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”.
India boasts a variety of species and organisms. Apart from a handful of the major farm animals such as cows, buffaloes, goats, chickens, and both Bactrian Camels and, Dromedary Camels, India has an amazingly wide spectrum of animals native to the country. It is home to Bengal and Indochinese tigers, Asiatic Lions, Leopards, Snow Leopards, Clouded Leopards, various species of Deer, including Chital, Hangul, Barasingha; the Indian Elephant, the Great Indian Rhinoceros, and many more amongst others. The region's rich and diverse wildlife is preserved in 120+ national parks, 18 Bio-reserves and 500+ wildlife sanctuaries across the country. India has some of the most biodiverse regions of the world and hosts three of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots – or treasure-houses – that is the Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas and Indo-Burma. Since India is home to a number of rare and threatened animal species, wildlife management in the country is essential to preserve these species. India is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries. According to one study, India along with other 16 mega diverse countries is home to about 60-70% of the world's biodiversity. India, lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, is home to about 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian (bird), 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species.
Many Indian species are descendants of taxa originating in Gondwana, to which India originally belonged. Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards, and collision with, the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. However, volcanism and climatic change 20 million years ago caused the extinction of many endemic Indian forms. Soon thereafter, mammals entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes on either side of the emerging Himalaya. As a result, among Indian species, only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are endemic, contrasting with 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians. Notable endemics are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and the brown and carmine Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats. India contains 172, or 2.9%, of IUCN-designated threatened species. These include the Asian elephant, the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, mugger crocodile, and Indian white-rumped vulture, which suffered a near-extinction from ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle.
In recent decades, human encroachment has posed a threat to India's wildlife; in response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial habitat; further federal protections were promulgated in the 1980s. Along with over 515 wildlife sanctuaries, India now hosts 18 biosphere reserves, 10 of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; 26 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.
The pipalfig tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment. The varied and rich wildlife of India has had a profound impact on the region's popular culture. The word has been also made famous in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. India's wildlife has been the subject of numerous other tales and fables such as the Panchatantra.
Main article: Fauna of India
India is home to several well-known large mammals, including the Asian elephant, Bengal and Indochinese tigers, Asiatic lion, Indian leopard,Indian sloth bear and Indian rhinoceros. Some other well-known large Indian mammals are: ungulates such as the rare wild Asian water buffalo, common domestic Asian water buffalo, gail, gaur, and several species of deer and antelope. Some members of the dog family, such as the Indian wolf, Bengal fox and golden jackal, and the dhole or wild dogs are also widely distributed. However, the dhole, also known as the whistling hunter, is the most endangered top Indian carnivore, and the Himalayan wolf is now a critically endangered species endemic to India. It is also home to the striped hyena, macaques, langur and mongoose species.
Main article: Flora of India
There are about 17500 taxa of flowering plants from India. The Indian Forest Act, 1927 helped to improve protection of the natural habitat. Many ecoregions, such as the sholaforests, also exhibit extremely high rates of endemism; overall, 33% of Indian plant species are endemic.
India's forest cover ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and Northeast India to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the sal-dominated moist deciduous forest of eastern India; teak-dominated dry deciduous forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain. Important Indian trees include the medicinal neem, widely used in rural Indian herbal remedies.
The need for conservation of wildlife in India is often questioned because of the apparently incorrect priority in the face of direct poverty of the people. However, Article 48 of the Constitution of India specifies that, "The state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country" and Article 51-A states that "it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures." The committee in the Indian Board for Wildlife, in their report, defines wildlife as "the entire natural uncultivated flora and fauna of the country" while the Wildlife (protection) Act 1972 defines it as "any animal, bees, butterflies, crustacea, fish, moths and aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat."
Despite the various environmental issues faced, the country still has a rich and varied wildlife compared to Europe. Large and charismatic mammals are important for wildlife tourism in India, and several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries cater to these needs. Project Tiger, started in 1972, is a major effort to conserve the tiger and its habitats. At the turn of the 20th century, one estimate of the tiger population in India placed the figure at 40,000, yet an Indian tiger census conducted in 2008 revealed the existence of only 1,411 tigers. 2010 tiger census revealed that there are 1700 tigers left in India. As per the latest tiger census (2015), there are around 2226 tigers in India. By far, there is an overall 30% increase in tiger population.  Various pressures in the later part of the 20th century led to the progressive decline of wilderness resulting in the disturbance of viable tiger habitats. At the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) General Assembly meeting in Delhi in 1969, serious concern was voiced about the threat to several species of wildlife and the shrinkage of wilderness in India. In 1970, a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed, and in 1972 the Wildlife Protection Act came into force. The framework was then set up to formulate a project for tiger conservation with an ecological approach. However, there is not much optimism about this framework's ability to save the peacock, which is the national bird of India. George Schaller wrote about tiger conservation:
The exploitation of land and forest resources by humans along with capturing and trapping for food and sport has led to the extinction of many species in India in recent times. These species include mammals such as the Indian/Asiatic cheetah, wild zebu, Indian Javan rhinoceros, and Northern Sumatran rhinoceros. While some of these large mammal species are confirmed extinct, there have been many smaller animal and plant species whose status is harder to determine. Many species have not been seen since their description. Gir forest in India has the only surviving population of Asiatic lions in the world.]]Some species of birds have gone extinct in recent times, including the pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) and the Himalayan quail (Ophrysia superciliosa). A species of warbler, Acrocephalus orinus, known earlier from a single specimen collected by Allan Octavian Hume from near Rampur in Himachal Pradesh, was rediscovered after 139 years in Thailand.
National symbols (animals)
The Indian government has established eighteen biosphere reserves of India which protect larger areas of natural habitat and often include one or more national parks and/or preserves, along buffer zones that are open to some economic uses. Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life.
The bio-reserves in India are:
Ten of the eighteen biosphere reserves are a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, based on the UNESCOMan and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) list.
The diversity of fungi and their natural beauty occupy a prime place in the biological world and India has been a cradle for such organisms. Only a fraction of the total fungal wealth of India has been subjected to scientific scrutiny and mycologists have to unravel this unexplored and hidden wealth. One-third of fungal diversity of the globe exists in India. The country has an array of 10 diverse biomes including Trans-Himalayan zone, Himalaya, Desert, Semi-Arid zone, Western Ghats, Deccan Peninsula, Gangetic Plain, North-Eastern India, Coasts and Islands where varied dominating regimes manifest. This enables the survival of manifold fungal flora in these regions which include hot spot areas like the Himalayan ranges, Western Ghats, hill stations, mangroves, sea coasts, fresh water bodies etc. Many fungi have been recorded from these regions and from the country in general comprising thermophiles, psychrophiles, mesophiles, aquatic forms, marine forms, plant and animal pathogens, edible fungi and beneficial fungi and so on. The number of fungi recorded in India exceeds 27,000 species, the largest biotic community after insects. The true fungi belong to the Kingdom Fungi which has four phyla, 103 orders, 484 families and 4979 genera. About 205 new genera have been described from India, of which 32% were discovered by C. V. Subramanian of the University of Madras. These features indicate a ten-fold increase in the last 80 years.
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