic rifles and other weapons, use traps and poison food and kill the animals.
As a result of ecological imbalances and depleting forest-cover, the wild animals come out at night in search of food in the villages and attack human beings and domestic animals and fowls. In some parts of Uttar Pradesh the hyena and wolf-menace was very much in the news. Many children were killed by the wolves and hyenas.
Similarly, in Pauri Garwal district of UP some leopards turned into man-eaters. Faced with the scarcity of animals for prey in the forest and continuing attacks from poachers, they become man- eaters. And once a man-eater is always a man- eater because man is the softest target.
On many an occasion, the villagers injure more animals then they kill and so the injured animals turn into man-eaters and attack villages at night for food. When a human kill takes place, every leopard or tiger is regarded as man-eater and there is indiscriminate killing consequently, the number of these felines is decreasing fast.
Thousands of snails, frog, rats, earthworms, cockroaches and other animals are killed for dissection in schools, colleges and laboratories for experiments. Snakes are also killed indiscriminately out of ignorance as greed. This destroys and disturbs the fragile ecological balance. Tigers are subjected to utmost brutality by man, the most intelligent and evolved animal on the earth.
There is mindless destruction of forests for timber, firewood and fuel. Every year there is a loss of about 1.3 hectares of forest area in India because of large and indiscriminate clearing of forests for cultivation, quarrying and large dams and irrigation projects.
Then there is intensive and indiscriminate logging for commercial purposes by contractors and timber-merchants. Over-grazing has also taken its toll. The result is serious ecological imbalance and environment degradation. There is much pressure on forests and the relation between men and forests has reached the lowest depth.
Conservation of forests and wildlife is also important from aesthete point of view. They make life beautiful and colourful. Without them human life will lose much of its beauty, charm and meaning. Their proper protection and conservation also means a continuous and adequate supply of food, fodder, medicines, timber etc.
Forests and wildlife and renewable resources which need to be diligently protected, preserved and increased in a planned way. There is a need to spread the awareness about forest and wildlife conservation. Social forestry can be taught in schools as a subject.
More and more trees should be planted, protected and seen growing and maturing. There should be a ban on mobile zoos and animal rights activists should come forward to wage a war on behalf of the mute and innocent animals.
The destruction and degradation of forests in upper reigns like Himalayas causes such other ruins as erosion of top soil erratic rainfall, and recurring floods. Deforestation is a great social and national evil and should be checked on priority basis. It results in loss of productivity and environment degradation among much other harm.
Encroachment on forests should also be checked and, if possible, banned, Non government agencies, village communities; trial’s etc. should be involved in social forestry and regeneration of degraded forest lands. They should be allowed to share the benefits of these schemes in a judicious manner. The forest and wildlife conservation laws should be made more stringent and practiced scrupulously.
Veerappan’s continued bloody trade in ivory and sandalwood trade upsets all concerned. Throughout the Nilgiris, it is now almost impossible to spot a large tusker. The full blown assault on forest and wildlife saddens all the Indians and wildlife lovers in foreign countries.
Wildlife means all the flora and fauna, which are not domesticated by humans. It includes animals, plants and microorganisms. Wildlife tours in India is your chance to explore some of the well known tiger reserves and national parks sprinkled across different parts of the country.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts in India
Last few decades have seen emergence of human encroachment to an extent that has never been seen. This is one of the greatest threat to India's wildlife. In order to overcome the result of human encroachment many national parks as well as protected areas have been established so far and the first came in 1935. Also in 1972, to protect the tiger and wildlife in India, the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard were enacted.
More Wildlife Conservation Projects and Programs
To promote wildlife awareness among the people, the Indian government has started various natural projects and programs such as Project Tiger, Nature Camps and Jungle Lodges. These projects not only help to preserve our natural heritage, but encourage eco-tourism as well.
Project Tiger was formed in 1972 and launched on the 1st April 1973 at Corbett National Park. Till date, the project has been the most successful one in preserving the tiger population at Tiger Reserves in Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Pench, Ranthambhore, Kanha, Bandipur, Panna, Dudhwa, Sunderbans, Manas and Sariska. All these reserves act as Conservation Centers for tigers in India.
Besides, there is the Gir National Park, the only habitat for Asiatic lions in India. The Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is Assam is renowned for protecting the endangered one-horned Rhinoceros. There's also Dachigam National Park, which conserves the Hangul or Kashmiri Stag.
Project Elephant, a centrally sponsored scheme, was launched in February 1992 to provide financial and technical support to major elephant bearing states in India for protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors. The Project, involving 25 Elephant Reserves across the country, is being implemented in 13 States and Union Territories in India, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The NGOs - There are also various NGOs working on wildlife conservation in India such as Wildlife Society of Orissa (Orissa), Rhino Foundation for Nature (Assam), Friends of Forests (Maharashtra), North Eastern Society for Preservation of Nature and Wildlife (West Bengal), Nature's Beckon (Assam), Nature Conservation Society Amravati (Maharashtra), The Friends of the Doon (Uttaranchal) and Bali Nature and Wild Life Conservation Society (West Bengal).
Gir National Park, Gujarat- Asiatic Lion that is close to extinction is found in the GIr National Park, Gujarat.
Kaziranga Sanctuary in Assam - Kaziranga Sanctuary in Assam has been established to protect the endangered Rhinoceros.
Periyar in Kerala - At Periyar, Kerala Wild elephants are preserved.
Dachigam National Park- Efforts are made to save Kashmiri Stag
Wildlife Sanctuaries in India
3.29 million sq. km of area comes under the wildlife conservations efforts in India and it is becoming a very popular wildlife holiday destinations both for Indian as well as International tourists. At present there are more than 500 wildlife sanctuaries in India and seventeen Biosphere Reserves.
Popular Wildlife Sanctuaries in India
- Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh
- Corbett National Park in Uttar Pradesh
- Gir National Park & Sanctuary in Gujarat
- Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh
- Kaziranga National Park in Assam
- Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala
- Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan
- Sunderbans National Park in West Bengal
Government of India has initiated an effort to conserve wildlife, both flora and fauna including human communities living under Biosphere Reserves. Biosphere Reserves are actually the areas defined by the Government of India for protecting the above said in their natural habitat. There are seventeen Biosphere Reserves in India at present. Achanakmar-Amarkantak, Agasthyamalai, Dibru Saikhowa, Dihang Dibang, Great Nicobar, Gulf of Mannar, Kachchh ,Kangchenjunga, Manas, Nanda Devi, The Nilgiris, Nokrek, Pachmarhi, Simlipal, Sundarbans, Cold desert, seshachalam hills
Wildlife in India
India is a home to rich and diverse wildlife tours because of her wide range of climate, soil, weather and other such factors. Owing to such diversity, equal number of rare as well as threatened animals and plants are found that need to be protected. This leads to the need of much greater wildlife conservation efforts in India. As per the survey India is a home to about 60-70% of the total biodiversity found across the world and about 33% of plant species are endemic. There are 172, or 2.9%, of IUCN-designated threatened species in India. Under this comes the Asiatic Lion, the Indian white-rumped vultures and the Bengal Tiger. This further enforces the need of right wildlife conservation efforts in India.
Importance of Wildlife Conservation
Due to the growing impact of deforestation, continuous efforts are being made by some anxious animal lovers to protect the endangered species of wildlife as well as those that are on the verge of extinction and thus save the world from running out its green heritage. Wildlife is important for four main reasons:
Beauty: By their unique way of existence, wild creatures exaggerate the natural beauty of the earth.
Economic value: The financial value of wild species is important to the economies of several nations, as it provides many valuable substances like wood and other plant products, fibers, meat and other foods, and skins and furs.
Scientific value: By studying wildlife, scientists have gained valuable knowledge about various life processes and discovered important medical products
Survival value: Wildlife helps in maintaining the balanced living systems of earth, which consequently ensures survival of life.
National Parks of India
First national park of India was established in 1935 under the name of Hailey National Park that is now known as Jim Corbett National Park. Till 1970 there were only five national parks in India but the number rose to 96 by April 2007.