Wildlife Conservation is the practising of protecting wild plant and animal species and their habitat. Wildlife plays an important role in balancing the environment and provides stability to different natural processes of nature. The goal of wildlife conservation is to ensure that nature will be around for future generations to enjoy and also to recognize the importance of wildlife and wilderness for humans and other species alike. Many nations have government agencies and NGO's dedicated to wildlife conservation, which help to implement policies designed to protect wildlife. Numerous independent non-profit organizations also promote various wildlife conservation causes.
According to the National Wildlife Federation(NWF), wildlife in the United States gets a majority of their funding through appropriations from the federal budget, annual federal and state grants, and financial efforts from programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. Furthermore, a substantial amount of funding comes from the state through the sale of hunting/fishing licenses, game tags, stamps, and excise taxes from the purchase of hunting equipment and ammunition, which collects around $200 million annually.
Wildlife conservation has become an increasingly important practice due to the negative effects of human activity on wildlife. An endangered species is defined as a population of a living species that is in the danger of becoming extinct because the species has a very low or falling population, or because they are threatened by the varying environmental or prepositional parameters.
Major dangers to wildlife
Fewer natural wildlife habitat areas remain each year. Moreover, the habitat that remains has often been degraded to bear little resemblance to the wild areas which existed in the past. Habitat loss due to destruction, fragmentation and degradation of habitat is the primary threat to the survival of wildlife.
- Climate change: Global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding heavier, hurricanes stronger and droughts more severe. This intensification of weather and climate extremes will be the most visible impact of global warming in our everyday lives. It is also causing dangerous changes to the landscape of our world, adding stress to wildlife species and their habitat. Since many types of plants and animals have specific habitat requirements, climate change could cause disastrous loss of wildlife species. A slight drop or rise in average rainfall will translate into large seasonal changes. Hibernatingmammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects are harmed and disturbed. Plants and wildlife are sensitive to moisture change so, they will be harmed by any change in moisture level. Natural phenomena like floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, lightning, forest fires.
- Unregulated Hunting and poaching: Unregulated hunting and poaching causes a major threat to wildlife. Along with this, mismanagement of forest department and forest guards triggers this problem.
- Pollution: Pollutants released into the environment are ingested by a wide variety of organisms. Pesticides and toxic chemical being widely used, making the environment toxic to certain plants, insects, and rodents.
- Over exploitation is the over use of wildlife and plant species by people for food, clothing, pets, medicine, sport and many other purposes. People have always depended on wildlife and plants for food, clothing, medicine, shelter and many other needs. But today we are taking more than the natural world can supply. The danger is that if we take too many individuals of a species from their natural environment, the species may no longer be able to survive. The loss of one species can affect many other species in an ecosystem. The hunting, trapping, collecting and fishing of wildlife at unsustainable levels is not something new. The passenger pigeon was hunted to extinction, early in the last century, and over-hunting nearly caused the extinction of the American bison and several species of whales.
- Deforestation: Humans are continually expanding and developing, leading to an invasion of wildlife habitats. As humans continue to grow they clear forested land to create more space. This stresses wildlife populations as there are fewer homes and food sources to survive off of.
- Population: The increasing population of human beings is the major threat to wildlife. More people on the globe means more consumption of food, water and fuel, therefore more waste is generated. Major threats to wildlife are directly related to increasing population of human beings. Low population of humans results in less disturbance to wildlife.
Wildlife conservation as a government involvement
In 1972, the Government of India enacted a law called the Wild Life (Protection) Act. In America, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects some U.S. species that were in danger from over exploitation, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) works to prevent the global trade of wildlife, but there are many species that are not protected from being illegally traded or being over-harvested. The World Conservation Strategy was developed in 1980 by the "International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources" (IUCN) with advice, cooperation and financial assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Wildlife Fund and in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)" The strategy aims to "provide an intellectual framework and practical guidance for conservation actions." This thorough guidebook covers everything from the intended "users" of the strategy to its very priorities. It even includes a map section containing areas that have large seafood consumption and are therefore endangered by over fishing. The main sections are as follows:
- The objectives of conservation and requirements for their achievement:
- Maintenance of essential ecological processes and life-support systems.
- Preservation of genetic diversity that is flora and fauna.
- Sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems.
- Priorities for national action:
- A framework for national and sub-national conservation strategies.
- Policy making and the integration of conservation and development.
- Environmental planning and rational use allocation.
- Priorities for international action:
- International action: law and assistance.
- Tropical forests and dry lands.
- A global programme for the protection of genetic resource areas.
- Tropical forests
- Deserts and areas subject to desertification.
As major development agencies became discouraged with the public sector of environmental conservation in the late 1980s, these agencies began to lean their support towards the “private sector” or non-government organizations (NGOs). In a World Bank Discussion Paper it is made apparent that “the explosive emergence of nongovernmental organizations” was widely known to government policy makers. Seeing this rise in NGO support, the U.S. Congress made amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act in 1979 and 1986 “earmarking U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds for biodiversity”. From 1990 moving through recent years environmental conservation in the NGO sector has become increasingly more focused on the political and economic impact of USAID given towards the “Environment and Natural Resources”. After the terror attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001 and the start of former President Bush’s War on Terror, maintaining and improving the quality of the environment and natural resources became a “priority” to “prevent international tensions” according to the Legislation on Foreign Relations Through 2002 and section 117 of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act. Furthermore, in 2002 U.S. Congress modified the section on endangered species of the previously amended Foreign Assistance Act.
Active non-government organizations
Many NGOs exist to actively promote, or be involved with wildlife conservation:
- The Nature Conservancy is a US charitable environmental organization that works to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.
- World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization working on the issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States. It is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 90 countries, supporting around 1300 conservation and environmental projects around the world. It is a charity, with approximately 60% of its funding coming from voluntary donations by private individuals. 45% of the fund's income comes from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- Wildlife Conservation Society
- Audubon Society
- Traffic (conservation programme)
- Born Free Foundation
- Save Cambodia's Wildlife
- WildEarth Guardians
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.
- ^Encyclopedia of World Geography By Peter Haggett
- ^"7 Rare and Exotic Wildlife Species that can be found in India".
- ^"Animals in Indian Sub-Continent".
- ^"Stephen et al., 2015 - Indian Biodiversity: Past, Present and Future, International Journal of Environment and Natural Sciences, Vol.7, 13-28"(PDF). Retrieved 2018-02-20.
- ^"CEPF.net - The Biodiversity Hotspots". www.cepf.net. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
- ^South India By Sarina Singh, Stuart Butler, Virginia Jealous, Amy Karafin, Simon Richmond, Rafael Wlodarski
- ^Biodiversity and its conservation in India By Sharad Singh Negi
- ^Explorations in Applied Geography By Dutt Misra & Chatterjee (eds.) , L R Singh, Ashok K Dutt, H N Misra, Meera Chatterjee
- ^ abIndira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Centre (IGCMC), New Delhi and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK. 2001. Biodiversity profile for India.
- ^K. Praveen Karanth. (2006). Out-of-India Gondwanan origin of some tropical Asian biota
- ^ abTritsch, M.E. 2001. Wildlife of India Harper Collins, London. 192 pages. ISBN 0-00-711062-6
- ^Groombridge, B. (ed). 1993. The 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. lvi + 286 pp.
- ^Luo, S.-J.; Kim, J.-H.; Johnson, W. E.; van der Walt, J.; Martenson, J.; Yuhki, N.; Miquelle, D. G.; Uphyrkina, O.; Goodrich, J. M.; Quigley, H. B.; Tilson, R.; Brady, G.; Martelli, P.; Subramaniam, V.; McDougal, C.; Hean, S.; Huang, S.-Q.; Pan, W.; Karanth, U. K.; Sunquist, M.; Smith, J. L. D., O'Brien, S. J. (2004). "Phylogeography and genetic ancestry of Panthera tigris". PLoS Biology. 2 (12): e442. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020442. PMC 534810. PMID 15583716.
- ^Jhala, Y. V., Qureshi, Q., Sinha, P. R. (Eds.) (2011). Status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India, 2010. National Tiger Conservation Authority, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. TR 2011/003 pp-302
- ^Pocock, R. I. (1939). "Panthera leo". The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. London: Taylor and Francis Ltd. pp. 212–222.
- ^Botanical Survey of India. 1983. Flora and Vegetation of India — An Outline. Botanical Survey of India, Howrah. 24 pp.
- ^Valmik Thapar, Land of the Tiger: A Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent, 1997.
- ^Krausman, PR & AT Johnson (1990) Conservation and wildlife education in India. Wild. Soc. Bull. 18:342-347
- ^ abSingh, Mahesh Prasad; Singh, J. K.; Mohanka, Reena (2007-01-01). Forest Environment and Biodiversity. Daya Publishing House. pp. 116–118. ISBN 9788170354215.
- ^Project Tiger Accessed February 2007
- ^Shashwat, D.C. (27 June 2007) "The Last Roar?", Dataquest Magazine, India.
- ^Vivek Menon (2003). A field guide to Indian mammals. Dorling Kindersley, Delhi. ISBN 0-14-302998-3.
- ^Threatened birds of Asia  Accessed October 2006
- ^The Nation, 6 March 2007
- ^Dolphin becomes India’s national aquatic animal
- ^UNESCO, Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list
- ^Fungi or Fungus Wikipedia Fungus
- ^Classification of Organisms Wikipedia Kingdom (biology)