Wildlife Resources in India – UPSC

In this article, You will read Wildlife Resources in India – for UPSC IAS (Geography).

Wildlife resources

  • Wildlife comprises animals, birds, and insects living in forests. With large regional variations in physiographic, climate, and edaphic types, Indian forests offer a wide range of habitat types that are responsible for a large variety of wildlife in India. India boasts of more than 80,000 species of animals which is about 6.5% of the world’s total species. Indian fauna includes about 6,500 invertebrates, 5,000 molluscs, 2,546 species of fishes, 2,000 species of birds, and 458 species of reptiles, 4 species of panthers, and over 60,000 species of insects.
    • The elephant is the largest Indian mammal which only a few centuries ago, was found in large numbers in vast forest tracts of India. There are about 6,000 elephants in the forests of Assam and West Bengal, about 2,000 in Central India, and nearly 6,000 in three southern states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
    • The one-horned rhinoceros, India’s second-largest mammal was once found throughout the Indo-Gangetic Plain as far west as Rajasthan, The number of this mammal has drastically deceased and now there are less than 1,500 rhinoceroses in India, confined to the restricted locations in Assam, West Bengal and UP. They survive under strict protection in the Kaziranga and Manas sanctuaries of Assam and the Jaldapara sanctuary of West Bengal.
    • The Arna or wild buffalo is found in Assam and in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh.
    • The gaur or the Indian bison is one of the largest existing bovine and is found in the forests of Central India.
    • The fourth cycle of the Tiger Census 2018 counted 2976 tigers which is 75% of the global tiger population. Tigers in India mainly found in the forests of eastern Himalayan foothills and in parts of peninsular India. The number of Cheetahs had fallen to less than one hundred until a successful breeding program in the Gir sanctuary in Gujarat resulted in some recovery. The arboreal clouded leopard is found in northern Assam while the Black Panther is a widely distributed predator.
    • Asiatic lions living in Gujarat’s Gir forests, with their population going up from 523 in 2015 to 674 in 2020.
    • Brown, Black, and Sloth Bear are found at high altitudes in the north-western and central Himalayas.
    • Yak, the ox of snow, is largely found in Ladakh and is tamed to be used as a draught animal.
    • Stag or Barasingha is found in Assam, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Besides these, several species of monkeys and langur are found in almost all the forest areas of India.
  • The Chinkara or the Indian gazelle, the blackbuck or the Indian antelope, the nilgai or the blue bull, the mouse deer or the Indian chevrotain, the chawstaga or the four-horned antelope, wild dog, the fox, the jackal, and the hyena, are the other mammals found in the Indian forests.
  • India also abounds in the number of reptiles, although many of them are now endangered species. There are more than 200 species or subspecies of snakes, the best known being the Cobra, Krait, and Russel’s Viper. These are poisonous snakes while Dhaman is a non-poisonous large snake.
  • The Blunt Nosed or Marsh Crocodile (the Magar or Mugger) and the long-nosed Gharial are important large-sized reptiles, although their number has drastically reduced. The Big Estuarine Crocodile is still found from the Ganga to the Mahanadi.
  • India is extremely rich in birdlife. There are about 2,000 species of birds in India which is about three times the number of species found in Europe.
  • Some birds such as ducks, cranes, swallows, and flycatchers migrate from central Asia to the wetlands of Bharatpur(Keoladeo National Park) every winter. Recently, some migratory birds have been seen near Mathura.
  • Indian bird-life has all the varieties of birds which includes:
    • Aquatic birds include a large variety of storks, herons, ducks, flamingoes, egrets, and cormorants.
    • Ground birds (Gallinaceous birds): The Great Indian Bustard, peafowl, jungle fowl, quail, and partridge are the main ground birds.
    • Arboreal birds (tree-dwelling): mynas, pigeons, parakeets, doves, cuckoos, rollers, beaters, etc. are other important birds.
wildlife resources in india map

Preservation of Wildlife

  • Indian Board for Wildlife was constituted in 1952. The main purpose of the board was to advise the Government on the means of conservation and protection of wildlife, construction of national parks, sanctuaries, and zoological gardens as well as promoting public awareness regarding conservation of wildlife.
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 is a comprehensive law that has been adopted by all states. It governs wildlife conservation and the protection of endangered species. The Act prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
  • Project Tiger, one of the premier conservation efforts in the country was launched in 1973. It is a centrally financed scheme under which 51 Tiger Reserves have been set up in 18 states. India now has as many as 2,967 tigers in the wild (Census 2018), with more than half of them in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, according to the latest tiger estimation report for 2018. The population of tigers has increased by 33% since the last census in 2014 when the total estimate was 2,226. The fourth cycle of the Tiger Census 2018 counted 2976 tigers which is 75% of the global tiger population.
  • Project Elephant was launched as a centrally sponsored scheme in February 1992. According to recent reports, the elephant population in India is demonstrating a stable trend across elephant reserves in India. The population of elephants in the year 2012, was estimated at 31,368 while it had fallen to 27312 in 2017. The elephant population of India was 27,682 in 2007. The average population throughout the period was about 26700.
  • Crocodile Breeding Project– This project was initiated on April 1, 1974, and the project began on April 1, 1975, in Odisha. Crocodile husbandry work was undertaken with a view to sanctuary development.
  • The National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) provides the framework of strategy as well as the program for the conservation of wildlife. The first National Wildlife Action Plan of 1983 has been revised and a new Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) has been adopted. The Indian Board of Wildlife is the apex advisory body overseeing and guiding the implementation of various schemes for wildlife conservation.
  • National park is a relatively large land or water area which contains representative samples and sites of major natural regions, features, scenery, and/or plant and animal species of national or international significance and is of special scientific, educational and recreational interest. Usually, the national parks contain one or several entire ecosystems that are not materially altered by human exploitation or occupation. National parks are protected and managed by the government in a natural or near-natural state. Visitors enter under special conditions for inspirational, educational, cultural, and recreational purposes.
  • Wildlife Sanctuary is more or less similar to a national park which is dedicated to protecting wildlife and concerned species. A wildlife sanctuary is an area constituted by the competent authority in which killing and capturing of any form of wildlife is prohibited. Grazing or movement of livestock is regulated. The chief warden is authorized to allow or disallow entry into the sanctuary or construction of roads, buildings, fences, etc. Hunting is also restricted and strictly regulated. The status of Wildlife sanctuary is equal to the IUCN category IV protected area.
  • Biosphere Reserves. A biosphere reserve is a unique and representative ecosystem of terrestrial and coastal areas which are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) program. The objectives of the Man and Biosphere Program (MAB) are as follows:
    • Conservation function: to conserve genetic resources, species, ecosystems, and landscapes
    • Development function: to promote sustainable human and economic development.
    • Logistic support function: to provide support for research and analyzing the issues of conservation and sustainable development.

Measures of conserving wildlife

  • The following measures can prove effective tools for conserving wildlife:
    • Ban on hunting should be strictly implemented.
    • More national parks and wildlife sanctuaries should be established.
    • Existing national parks and sanctuaries should be further developed and more amenities should be provided in them.
    • Captive breeding of wildlife should be encouraged.
    • Adequate medical facilities should be provided in national parks and sanctuaries for the wildlife so that their health is improved.
    • Proper conditions should be created for the living and breeding of wild fauna in the national parks and sanctuaries.
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shashi bhushan

Thanks sir

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