Conservation of Wildlife

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India is renowned for its extensive array of wildlife, with habitats spanning the Himalayas, Cauvery basin, Kutch region, and Assam plains. The country serves as a home to countless remarkable and endangered animal species.

The beauty and diversity of the Indian jungles is indescribable, and I aim to capture its vastness through pictures in this project. Unfortunately, human greed and carelessness have harmed this precious wildlife. The population of many wild animals and birds has rapidly declined due to extensive poaching, destruction of their habitats, and human conflict. Tragically, some animals like the Indian cheetah are now extinct because of these reasons. Conservation of Indian wildlife has been neglected for a significant period.

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Conserving wildlife in India is a pressing matter that both the government and the people have acknowledged. There are currently multiple projects underway to protect India’s natural resources, involving governmental and individual efforts. Additionally, the private sector is also involved through corporate social responsibility, aiming to raise public awareness. Hence, safeguarding India’s abundant wildlife has become an urgent priority.

The wildlife in this land is a magnificent and diverse gift from nature. It is characterized by its vibrant colors and variety, including majestic lions, fearsome tigers, unproductive leopards, powerful elephants, nimble deer, attractive antelope, picturesque peafowl, gorgeous pelicans, beautiful parakeets, woodpeckers, and elegant flamingos. This impressive collection of animals makes any country proud to have them. In addition to the diverse animal life, this land also boasts an extensive range of plant species with 46610 species. The rich biodiversity includes 312 species of mammals, 1175 species of birds, 399 species of reptiles, 60000 species of insects and 181 species of amphibians.

Throughout the past 2000 years, around 106 animal species and 140 bird species have become extinct as a result of climate shifts, changes in geography, and excessive hunting by humans for purposes like food, medicine, and fur. Experts in ecology anticipate that unless wildlife management measures are implemented, over 600 animal and bird species could encounter extinction. A total of approximately 250 animal and bird species have already vanished due to various factors including the exponential growth of the human population. This growth has prioritized progress and prosperity at the cost of other life forms.

Human activities pose the primary threat to wildlife due to the expanding human population and their increasing needs. This population growth has resulted in greater utilization of natural resources through advancements in science and technology, making it crucial to preserve wildlife for sustainable yields.

India is fortunate to possess abundant and diverse flora similar to that found in developed, developing, or underdeveloped countries. Moreover, wildlife plays a vital role in our daily lives as it provides many products we use, including penicillin from Penicillium and quinine from Cinchona. Wildlife also contributes significantly to the income generated by the tourism industry through its popular national parks and forests. Additionally, it plays a critical function in maintaining material cycles such as carbon and nitrogen cycles.

Furthermore, genes stored in gene banks obtained from wildlife support breeding programs aimed at enhancing agriculture, animal husbandry, and fisheries. Ultimately, conserving wildlife helps maintain the ecological balance of nature.

The extinction of a species affects the entire food chain. In India, wildlife faces significant threats which include overcrowding in wildlife sanctuaries that greatly diminishes their capacity. Furthermore, national parks experience increased tourism due to the growing popularity of eco-tourism and adventure tourism.

The increase in vehicle pollution and wildlife road fatalities has damaged the natural habitat of birds and animals. Furthermore, the growth of tourism has led to a rise in wildfires within parks. Innocently started campfires by visitors often result in dangerous wildfires, causing harm to animals and destroying their habitats. In addition, personal watercrafts like jet skis or wave runners disrupt coastal wildlife by entering shallow waters and displacing nesting birds from their roosts.

Various factors have negatively impacted the environment. These include disturbing bird mating behaviors, contaminating water bodies with chemicals and toxic effluents, affecting wildlife through climate changes, and creating an ongoing risk of poaching.

Despite the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, poaching continues to be a persistent problem in India. The exploitation of land and forest resources, as well as hunting and trapping for food and sport, have led to the recent extinction of several species. These include mammals such as the Indian/Asiatic Cheetah, Wild Zebu, Javan Rhinoceros, and Sumatran Rhinoceros. While larger mammal species have been officially declared extinct, it has been more difficult to determine the status of smaller animal and plant species.

Many species, such as the Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) and the Himalayan Quail (Ophrysia superciliosa), have become extinct in recent times. The warbler species Acrocephalus orinus, previously only known from a specimen collected by Allan Octavian Hume near Rampur in Himachal Pradesh, was rediscovered after 139 years in Thailand [15][16]. WILDLIFE CONSERVATION IN INDIA • WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY The WCS program in India began in 1986 with a single tiger research project at Nagarhole National Park.

WCS has evolved from one project to a diverse range of wildlife-related activities. These activities, carried out under the umbrella of WCS, encompass scientific research, capacity building, policy interventions, site-based conservation, and the development of innovative wildlife conservation models. The primary goal of WCS is to safeguard wildlife and their habitats. Although research serves as a guide for conservation efforts in various settings, we believe in showcasing practical examples of conservation through ongoing dedication to endangered species in specific locations.

Since the 1980s, WCS-India has been involved in assisting the Indian government and non-government organizations in safeguarding the tiger, which is India’s most important species. Our conservation efforts are accomplished through a network of devoted local partners who constantly interact with officials, wildlife managers, local communities, influential individuals, and social leaders near our primary long-term locations. Our conservation strategies rely on dedicated local partners who share our ecological perspective, are motivated by our mission, and can operate within the current framework of Indian laws.

Our conservation actions are implemented at site-based level, but can also be expanded to state and national levels when necessary. PROJECT TIGER was initiated by the Indian government in 1973-74 to address the decreasing population of tigers. The project involved taking over and transforming nine wildlife sanctuaries into tiger reserves. These reserves were designed to mimic the diverse terrains found across the country, with their core areas remaining undisturbed by human activity.

By 2003, the number of sanctuaries supported by ‘Project Tiger’ had grown to 27. These reserves not only serve as habitats for tigers but also safeguard them from poaching. The positive impact is evident in India’s tiger population, which has significantly increased since the project’s implementation. It is credited with tripling the count of wild Bengal tigers from 1200 in 1973 to over 3500 in the 1990s. However, a tiger census conducted in 2007 revealed a drastic decline of approximately 60% in India’s wild tiger population, estimating it to be around 1,411.

This was primarily caused by poaching. After the report was released, the Indian government committed $153 million to support the project tiger initiative, establish a tiger protection force to combat poachers, and fund the relocation of up to 200,000 villagers to reduce human-tiger interaction. Furthermore, eight new tiger reserves have been established.

TIGERS FOREVER is a partnership between the Wildlife Conservation Society and Banthera Corporation that serves as both a science-based action plan and a business model to ensure the long-term survival of tigers in the wild.

The initial field sites of Tigers Forever consist of various locations including the Hukaung Valley in Myanmar, which is the world’s largest reserve spanning 21756sq. km. Other sites include the Western Ghats in India, the Huai Khaeng-Thung Yai protected areas in Thailand, as well as locations in Laos PDR, Cambodia, the Russian Far East, and China. These sites cover approximately 260,000sq. km of critical tiger habitat.

Additionally, Project Elephant (PE) was introduced in February 1992 as a centrally sponsored scheme. It aims to provide financial and technical assistance to major elephant-bearing states within the country for safeguarding elephants, their habitats, and connecting corridors.

The Project is currently being implemented in 13 States / Union Territories, including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttranchal, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Various State Governments have declared 25 Elephant Reserves (ERs), covering about 58,000 square kilometers. In 2002 there were an estimated 26,413 wild elephants.

Main activities of the Project include:
• Ecological restoration of existing natural habitats and migratory routes of elephants
• Development of scientific and planned management for conservation of elephant habitats and viable population of Wild Asiatic elephants in India
• Promotion of measures for mitigation of man elephant conflict in crucial habitats and moderating pressures of human and domestic stock activities in crucial elephant habitats
• Strengthening of measures for protection of Wild elephants form poachers and unnatural causes of death
• Research on Elephant management related issues
• Public education and awareness programmes
• Eco-development
• Veterinary care

The Kashmir stag (Cervus affinis hanglu), also called Hangul, is a subspecies of Central Asian Red Deer native to northern India. This deer lives in groups of two to 18 individuals in dense riverine forests, high valleys, and mountains of the Kashmir valley and northern Chamba in Himachal Pradesh. In Kashmir, it’s found in Dachigam National Park at elevations of 3,035 meters.

Despite the threats of habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock, and poaching, the population of these deer declined from approximately 5,000 in the early 1900s to as low as 150 by 1970. However, a collaborative effort called Project Hangul was implemented by Jammu & Kashmir state, the IUCN, and the WWF to safeguard these animals. Consequently, their population rebounded to over 340 by 1980.


The Indian Crocodile Conservation Project is a global initiative in conservation that has successfully rescued endangered crocodilians from extinction. The project’s main goals are to protect the remaining population of crocodiles, establish sanctuaries, rebuild the population through techniques like “grow and release” or “rear and release,” promote captive breeding, conduct research for management enhancement, and train personnel at the Central Crocodile Breeding and Management Training Institute in Hyderabad. The project also aims to involve local communities in conservation efforts.

In addition to this project, there is another notable initiative focusing on conserving Olive Ridley Turtle population that migrates to Indian coastal waters during winter for nesting primarily along the eastern coast. The Sea Turtle Conservation Project was launched by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in collaboration with UNDP. This project specifically concentrates on safeguarding olive ridley turtles as well as other endangered marine turtles. The Wildlife Institute of India acts as the Implementing Agency for this initiative.

Currently, both initiatives are being implemented in 10 coastal states in India, with particular emphasis on the State of Orissa.

The project received a total financial allocation of Rs. 1.29 crores. It assisted in creating an inventory map of breeding sites for Sea Turtles, identifying nesting and breeding habitats along the shoreline, and determining migratory routes that Sea Turtles take. The project also developed guidelines to protect and reduce turtle mortality, fostered national and international cooperation for Sea Turtle Conservation, created tourism plans for areas with sea turtles, and improved infrastructure and human resources for Sea Turtle Conservation.

One notable achievement has been the utilization of Satellite Telemetry to track the migratory route of Olive Ridley Turtles in the sea. This has also involved raising awareness among fishermen and the State Government about the importance of implementing Turtle Exclusion Devices (TED) in fishing trawlers to prevent turtle mortality caused by fishing nets. Another conservation initiative in India focuses on protecting vultures, with nine wild species in the country.

These are the Oriental White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Slender billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris), Long billed Vulture (Gyps indicus), Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Red Headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), Indian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus). The population of three species, namely White-backed Vulture, Slender billed Vulture, and Long billed Vulture, in the wild has declined drastically over the past decade.

According to reports, the population of Gyps genus in India saw a significant decrease of 97% in 2005. One notable sign of illness observed in these birds is a behavior called ‘Neck drooping’. This behavior entails them displaying extended periods of neck drooping before eventually collapsing and dropping from trees. Experiments have shown that captive vultures are extremely vulnerable to Diclofenac, a veterinary drug. Ingesting the carcass of an animal treated with the recommended dosage of this drug results in kidney failure and ultimately gout, leading to their death.

Vultures play a significant role in India due to their ecological, social, and cultural importance. They are essential for maintaining environmental cleanliness by consuming animal carcasses. Additionally, they hold religious significance for the Parsi community as they aid in the disposal of deceased individuals. Unfortunately, the declining vulture population has resulted in an upsurge of feral dog populations which have become the primary scavengers in specific regions.

Both the increase in putrefying carcasses and changes in scavenger populations pose disease risks for wildlife, livestock, and humans. Due to widespread and rapid population decline, IUCN, the World Conservation Union, classified all three vulture species as ‘Critically Endangered’ in 2000. Regrettably, the current captive populations in India are also not sustainable for any of the species, making complete extinction highly probable without immediate action.

In 2004, India introduced a proposal to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) regarding the conservation of vultures. The IUCN accepted this motion and converted it into a resolution. The resolution urged countries within the range of Gyps vultures to take steps to prevent the use of diclofenac in veterinary applications, as it could contaminate carcasses of domestic animals that vultures consume as food. It also called for the creation of an IUCN South Asian Task Force and for range countries to develop and implement national plans for reviving vulture populations, including breeding them in captivity and releasing them back into their natural habitat. A workshop held in Parwanoo, Himachal Pradesh, India in February 2004 recommended establishing captive breeding facilities for three species of Gyps vultures at six different locations in South Asia. The workshop also advocated for banning the veterinary use of Diclofenac. These facilities would serve as a source from which to reintroduce the vultures once the cause of their decline in numbers is eliminated.

SOME OTHER WILDLIFE CONSERVATION PROJECTS • The Himalayan Musk Deer Ecology and Conservation Project, • Project Lion, • the Snow Leopard Project • several Pheasant Projects

SOME OTHER SCHEMES TAKEN FOR CONSERVATION OF WILDLIFE There are many management plans to conserve wild life such as: 1. The Indian Board of Wild life was set up in 1952, to ensure protection and scientific management of the diminishing wildlife in the country. 2.

Introduced in 1972, the Wildlife (Protection) Act is a national legislation aimed at enhancing wildlife protection and management. The Corbett National Park saw the initiation of ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973. Presently, there exists a tiger reserve encompassing 28% of the country’s total area, which equates to 1.5% overall. In 1980, the Forest (Conservation) Act was enforced to impose strict limitations on utilizing forestland for non-forest purposes.

Since 1983, the cutting of trees above 1000 m in hilly and mountainous regions has been banned to safeguard the fragile and undisturbed ecosystem. In addition, the number of national parks has declined from 19 to 95 since 1980, while wildlife sanctuaries have risen from 205 to 500. It is worth mentioning that three endangered species of crocodilians have been conserved thanks to the implementation of the crocodile project. Moreover, a national wildlife institute was established in 1982 with the aim of providing scientific training in wildlife management.

The former Prime Minister launched a national wildlife action plan in November 1983 to enhance wildlife management and administration. As part of this initiative, a new program was established to breed endangered species in captivity and assist in their rehabilitation. Presently, there are multiple national parks and sanctuaries dedicated to safeguarding endangered animals:

1. The Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in Sibasaa, Assam, covers an area of 430 sq.kms. It provides sanctuary for various wildlife such as rhinoceroses, elephants, wild buffalos, bison, tigers, leopards, sloth bears, and diverse bird species.

2. Spanning across an extensive area measuring 540 sq.kms., the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve is located in Kamrup District, Assam. This sanctuary serves as home to tigers,wild dogs,bears,rhinoceros,gaur,golden angur,and other species.

3. Occupying an area of 65 sq.kms., the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. Its primary focus lies on conserving rhinoceroses,gaur,eles,tigers,lions,different deer varieties,and numerous bird species.

4.The Kolameru Bird Sanctuary found in Tadepalligudem town of Andhra Pradesh plays a significant role as breeding ground for pelicans and other marine birds.Chilika Lake in the Chilika district of Orissa covers an area of about 100 and serves as a habitat for various avian creatures such as waterfowl ducks, carnes ospreys, golden plovers, sandpipers, stork curlews, and flamingoes. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is situated near Madras in Tamil Nadu and spans approximately 0.30 sq km. It is home to species like flamingoes, pelicans, black bucks, chitals (spotted deer), and wild boars. Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan is an important bird sanctuary that also supports a diverse range of animals including chital, sambar deer, mongoose, and wild boar. Point Calimer Wildlife Sanctuary located in Thanjavur,Tamil Nadu extends over 0.30 sq km territory housing several animals such as panthers,tigers,sambhars,larger deer,and chitals.Mundanthurai Sanctuary situated in Tirunelveli,Tamilnadu is renowned for its abundant wildlife population including elephants,gaur,sambar deer,leopards,Nilgirilangur monkeys,grey hornbills,and egrets.Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary located in Periyar Kerala provides shelter to various species like elephants,gaur(Indian bison),sambar deer,leopards,black nilgirillangur monkeys,grey hornbills,and egrets.Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan is well-known for its extensive bird population, comprising cormorants, spoonbills, white ibis, Indian darters, egrets, open billed storks, geese, ducks, Siberian cranes and various other species. This sanctuary also provides a habitat for certain mammal species such as deer, black ducks, pythopri snakes, blue bulls (wild oxen) and wild boars.

Palamau National Park located in Dattongunj West Bengal offers a natural environment for numerous animals including tigers,panters,sloth bears,gaur,chital deer,nilgar,chinkara deers,birds,reptiles,and chowsingha antelope.

Hazaribagh National Park in Hazaribagh Bihar is home to various creatures including wild boars,sambhar deer,nilgai antelope,tigers ,leopards ,hyenas,and gaurs.

Similarly,Similipal National Park in Similipal Orissa has a rich biodiversity with inhabitants like tigers ,elephants ,deer,chital deer ,peafowl,talking myna birds,sambhar deer,panters,gaurshyenas,and both bear species.

Guindy National Park in Madras Tamil Nadu is renowned for its albinos or black ducks and chitals.

Kanha National Park situated in Banjar Valley,Madhya Pradesh provides a suitable environment for various creatures including tigers,chital deer,panters,sambhar deer,and black ducks.

Tanoba National Park in Chandrapur is famous for its diverse wildlife which includes tigers,sambhar deer,sloth bears,barking deer ,blue bulls (Indian antelopes),chinkara deers,bisons,and pea fowls.The wide range of animals found in Corbett National Park in Nainital includes tigers, panthers, sloth bears, hyaenas, elephants, blue deers, barking deers, Indian antelope, porcupines, pecker barbets, crocodiles, pythons and more. In addition to this vast biodiversity, the park has also been credited with rediscovering extinct species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUNC) efforts to safeguard endangered animals are detailed on page 95 of “Tell Me Why: Endangered Animals,” with further information available on page 97.

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Conservation of Wildlife. (2016, Sep 15). Retrieved from

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