The uniqueness of any region depends upon its vegetation, animals and culture, and it is paramount that these regions are conserved to protect against any dangerous and lasting damage. Although progressing times have called for a modern “face-lift” to our societies the world over, one should remember how distinctive their country’s habitat and inhabitants remain. Over the years, there have been many wildlife species that have been hunted or killed, either within the law or unlawfully, and this has pushed many species to the cusp of extinction. India is the proud home of rare animal species – such as the Bengal Tiger – and other animals which are scattered throughout its land, that need to be protected so that their kind does not become extinct and the future citizens of India can also appreciate these rare species that make it one of the most prestigious places for wildlife spotting.
Why the Need for Conservation of Wildlife in India:
Illegal poaching is one of the paramount reasons why wildlife conservation has gained prominence over the past few years. The Indian elephant was hunted for its ivory tusks, as was the Bengal Tiger for its skin – which was used in making luxurious fur coats. These, and other species, have been hunted for their meat as well. As these activities have been carried out on such a large scale and in multiple states, there has been widespread killing of these species, and their numbers have drastically been reduced in a short time. This has prompted many official and unofficial organizations to spring up and actively voice concerns for the protection of various wildlife species and to curb these poaching activities, which has resulted in the formulation of many animal protection programs and establishment of wildlife conservation parks and sanctuaries.
Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks:
Wildlife sanctuaries have an area that is demarcated by the government, where killing of animals is strictly prohibited unless the official authority controlling the sanctuary gives permission otherwise. On the other hand, national parks conserve flora and fauna; and conserve the natural habitat of places to create a thriving environment for various species as well.
Currently, there are 398 sanctuaries in India and 69 national parks, which cover around 4 percent of the total geographic area of the country. There are further plans in the pipeline to increase the number of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, and to increase the area covered by these to around 4.6 percent.
There exist wildlife sanctuaries in India which house multiple animal species within their borders, such as the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary which is located in Sibassa in Assam. It is home to elephants, wild boars, rhinoceros, pelicans, leopards, storks and eagles. On the other hand, some wildlife sanctuaries such as the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve, which is located in the Kamrup region of Assam, are specifically dedicated to protect specific species.
Projects Aimed to Protect Specific Species:
There are many ongoing projects in various states which have been targeted to protect the rarest animal species in order to increase their numbers and provide them with adequate protection as they are really threatened to be extinct. On the positive side, there are a lot of successful projects – such as Project Tiger, which was initiated in 1973 and was used to collect data about various tiger species; it aimed to protect their habitat and increase their numbers over a sustained period of time.
In 1992, the Ministry of Environment initiated Project Elephant to protect the Asian Elephant; it covers the elephant population throughout India. Elephant habitats and elephant corridors have been specifically targeted and significant amount of financial assistance has been provided to ensure the safety of these animals and to protect their sustained growth.
Apart from land animals, there are many aquatic species which are also in danger of becoming extinct. These include many species of inland and marine fish. This has prompted setting up of many fisheries in both inland and marine areas in order to protect the number of fish available and control unrestrained fishing. These fisheries have also been recognized to generate many local jobs and to develop rural areas. As a result, state and centre governments have been active proponents for their development and sustainability. Institutes such as the Central Institute of Freshwater Agriculture have been developed to provide carp fishing training and aid in the development of aquaculture.
Overall, there have been many successful wildlife conservation projects initiated throughout India over the years; however, still more needs to be done. Illegal poaching needs to be curbed and there needs to be more awareness among people to start protecting their environment and the various species that make India so unique on the global stage. These animal species are a part of the identity India has forged abroad over the years and thus should be protected so they can thrive in their natural habitat. This is a plan for the future and must be protected at all costs.