Here is an essay on the ‘Initiatives for Wildlife Conservation in India’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on the ‘Initiatives for Wildlife Conservation in India’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Wildlife Conservation
- Essay on the Introduction to the Initiatives for Wildlife Conservation in India
- Essay on the Conservation of Wildlife
- Essay on the Conservation Strategies
- Essay on the Important Indian Wildlife
- Essay on the Project Tiger
- Essay on the Project Lion (Gir Lion Project)
- Essay on the Project Elephant
- Essay on the Crocodile Breeding Project
Essay # 1. Introduction to the Initiatives for Wildlife Conservation in India:
India is rich in various biogeographical provinces, ranging from the cold deserts of Ladakh and Spiti to the hot deserts of Thar, temperate forests in the Himalayas to the lush green tropical rain forests of the low lands. India has also large freshwater bodies such as Wular and Manasbal lakes in Kashmir, Chilka lake in Orissa and Kolleru lake in Andhra Pradesh and the rugged and rich coastline and coral reefs of Deccan.
Protected Areas are ecological/biogeographical areas where wildlife is conserved. Their habitats and natural resources are conserved and poaching is prevented. They are delimited to protect biological diversity. They are cold desert (Ladakh and Spiti), hot desert (Thar), wetland (Assam and N.E. States), saline swampy areas (Sunderbans, Rann of Kutch), mangroves, temperate forests, subtropical forests, tropical forests, tropical wet evergreen forests, tropical moist deciduous forests, tropical deciduous forests, tropical thorn, coral reef, etc. Protected Areas include national parks, sanctuaries and biosphere reserves.
1. National Parks:
They are strictly reserved areas meant for the betterment of the wildlife. They are reserved for improvement of wildlife. In them cultivation, grazing, forestry operation and habitat manipulation is prohibited.
In them protection is given only to the fauna (animals) and harvesting of timber, collection of MFP and private ownership rights are permitted, but interference with the well-being of animals is not allowed. Here wild animals can take refuge without being hunted. Here collection of forest products, harvesting of timber, private ownership of land, tilling of land, etc., are allowed. Sanctuary is declared by the State Government under Section 18(1) of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, whereas National Park is declared under Section 35(1) of the Act.
In sanctuary the boundary is demarcated at the time of declaration. In national park boundary is well-defined and accurate.
3. Biosphere Reserves:
Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) of the UNESCO evolved the concept of Biosphere Reserves. In biosphere reserve, multiple land use is permitted designating various zones.
(i) Core zone in which human activity is not permitted. All forestry and harvesting operations are prohibited and even entry is restricted. Only population studies and scientific investigations are allowed.
(ii) Buffer zone in which limited human activity is permitted. Here no shooting is allowed, but no professional graziers are allowed to establish cattle pens. Camping for tourists are allowed.
(iii) Manipulation zone in which large number of human activities is allowed, but ecology is not permitted to be disturbed.
In a biosphere reserve, wild population, traditional tribals and varied domesticated plant and animal genetic resources are protected.
India has identified 14 areas as Biosphere Reserves. Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve includes parts of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It was declared in 1986.
(iv) Restoration zone is a degraded area for restoration to near natural form.
4. Safari Park:
An enclosed park where wild animals are kept uncaged in the open providing natural habitat for viewing to the public.
An area set aside for exhibiting the wild animals kept in cages and artificial enclosures. Here animals’ freedom is restricted.
6. Zoological Garden:
A place where a large number of mammals, birds, reptiles, fishes, etc., are shown in a confined area in or near a city. Animals are usually kept in small enclosures or in cages. It is used for recreation and education of the public.
7. Zoological Park:
It is a zoo where animals are comparatively free and are shown in the natural surrounding with barriers and restrictions hidden from view. It is best located on the outskirts of cities where enough land is available.
8. Sanctum Sanctorum:
It is a sanctuary within the sanctuary or inner portion of a wild sanctuary or national park in which no forest operation or management is allowed. Even visitors are not allowed to prevent any kind of disturbance to wildlife.
Essay # 2. Conservation of Wildlife:
The management of human use of the biosphere so that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to present generation and to maintain its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations is called the conservation. It is scientific management of wildlife to maintain it at its optimum level.
The conservation of wildlife is directly related to healthy and better forests. Wildlife conservation includes protection, preservation, and perpetuation of rare species of plants and animals in their natural habitats.
Conservation of living resources has three specific objectives:
1. To maintain essential ecological processes and life supporting systems.
2. To preserve diversity of species.
3. Sustainable utilisation of species and ecosystems which support rural communities and major industries.
Essay # 3. Conservation Strategies:
For wildlife conservation and its propagation, proper management techniques should be employed. Sanctuaries, national parks, biosphere reserves, projects, etc., have been created for exclusively protecting the wild flora and fauna in India as well as in other countries of the world. Scientists of 100 countries of the world have evolved comprehensive “World Conservation Strategies” for the judicious use of resources.
To save the existing species of wildlife they proposed some steps which are as follows:
1. Efforts should be made to preserve the endangered species. Species that are sole representative of their family or genus should receive special attention. Endangered species should be given priority over a vulnerable one, a vulnerable species over a rare one and a rare species over other categories.
All the threatened species should be protected. Priority be given belonging to monotypic genera, endangered over-vulnerable, vulnerable over rare and rare over other species.
2. Wildlife should be protected in their natural habitat in situ and in zoo and botanical gardens (ex situ). The threatened species should be conserved in situ as well as in ex situ.
3. Identify the habitats of wild relatives of the economically valuable and useful plants and animals and preserve them in protected areas like sanctuaries, national parks and biosphere reserves.
4. The critical habitats of the species like feeding, breeding, nursery and resting areas should be protected (safeguarded).
5. In case of migratory or wide ranging animals, protected areas should be established to preserve their habitats.
6. For migratory or wide ranging animals, pollution and exploitation of the environment along their migration routes should be controlled.
7. Unique ecosystem (national parks and biospheres) should be protected as a matter of priority.
The national protection programmes have to be coordinated with international programmes like biosphere reserve programme of UNESCO. Man and Biosphere Project and National Parks and Protected Areas of International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
National Wildlife (Protection) Act was enacted in India in 1972. Wildlife protection strategies were formulated in India in 1983. Biosphere reserves have also been put into practice since 1986. Wildlife Institute of India is located at Dehradun (Uttaranchal). Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL) was established in 1952.
8. The productive capacities of exploited species and ecosystems have to be determined and their utilisation should not exceed from those capacities.
9. International trade in wild plants and animals has to be regulated by appropriate legislative and administrative measures.
India is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).
Smt. Indira Gandhi (Late Prime Minister of India) addressed in her inaugural speech of World Conservation Strategies in 1980. She said that Indian tradition teaches us that all forms of life – human, animal and plant – are so closely interlinked that disturbance in one gives rise to imbalance in the other … Nature is beautifully balanced. Any disturbance creates a chain reaction which may not be visible for some time.
Essay # 4. Important Indian Wildlife:
The science of zoogeography has both ecological and historical aspects and the two are intimately interwoven. Animals and plants are living indicators of the characteristics of their environment. Their ranges mark the places in which environmental conditions are the same or similar. The evolution and distribution of species throws light upon the geological evolution of various parts of earth and upon the course of global changes in climate and vegetation.
Based mainly on historical-cum-geographical factors, Philip Lutley Schaler (1825-1913) and Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) have divided the world into six zoo-geographical regions, namely- Neoarctic, Palaearctic, Ethiopian, Oriental, Australian and Neotropical. India is of recent origin and it is a part of Oriental region. North Indian fauna during tertiary period were mastodons, eleven species of elephants, Siwalik bison, buffalo, ox, tamarau as well as the recent African animals like hippopotamus, giraffe, chimpanzee, rhinoceros and four-horned ruminant Sivatherium.
Area was covered with savannah and woodlands. Asiatic lion, striped hyaena and antelopes can be the relics of the past. The dhole, most endangered top predator, is on the edge of extinction. Less than 2500 members of species are alive in the world. From Siwalik were discovered fragments of jaw of Ramapitheus (primitive hominid ape).
India has three sub-regions on the basis of physiography and climate:
a. Himalayan mountain systems which has three distinct sub-zones:
(i) Himalayan foothills (from eastern frontiers of Kashmir to Assam),
(ii) High altitudes in the Western Himalayas (from Kashmir including Ladakh to Kumaon), and
(iii) Eastern Himalayan sub-region.
b. Peninsular-Indian sub-region which shares the animals of North Africa, such as lion, cheetah, leopard, hyaena, jackal and antelopes.
c. Indo-Malayan sub-region (Tropical evergreen forests) has similarities with Indian, Malayan and Indo-Chinese fauna. This sub-region contains red panda, gibbon, tree shrew, tapir, giant squirrel, and flying lemur.
1. Lion (Panthera Leo Persica):
It is gregarious carnivorous animal. It prefers open scrub forest mixed with thorny deciduous forest. The temperature of its habitat should not be more than 45°C in summer and not below 5°C in winter. It is found only in Gir forest of Gujarat State as well as in the whole Asian continent. Its habitat should be improved to raise the carrying-capacity for the prey species to meet the full demand of lion.
For herbivorous prey species, there should be total control in grazing of the livestock. Moghul emperor Jahangir was fond of hunting male lions and tigers. Col. Smith during Sepoy Mutiny in India in 1857 killed 300 lions of which 50 were from Delhi alone. By 20th century, the lions population was only 15. The last lion was killed at Anadra and Jaswantpura (Rajasthan) in 1876. Gir Lion Sanctuary Project was started in 1972. Due to conservation measures, lion population increased gradually to 250 in 1977.
2. Indian Tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris):
Tiger is a solitary carnivorous animal having apparent territory. It is nocturnal predatory inhabiting dense forest such as thorny forest, dry and moist deciduous forest, evergreen and semi-evergreen forest. For raising its population, pasture lands should be improved for raising the carrying-capacity of the habitat for herbivorous preys.
Since 1972, tiger has been declared India’s National Animal. In the beginning of 20th century tiger population was about 40,000. In early 1970s their population was reduced to about 1800 due to unrestricted killing for skin, flesh and fat, etc. Indian tiger census conducted in 2008 showed their existence of only 1411 tigers. To save them from extinction, Project Tiger was started on April 1, 1973, by the Government of India with the help of W.W.F. (Worldwide Fund for Nature). Today there are 39 Project Tiger wildlife reserves in India covering an area of 37,761 sq. km.
3. Elephant (Elephas Maximns):
It is found in plains and hilly forest up to 1500 metre elevation. It needs a lot of water for drinking and bathing, so there must be perennial river, lake, etc., in the habitat. Its food is bamboo and grass, which should be in sufficient quantity. An adult elephant needs about three quintals green fodder daily. It is distributed throughout India except Madhya Pradesh, Andhra and Maharashtra. Generally only the males have large tusks, which are the extension of second pair of incisors. Canines and all incisors have lost.
Lengthened nose and upper lip forms the trunk. In some males, tusks are no longer than females (a few inches long) and called tuskless or Makhana. Elephants have very poor sight, but smell and hearing are acute. Limbs are pillar-like. Toes are embedded in a common mass of foot and encased in a common skin.
Their position is indicated externally by broad flat nails which may be fewer than the number of toes. Project Elephant started in 1992 which works for elephant protection. Elephants in India are trained for hunting, transportation, processions, travelling, visiting wildlife parks and sanctuaries, etc. Periyar wildlife sanctuary situated in Kerala having an area about 777 sq. km., was established in 1940 for elephant and other wildlife.
4. Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros Unicornis):
It inhabits forest having marshy land and tall grasses. It feeds on grasses and also water-hyacinth. In 1904, only about twelve rhinos were left in Assam and fewer in North Bengal. In the past they were found extensively in river Indus plain and Ganges in northern India. Temur killed several of them on the frontiers of Kashmir. Babar also hunted rhinos in different parts of northern India.
Wanton hunting and decrease of natural habitat eliminated them in western part of India and now they are restricted in Nepal, Assam, etc. Its flesh and blood are offered as libation in Nepal. Urine is supposed to be antiseptic and is hung in a vessel at the main door as a charm against ghosts, evil spirits and diseases.
Rhinos are poached and killed for their horn which is a strong aphrodisiac and an antidote for poison. In Kaziranga National Park, Sibsagar/Nowgong district (Assam) about 1,654 rhinos is found. They are also transferred in Dudhwa Sanctuary in Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh. The species stands on the verge of extinction and needs strict protection.
5. Gaur or Indian Bison (Bos Gaurus):
It is gregarious, shy and largest animal of the family Bovidae. It lives in dense forest having meadows. It is also found in hilly areas below 1500 to 1800 metre height. It also needs sufficient water in its habitat. Bison is confined in India, Myanmar, and Malaya. In Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh they are found in jungles north of river Narmada. Few bisons are also found in Bandipur (Karnataka).
Both sexes of bison possess horns. They feed on coarse grasses, leaves and bark of certain trees. Bisons live in herds and breed in cold weather. Gaur is distributed in western ghats southwards from South Maharashtra, hill-forests of central and south-eastern Peninsula and West Bengal, Myanmar and Malay Peninsula. Gaur has the habit of visiting “salt-licks” spots where the ground is impregnated with salts and other minerals.
6. Wild Buffalo (Bubalus Bubalis):
It is distributed from east of Assam (plane of Brahmaputra), eastern portion of Tara, Midnapur and Orissa. They are also found in forests of Bastar, Balaghat, Mandla and Raipur districts. They like large grass plains and plenty of water. Wild buffalo is larger in size than the tamed buffalo and black in colour. Its horns are black, triangular and large. Adult buffalo weighs about 800 kg. They live in herds of 8 to 15 animals. Breeding starts in autumn.
There are three important species of bear- Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Himalayan black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus) and brown bear (Ursus arctos).
Sloth bear is widely distributed in India, found in the forests from Himalayan foothills to Sri Lanka and Assam. Its long hairy coat is black or black-brown in colour. There is a white V-shaped breast mark. Nails are white. It is nocturnal in habit and feeds on honey, insects and fruits. At the time of hunger, it takes carrion. Sloth bear shares habitat of tiger and elephant.
Himalayan black bear is found in forests of Himalayas up to 3,000 metre height. Its hairy black coat is shorter and smoother than the sloth bear. V-shaped breast mark is white or yellowish. Nails are black. It is carnivorous and kills sheep, goat, fowl and even cattle, though its main food is honey and fruit. It is nocturnal in habit and climbs the trees. It hibernates in winter.
Brown bear is found in Himalayas above the tree line (treeless mountain areas). It is large and heavy having hair coat of reddish brown colour. It mainly feeds on grass, roots, insects, fruits and grain but also eats meat of goat, sheep, cattle and fowl.
8. Black Buck (Antilope Cervicapra):
It is called Indian antelope, lives outside the forest in herds. It is gregarious and male has its territory. It is found in 13 states of India but the largest number is found in Rajasthan. About 10,000 are found in Jodhpur district. In Thar desert in Taal Chhaper Sanctuary in Churu about 1400 live in 7 sq. km. Black buck is found in 8 wildlife sanctuaries and nearly 14 other areas in Rajasthan. Black buck prefers open grassy fields and is dependent on water. It is not found in arid areas. Black buck is not found in Jaisalmer, parts of Bikaner and parts of Jodhpur with less than 200 mm annual rainfall. It feeds on small grasses.
9. Cheetal (Axis Axis):
Sambhar (Cervus unicolor), Four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis). Cheetal lives in moist deciduous forest, evergreen and thorny forests. It feeds on grasses, leaves, flowers and fruits.
Sambhar lives in open dry deciduous forest, and also found in dry and moist deciduous forest and evergreen forest. It is the largest among all deer species. It lives in small herds.
Four-horned antelope prefers dry and bushy savannah but also lives in open grassy field near the forest. It is solitary animal and generally lives in pair.
Cheetal and sambhar both are prey of top carnivore.
10. Swamp Deer/Barasingha (Cervus Duvauceli):
It is found in open grassy lands with marshy lands. Its habitat should have sufficient water. It lives in marshy tracts of Tarai and Duars from northern parts of upper Gangetic plains east to Assam. Its other subspecies (C. d. branderi) thrives on the open grassy land of Madhya Pradesh. They are now mostly confined to the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
11. Musk Deer (Moschus Moschiferous):
Himalayan musk deer is a small primitive deer, was widespread throughout Himalayas from Pakistan, through India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Tibet and South-west China. Its head is dark grey with slight orange-brown patches above and below the eyes with white tipped ears. Throat is whitish around a central grey oval patch. Along the back, pelage is dark grey or brown, becoming orange-brown around the anal region. Male deer lacks antlers but possess tusks (canines of upper jaw) for fighting. A unique feature of this is presence of musk gland in male, which is chiefly responsible for its decline.
The gelatinous, brown musk secreted by preputial gland has been used in medicines and cosmetics for centuries. Its cost now is 40,000 to 59,000 U.S. Dollar per kg., in the international market. Its habitat destruction due to destruction of forest for livestock, timber and fuelwood is the main cause for the decline of species. The species was listed as vulnerable in Red Data Book. IUCN and WWF Project was launched with the cooperation of India to conserve the musk deer. The project is based in Kedarnath Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh.
12. Indian Crocodiles:
In India, there are three species of crocodilians such as:
(i) The Mugger or Freshwater Swamp Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris). It has average adult size of 3.5 metres, inhabiting rivers, pools, ponds, village tanks, lakes, swamps and reservoirs.
(ii) The Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). It grows more than 7 metres and is restricted to the coastal mangrove area in the saltwater (sea).
(iii) The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). It is the sole living member of the family Gavialidae. It has unique long snout. It has large size of more than 7 metres. It is a fish-eating, riverine species found in large rivers such as Ganga, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, Kosi, Gandak, etc., of North Indian Himalayan-fed river system.
Once abundant in all the major rivers and even ponds, they are among threatened animals today. Their population declined because of uncontrolled and all-season hunting for skin, flesh and sport. Loss of habitat due to construction of dams, diversion of rivers and human interference were other factors. In the wake of declining population, ‘Save the Crocodile’ projects were launched in 1974 under the guidance of Dr. H.R. Bustard as the chief technical adviser.
13. Great Indian Bustard (Aredotis Nigricaps):
It is one of the rarest birds of the world. In mid-1980s, bustard population was estimated to be between 500 and 1500, of which half of the birds surviving in Rajasthan. Bustard survived in nearly 200,000 sq. km. of the Thar desert. Surveys of 1993 and 1994 indicate that bustard numbers have almost half in the whole Rajasthan. In mid-1980s survey of bustard indicated that it is found in Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Pali, Jalore, Ajmer, Bhilwara, Tonk, Kota and Sawai Madhopur (11 districts). Bustard is distributed from central Punjab to central Tamil Nadu, western Orissa into eastern Pakistan.
Great Indian Bustard is under Schedule 1 of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Rajasthan Government has declared it as State Bird.
Bustard population decreased due to the development of 649-km Indira Gandhi Nahar Project (IGNP). It has resulted in expansion of agriculture, land colonisation, development of new towns and their expansion and change in natural vegetation due to extensive plantation of exotic trees, Shooting also played a major role in decimation of bustards of the Thar desert.
Bustards live in flocks. It was listed as globally threatened in 1966. During last 10 to 12 years the bustard population has crashed in many areas and now the total population could be as low as 500. It is extinct in Karera and Sorsan bustard areas.
Bustard is about one metre tall with long sturdy yellow legs without hind toe. Its plumage is dull brown above and white below. One male lives with 3 to 5 hens. It feeds on arthropods, lizards, snakes, mice and also grains and young shoots of plants. Their breeding season is from July to October and lay one or two eggs.
14. Common Peafowl (Pavo Cristatus):
It is also called peacock and in Hindi “Mor” or “Mayur”. It is found throughout India up to 1650 metres in Himalayas. It displays sexual dimorphism, male has a gorgeous occellated tail feathers, which are not found in female bird. The bird is not threatened but it is the National Bird of India.
Green Peafowl (Pavo Muticus):
It was distributed widely from north-east India to southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. It is not found in Malaysia and Bangladesh. It has declined rapidly and now occurs in fragmented, greatly reduced populations. In India it is restricted to far north-eastern states in a very reduced number. Its number is declining due to hunting for meat, exploitation for trade and persecution by farmers, habitat conversion to farmland. It is a vulnerable species and receives legal protection in India and also in other countries.
Rufous-Necked Hornbill (Aceros ripalensis) is found in mountainous regions between eastern Nepal and Vietnam. It is now absent from or very rare in this range, but still occurs in southern China, north-eastern India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. In India, it has been recorded in West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim. Recently it has been scarce in West Bengal and Assam and perhaps disappeared from its previous range. It is threatened by the combination of habitat loss and hunting.
Narcondam Hornbill (Aceros Narcondami):
It is found in Narcondam, a small area of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. In 1972 their number was 400, while in 1998 their number reduced to 295 to 320 birds. Its population is susceptible to climatic disasters and disease. The primary threats arise from establishment of police outpost on the island manned by 17 persons in 1969. In 1976 police introduced pairs of goats which increased to 130-150 in 1998 and further increased to 250 due to which natural woodland regeneration is reduced.
Each year at least 10-12 live standing trees are cut down for fuelwood and for poles to make fences to check goats not to enter the vegetable plots. Hunting for meat was also a threat to these birds. It is also listed in Schedule 1 of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Narcondam Island has been protected since February 1977 as a wildlife sanctuary.
Essay # 5. Project Tiger:
Tiger is our National Animal. It is found in diverse habitats and in different parts of the country. Tiger is at the apex position as top carnivore of the complex food-chain in most of our forest ecosystems. Over the years, the over-exploitation of the forest areas, merciless hunting, unscientific management, etc., reduced the habitat of tiger as well as leading to a rapid decline has, therefore, been in India not only as effort to save an endangered species but also with equal importance as a means of preserving biotopes.
Project Tiger has been inspired by such an approach. The Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL) set up a Task Force for studying the condition of tiger population and its status. On the recommendation of this Task Force, Project Tiger was initiated a Central Sector Scheme in 1973 with 9 Tiger Reserves (total area: 13,017 sq. km.) located in different habitat types in 9 different states, but two more reserves have since been subsequently added to it constituting 11 Tiger Reserves in 10 different states of the country (total area: 15,800 sq. km.). But this number is not last and increasing always.
The main aim of the project was to conserve and improve the natural habitat of the tiger under different habitat types. The management practices and strategies in the reserves are controlled in such a way that all the limiting factors of habitats are removed. The steps to be taken in this direction are intensive anti-poaching drive, fire prevention, elimination of cattle-grazing, soil conservation, water management, eradication of weeds, non-interference by human activities, relocation of human habitation and so on.
The project started initially as a Central Sector Scheme and expenditure incurred by the States was provided by the Central Government till 1979-80. After this, the project had been given the status of Centrally Sponsored Scheme and the Centre and States are sharing cost on a 50:50 basis. The Worldwide Fund for Nature and Natural Resources (WWF) is also extending financial and technical help.
Essay # 6. Project Lion (Gir Lion Project):
The lion stands as top carnivore in the food-chain of the ecosystem. The Indian race of lion (Panthera leo persica) is found only in the Gir Forest of Junagarh district in the Saurashtra peninsula of Gujarat State in whole Asian continent and, hence, also called “Asiatic Lion”. Another race of lion (Panthera leo) is found in Africa and called “African Lion”.
Today the Asiatic lion is restricted only in the Gir Forest of Gujarat State. Even in this very forest; due to merciless hunting, conversion of forest into agricultural land, uncontrolled cattle-grazing and spreading of infectious diseases through them, pressure of maldharis inside the forest, etc., hampered the habitat of this magnificent creature too much and subsequently declined its population reaching to the endangered stage.
Observing the situation of Gir Forest, it was discussed at the technical session of International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in New Delhi in November, 1969 towards the conservation of Asiatic Lion and its habitat. A number of wildlifers and ecologists all over the world were consulted in 1972. The State Government gave guidelines to Forest Department for the management of this project.
The guidelines of the project were implemented in the same year. The area of sanctuary was increased from 1265.1 to 1412.12 sq. km., in 1974. The central core-zone of the sanctuary covering area of 258.71 sq. km., was declared as National Park. Many other fruitful and effective practices were done. Through the practical practices, approaches, marvelous results were achieved and the population of lion began to increase year after year.
Essay # 7. Project Elephant:
The project was started officially in 1991-92 but launched in 1993 by the Central Government to afford protection to the elephant. The census of elephant stated in 1993.
Now-a-days, two species of elephants are found:
(i) Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus) and
(ii) African Elephant (Loxodonta africana).
Indian elephant is comparatively smaller than the African and its pinna is also smaller. Indian elephants are distributed in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
Elephants were extensively used as beast of burden, as transportation vehicle, and so on. In spite of these, they have been hunted for their tusks as ivory materials and export also. Hence, elephant catching was popular and an economic operation. As a result, its population declined very sharply.
Protection of the elephant began with the Elephant Preservation Act of 1987. To make more effective, Elephant Project was started for protection and propagation of the animal.
Through the project, habitat should be managed in such an effective manner that the elephant may take shelter peacefully inside the jungle which is its natural habitat, and in this way, we can check their hindrance, invasion, migration, etc., towards the village and agricultural-fields. By managing the habitat in good and scientific way providing the sufficient facilities, the animal will be bound to live properly in their natural-home without harming and killing the man and destroying the crops, which is happening now-a-days often giving much tension and worry to our society and the government.
Essay # 8. Crocodile Breeding Project:
In India, there are three species of crocodilians such as:
(i) The Mugger or Freshwater Swamp Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris). It has average adult size of 3.5 metres, inhabiting rivers, pools, ponds, village tanks, lakes, swamps and reservoirs.
(ii) The Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). It grows more than 7 metres and is restricted to the coastal mangrove areas in the saltwater (sea).
(iii) The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). It is the sole living member of the family Gavialidae. It has unique long snout. It has large size of more than 7 metres. It is a fish eating riverine species found in large rivers such as Ganga, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, Kosi, Gandak, etc., of the North Indian Himalayan-fed river systems.
Crocodiles have catastrophically declined worldwide in the post-war period largely as a result of sophisticated hunting methods for their hides by the luxury leather market. The problem continued around poaching and destruction of the remaining crocodile resource by fishery activities either direct or indirect, lethal effect of set nylon nets being used in fishing, disappearance of habitat of the sand-banks (which is essential for gharial nesting) replaced by concrete embankments, loss of riverine-habitats by dam-construction for irrigation or hydroelectric schemes. As a result, these crocodilian species came on the verge of extinction.
Crocodile hunting is now legally banned in India. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 lists both species of crocodile and gharial under Schedule I which affords total protection at all times. Similarly, Export I Instruction No 46/73 forbids the export of crocodiles and gharials, their hides or products therefrom.
Project Crocodile Breeding and Management was started as the report given by FAO expert, Dr. H.R. Bustard in 1974, stating “only management will restore the crocodile quickly and it appears that without management, the gharial will become extinct”. The actual project was started on April 1, 1975 in Orissa. Gharial eggs were collected and hatched for the first time in captivity anywhere in the world at Tikerpada, District Dhenkanal, Orissa, in June 1975. A small batch was also hatched at Kukrail near Lucknow the same year.
The Tikerpada hatched gharials were successfully reared for subsequent release back into the wild. At the same time, a Saltwater Crocodile Project was initiated in the tidal mangrove forests at Bhitar Kanika, District Cuttack, Orissa, and a Mugger Project and a Captive Breeding Project were also initiated, the latter for capitive-breeding of all three species was located at Nandankanan Biological Park, Orissa. All these projects were started by the Government of India under the help and guidance of FAO and UNDP. The Head Office of the Project is at Hyderabad.
The project has main functions such as:
(i) Conservation and Management of Crocodiles and Development of Sanctuary;
(ii) Rehabilitation of Crocodiles.
Conservation and Management of Crocodiles and Development of Sanctuary:
For the conservation of crocodile/mugger, their eggs are collected and hatched and reared in sanctuaries and released in rivers after attaining proper length of 1.2 metre. With the development of husbandry centres, steps have been taken to gazette and manage sanctuaries in ideal habitat areas for all three crocodilian species into which individuals were reared in. The various husbandry centres could be released when they attain a length of 1.2 metres.
The first sanctuaries to be gazetted in the country were Satkoshia Gorge Sanctuary and Bhitar Kanika Sanctuary, both in Orissa, Tristate Chambal Sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh-Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh and the Katerniaghat Sanctuary in northern Uttar Pradesh (Uttaranchal). With the exception of Bhitar Kanika, declared for the saltwater crocodile, these sanctuaries were all for gharial, which due to its critically endangered status, was given prime attention during the early stages of the project.
The management of sanctuaries is, of course, a long-term task, but immediate steps were taken to try to cut down disturbances which resulted in the loss of many animals (for instance, fishing with nylon gill-nets was immediately banned in all four sanctuaries mentioned above), to implement protection and to make a start on implementing management plans (the first of which was ready in December, 1980).
Young crocodiles of size 1.2 metre are released into ideal areas of the natural habitat in small batches in early spring. Selected areas are specifically managed in the sanctuaries. This includes following cares- (a) Location of release-ideal habitat areas should be located where they will be free from disturbances, (b) Timing of release-it is important that the release be carried out at a time when water levels are low so that the young crocodiles can gain an intimate knowledge of their future home-range prior to the onset of the monsoon floods. The ideal time in South India is early February, this may be delayed by 4-6 weeks in the extreme North of the country.
Rehabilitation of Crocodiles:
Crocodiles breed in the end of winter. In the end of March or in the first week of April, the pregnant female makes 10-15 circular ditches of radius 30 – 50 cm in the sand of the river’s bank. Out of these 10-15 ditches, she lays whole of its eggs in one ditch and covers all the ditches by sands. The aim to construct more than one ditch is to protect the eggs from predators like jackals, etc. At a time, the female lays up to 100 eggs. Male and female crocodiles also watch the ditch in the night. Under the effects of heat and moisture of the Sand, the embryos develop and hatch in 60-70 days (incubation period) duration.
The timing of hatching of youngs from the eggs is acknowleded by the female by hearing special sound emitted by them. On hearing such sound, the female takes out the youngs by removing sand of the ditch. The young are removed by the female from the unhatched eggs also by breaking it. After this, the female brings the youngs into water keeping them on its back and looks after them till the next breeding season. But even after taking so much care, large number of youngs are eaten by fishes, jackals, birds and crocodiles themselves and very less number of youngs survive in nature.
Gharial rehabilitation started in 1977 with release of 26 individuals into Mahanadi river, Orissa. By January, 1980, 107 individuals had been released into Mahanadi where the wild population had been reduced to 5 individuals. 3 individuals were also released in Rajasthan in a trial release in October, 1977. Large scale releases by Uttar Pradesh (into the National Chambal Sanctuary) commenced in May, 1979, and between then and late March, 1980, 185 were released. The total number of gharial released by the end of March, 1980, totalled 324.
(ii) Saltwater Crocodile:
The first saltwater crocodile release occurred in Bhitar Kanika Wildlife Sanctuary, also in Orissa, on April 27, 1977. By January, 1980, a total of 125 had been introduced into this one sanctuary. The total release up to May, 1980, including 40 released in West Bengal and 3 in Andhra Pradesh, was 168.
The first release of Indian mugger took place on February 7, 1977, with 4 individuals being released at Ethipothalla, Andhra Pradesh. This group has now been strengthened to 8 individuals and a further 33 have been released into Kinnersani Wildlife Sanctuary of Andhra Pradesh (March, 1980). On March 9-10, 1979, 130 were released in Tamil Nadu followed by 47 on May 29, 1979, hence, a total of 218 individuals have been introduced.