The vast and diverse landscape of India is embedded with a rich biosphere that is home to myriad species of flora and fauna. I believe that with the evolution of technology and infrastructural development in India, today, there is a perpetual conflict between India wildlife and humans. All told, we have undertaken several measures to protect the endangered animal species, yet the real estate and automobile sectors boom and poaching continues to be a danger.
Which animals are endangered in India?
Over the years, the Indian government has set up several wildlife conservation acts that have helped to increase the tiger population, but the future remains dark and the ugly truth is that tigers are one of the most endangered animals in India. There are only about 2,500 wild dogs left; Asian black bears that used to dominate the Himalayan region are now under threat; clouded leopards are hardly spotted in Arunachal Pradesh; and species like Gaur, Red Panda, Nilgiri tahr, Yak and Wild goat are soon going to be only in the pictorial chapters in the Indian wildlife books.
The question is why are wild beings on the verge of extinction and how can we protect our wildlife heritage? First, let us briefly glance at the major threats faced by wildlife in India before we discuss a jungle safari.
What are the threats faced by our wildlife?
The vast biosphere of India is not only home to several endangered species but also countless plant species that have medicinal value.
Firstly, if deforestation causes risk to animals at the same time we are also imperiling several plant species. Hence, deforestation due to industrialization is one of the major threats faced by the Indian wildlife.
Secondly, the tribes in India, who are largely dependent on hunting, pose a major threat to wildlife. We term their mode of livelihood as, “poaching”, which is mostly found in the tribal areas of Central India, North East India, and South India and includes some of the noted national parks like Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench in Central India, Kaziranga in North East India and Bandipur in south India.
Thirdly, it is us. Mankind is another big threat behind the extinction of innocent wild beings. When you participate in a wildlife safari in India, some of us forget that we are intruders. We try to tame several wildlife animals by offering them food and tease them just for the sake of fun. Even throwing objects like plastic bags, bottles and glasses affect the general hygiene of the environment.
Lastly, pollution – air, water, and sound, is another major factor that threatens wildlife in India. Factors such as an expansion of industrialization, chemical factories setting up close to the river banks and poor drainage system have become the key sources of risk to wildlife that also includes several bird species.
How can we protect our wildlife heritage?
The Indian Government has stepped up its several wildlife conservation efforts by releasing several wildlife conservation advertisements and programmes, making people aware of the fact that our wildlife heritage is under threat.
Further, we should also keep in mind that when we are on a jeep safari inside a national park we should follow the guidelines mandated by the forest authority, which include not to tame and feed animals, not to carry and throw plastic bags, bottles and glasses and most importantly, not to step out from the vehicle. Moreover, we don’t have any idea how to stop industrial development close to ecosphere zones but if this happens when a large number of endangered animals will be saved.
How to get involved in wildlife conservation efforts?
“Save the tiger”, which is a wildlife conservation project in Corbett, was introduced in the year 1973. Although the project helped the tiger population to rise from 268 in 1973 to 1,706 according to the 2011 census report carried by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, we still need to carry several such conservation acts for other endangered species.
Likewise, the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project that intends to transfer Asiatic Lions from Gir National Park, Gujarat, to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, will spur a new environment for the big cats. On the other hand, in the year 1992, the Indian government took a major step to safeguard the wild elephants against frequent human conflicts under Project Elephant. Similarly, the introduction of Project Hangul in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in the late 20th century, Indian Crocodile Conservation Project, Himalayan Musk Deer Ecology, and Conservation Project, Project Lion, the Snow Leopard Project and several Pheasant Projects are some of the notable wildlife conservation efforts by the Indian government.
Let me now brief some major steps that can be taken by us individually.
- Although it is a time-consuming task, several Indian schools and colleges can introduce the concept of volunteer programs in wildlife conservation, which includes patrolling to protect wildlife from poachers, providing care for the animals and assisting with outreach and educational activities. This helps to ensure ecological stability and wildlife diversity for years to come.
- Wildlife conservation campaigns and rallies are the best way to reach out to the public in large.
- Continued articles, advertisements, and campaigns by the Indian government to preserve wildlife in India were circulating over the years but it is now high time for us, individually, to take some steps and stand against the threats faced by the Indian Wildlife.
The human behavior is largely dependent on each other but today, if you take one step, your friend may follow you.
Gaur bull at Nagarhole National Park, India. Photo by Dinesh Kannambadi (Wikipedia Commons)