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.
In this article we will discuss about the Preservation of Wildlife in India:- 1. Introduction to Preservation of Wildlife 2. Importance of Preservation of Wildlife 3. Cause of Wildlife Destruction 4. Methods of Preserving Wildlife 5. Sanctuaries and National Parks in India 6. Protection by Legislation 7. Wildlife Organizations in India.
Introduction to Preservation of Wildlife:
“Wild-life” means non-domesticated animals and uncultivated plants. It refers to magnificent fauna and flora in the jungle. Wild life management is concerned with the protection, propagation, and judicious control of population of rare species of animals and plants in their natural habitats.
During last 2000 years about 106 species of animals and 139 species of birds became extinct due to geographical & climatic changes and also due to human activity. Red Data Book lists about 600 species of animals at the verge of extinction.
Most wild animals and plants inhabit arboreal areas. Deforestation by human beings leads to a large scale destruction of wild-life.
Importance of Preservation of Wildlife:
Preservation of wild life is important because of following reasons:
1. Scientific value:
Scientific studies of wildlife species are important from academic point of view.
2. Commercial value:
Man depends on wildlife for many commercial products. The exploitation of wildlife resources has to be done with proper care and management.
3. Ecological value:
Destruction of wildlife may cause ecological imbalance. Protection of every organism is important to habitat preservation.
4. Game Value:
Hunting was a source of recreation and entertainment for Kings in olden days.
5. Asthetic value:
Wildlife is a source of “beauty”. It appeals to human thought spirit and imagination. It is a main attraction to tourists.
6. Ethical Value:
Man has no moral right to destroy wildlife. All religions preach a healthy respect to animals.
Cause of Wildlife Destruction:
There are two types of destruction of wildlife by man, direct and indirect.
Many species are destroyed by man by hunting and capturing. Man also indiscrimately kill animals for entertainment, flesh, fur, feathers, trophies etc.
This is due to deforestation, destruction of natural habitat, spread of deserts, pollution, industrialization, insecticides, pesticides, herbicides etc.
Indian Wild Life:
India has varied climatic and geographical conditions with luxuriant tropical forests. Wildlife is unique by its richness and heterogeneity. Indian wildlife comprise about 350 species (30 families) of mammals, 2100 species (66 families) of birds and plenty of reptiles like lizards, snakes and turtles.
Methods of Preserving Wildlife:
Following fundamental approaches are made to conserve wild life:
1. Habitate preservation:
This involves protection of wild life by biosphere reserve, protection and improvement of habitat.
2. Species preservation:
Nature reserves are usually designated in order to give protection to a species of plant or animal which is rare.
3. Breeding in captivity:
Some animals going to be extinct can be preserved by captive breeding.
4. Assemblage protection:
Most commonly an assemblage of species is protected. Delhi Zoo and Bharatpur Bird sanctuary are specially managed for assemblage of migratory birds. These places give maximum cover and food supply for migrating birds and to provide refuge from hunting.
The animals going to be extinct can be reintroduced to suitable places similar to the original habitat
6. Mass Education:
The common man should be educated the importance of wildlife and significance of its preservation.
The different methods are:
(a) Celebration of wildlife week every year.
(b) Publicity through media & film shows
(c) holding conduct tours, lectures, essay competitions, seminars, symposia etc.
(d) setting up nature clubs in educational institutions.
(e) Publication of life books and journals.
(f) Establishment of Natural history museum.
7. Promulgation of Laws:
Poaching, capturing, killing and hunting wildlife can be prevented by wildlife protection acts.
Sanctuaries and National Parks in India:
These are the areas, declared by statute, for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wild life for their scientific, educational and recreational value. There exist differences between a sanctuary and a national park. In a sanctuary hunting without permit is prohibited and grazing or movement of cattle is regulated. In a national park hunting and grazing are absolutely prohibited.
At present, there 19 National parks and 202 sanctuaries scattered throughout India. They comprise a total area of about 75,000 sq. km. which roughly comes to 19% of reserve forest area and 2.3% total geographical area of the country. Sanctuaries and parks not only protect wildlife but safe guard varied ecosystem, prevent soil erosion and help in recycling of wastes. Many of them are accessible to the Indian as well as foreign tourists and therefore of economic value.
Areawise the largest is Ikshawaka sanctuary (Nagarjuna Sagar) in Andhra Pradesh covering 3568 sq. km. and smallest is Sultanpur (Lake) Bird sanctuary in Haryana covering 1.2 sq. km.
The National parks of world fame in India are:
1. Dachigam National Park, Kashmir, (Kashmir stag).
2. Corbett National Park, Uttar Pradesh (Indian Tiger).
3. Gir National Park, Gujarat (Asiatic Lion).
4. Kaziranga National Park, Assam (one homed Rhinoceros).
5. Keoladeo National park, Rajasthan (Avifauna).
Protection by Legislation:
Most wild animals and plants inhabit forest areas. Any change in the forest environment in terms of food supply and other details would have a corresponding effect in their population. Deforestation and poaching leads to destruction of wild life.
Appreciating the desirability of wildlife preservation, the India government enacted the Wild life Protection Act in 1972. The protected Indian wild life includes about 60 mammals, 11 birds and 6 reptiles. Despite the existence of this act, poaching (killing of game animals) is still a big national problem.
There are a large number of rural poachers active in the tarai belt of the Himalayas. These poachers shoot deer, wild bear, tiger, leopard and a variety of game birds. The meat of herbivore animals and the hides of the leopard and tiger are sold in market. Expensive purses and belts are made out of skin of snakes, crocodiles and the snow leopard.
Some products derived from the musk deer and bear also fetch a lot of money for these poachers. Efforts are now being intensified to curb the activities of poachers with a view to saving our wild life resources from further destruction and depletion.
Wildlife Organizations in India:
The following three organizations are dedicated for the preservation of Indian wildlife.
1. IBWL (Indian Board for Wildlife):
It is an advisory body on country’s wildlife constituted by Government of India in 1952.
2. BHNS (Bombay Natural- History Society):
It is a nongovernmental organization founded in 1881 to the cause of wildlife conservation in the country. The society conducts research and educational activities and brings out a journal on the wildlife of India.
3. WPSI (Wildlife Preservation Society of India):
It is also a nongovernmental body founded in 1958 at Dehra Dun. The society conducts tours of students and members to sanctuaries and parks, carries out research on vanishing flora and fauna, organizes a Corbett Memorial Essay competition for school students and brings forth a bilingual quarterly journal called “Cheetal”.