Protected areas in India

Wildlife Sanctuaries –

  • IUCN Category IV protected areas
  • Sanctuary is an area set aside for the conservation, protection and management of wildlife and its habitat
  • India has 515 animal sanctuaries referred to as wildlife sanctuaries
  • Many National Parks were initially wildlife sanctuaries
  • Divisions –
  • Wildlife sanctuaries
  • Tiger reserves – 48 tiger reserves are governed by Project Tiger
  • Bird sanctuaries
  • Prohibitions –
  • destruction or damage, exploitation, weapons, hunting and grazing are all prohibited except by, or under the direction or control of, the reserve authorities
  • Human settlement and other human activities are restricted and prohibited
  • Declaration –
  • The State Government may, by notification constitute any area as a sanctuary other than an area comprised within any reserve forest or the territorial waters
  • No alteration of the boundaries of a sanctuary shall be made except on a resolution passed by the Legislature of the State.

National Parks –

  • IUCN Category II Protected Areas
  • A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes
  • India’s first national park was Hailey National Park, now Jim Corbett National Park, established in 1935
  • Prohibitions –
  • hunting , killing or capturing of fauna
  • deprivation of any wild animal of its habitat
  • destruction and collection of flora
  • weapons
  • grazing [of any live-stock] shall not be permitted
  • Declaration of National Parks –
  • Whenever it appears to the State Government that an area, whether within a Sanctuary or not is, by reason of its ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological or Zoological association or importance, needed to be constituted as a National Park for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wild life there in or its environment, it may, by notification, declare its intention to constitute that area as a National Park.
  • No alteration of the boundaries of a National Park shall be made except on the resolution passed by the legislature of the State

Biosphere Reserves

  • Dealt separately

Reserved and Protected forests –

  • IUCN Category IV or VI, depending on protection accorded
  • Reserved forests and protected forests are declared by the respective state governments.
  • These are forested lands where logging, hunting, grazing and other activities may be permitted on a sustainable basis to members of certain communities.
  • Typically, reserved forests are often upgraded to the status of wildlife sanctuaries, which in turn may be upgraded to the status of national parks.
  • Restrictions
  • In reserved forests, explicit permission is required for such activities.
  • In protected forests, such activities are allowed unless explicitly prohibited.
  • Thus, in general reserved forests enjoy a higher degree of protection with respect to protected forests.

Conservation Reserves –

  • IUCN Category V Protected areas.
  • Protected areas which act as buffer zones or migration corridors between national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved and protected forests of India.
  • Such areas are designated as conservation areas if they are uninhabited and completely owned by the Government of India but used for subsistence by communities.
  • Tiruvidaimarudur Conservation Reserve (2005) is the first conservation reserve to be established in the country by a village community to protect the birds nesting in their village
  • Rajasthan government has “Jawai Bandh forests” as a conservation reserve forest

Community Reserve –

  • IUCN Category VI protected areas
  • Protected areas which act as buffer zones or migration corridors between national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved and protected forests of India.
  • Such areas are designated as community areas if part of the lands are privately owned
  • Administration of such reserves would be through local people and local agencies like the gram panchayat.
  • Community reserves are the first instances of private land being accorded protection under the Indian legislature
  • Tiruppadaimarathur Conservation reserve near Chennai, declared in 2005, is the first Community Reserve in the country.

National Green Tribunal

About –

NGT was established by a Government Notification vide powers of Section 3 of the NGT Act 2010.

  • Objectives –
  • To provide effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to.

Environment protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources

Including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment

  • Giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property etc.
  • Circuit benches (Green benches) are established across the country to try all matters to and arising out of environmental issues.

Organization –

  • Members –

A full time chairperson

  • Qualification
  1. Judge of the Supreme Court
  2. Chief Justice of a High Court
  • Appointment
  1. Appointment by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

10 to 20 full time judicial members

  • Qualification
  1. Judge of the supreme court or
  2. Chief Justice of a High court or
  3. Judge of a High court
  • Appointment
  1. Appointment on the recommendations of selection committee.
  • Terms –
  • Chairperson, Judicial Member and Expert Member hold office for 5 years
  • Maximum age of the chairperson is
  1. 70 years in case of Supreme Court Judge
  2. 67 years in case of High Court Judge

Jurisdiction of NGT –

  • National Green Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases where a substantial question relating to environment is involved.

National Wildlife Action Plan

About –

  • The first National Wildlife Action Plan (NWAP) was adopted in 1983.
  • The decision was taken in the XV meeting of the India Board for Wildlife held in 1982.
  • The plan had outlined the strategies and action points for wildlife conservation.
  • The first National Wildlife Action Plan of 1983 has been revised and the new Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) has been adopted.

Overview –

  • The term wildlife encompasses all uncultivated flora and undomesticated fauna.
  • Effective ecosystem conservation is the foundation of long-term ecological and economic stability.
  • Water, wilderness and wildlife are irrevocably interlinked and their continued existence is crucial for the long-term survival of the biodiversity and the ecosystems supporting them.
  • India ranks sixth among the 12-mega biodiversity countries of the world
  • Conservation of biodiversity is directly with conservation of ecosystems and thus with water and food security.

Strategy for Action –

  1. Strengthening and Enhancing the Protected Area Network.
  2. Effective Management of Protected Areas.
  • Conservation of Wild and Endangered Species and Their Habitats.
  1. Restoration of Degraded Habitats outside Protected Areas
  2. Control of Poaching, Taxidermy and Illegal trade in wild animal and plant species.
  3. Monitoring and Research
  • Human resource development and personnel planning
  • Ensuring Peoples’ Participation in wildlife conservation
  1. Conservation Awareness and Education.
  2. Wildlife Tourism
  3. Domestic Legislation and International Conventions
  • Enhancing Financial Allocation for Ensuring Sustained Fund Flow to the wildlife sector.
  • Integration of National Wildlife Action Plan with Other Sectoral Programmes.

Marine Protected Areas

About –

“MPA” is an umbrella term for protected areas that includes some area of marine landscape and /or biodiversity.

  • It aims to protect and conserve the natural marine ecosystems in their pristine condition.
  • Establishment –
  • Traditionally, the Marine Protected areas have been established by individual nations.
  • The World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 called for the establishment of MPAs in consistent with international laws by 2012.

MPAs in India –

  • India has around 8,000 kms of coastline with two island systems, viz, the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep
  • India also has 2,305,143 Km2 of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
  • There a total of 31 MPAs in India which cover less than 4.01% of all protected areas in India
  • India has 5 designated Marine Protected Areas –
  1. Gulf of Mannar National Park, Tamil Nadu
  2. Gulf of Kutch Marine National Park, Gujarat – First national marine park of India
  3. Gulf of Kutch Marine Sanctuary, Gujarat
  4. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
  5. Gahirmatha Sanctuary, Orissa
  • The marine and coastal environment of India harbours a host of resident and migratory wildlife
  • Important species found here include, Dugongs, Whales, Dolphins, Olive Ridley Turtles, a variety of fishes etc.

Indian Vulture Crisis

Crisis –

Three endemic vulture species Gyps bengalensis, Gyps indicus and Gyps tenuirostris became critically endangered.

  • Cases –
  • Diclofenac a common anti-inflammatory drug administered to livestock is responsible for the crisis.
  • It was widely used in India beginning in the 1990 which was fatal to vultures- caused kidney failure in vultures
  • Alternative –
  • A replacement drug was quickly developed and proposed after tests on vultures in captivity: meloxicam
  • Miloxicam affects cattle the same way as Diclofenac, but is harmless for vultures

Vultures in India –

  • There are 9 species of vultures in India
  1. White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis)
  2. Red Headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus)
  3. India vulture (Gyps indicus)
  4. Slender billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)
  5. Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
  6. Bearded vulture(Gypaetusbarbatus)
  7. Indian Griffon vulture(Gyps fulvus)
  8. Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis)
  9. Cinereous vulture(Aehypius monachus)
  • Why India had large vulture populations?
  • The Hindu culture in India is particularly favourable to vultures
  • Hindus do not eat cows, which they consider sacred.
  • When a cow dies, it is not eaten by humans, but by vultures.

Importance of Vultures –

  • Vultures constitute India’s optimal natural animal disposal system, processing carcasses even in cities.
  • Without vultures –
  • Carcasses will pile upon the fields degrading the environment
  • Drinking water has become seriously contaminated due to rotting of carcasses in water bodies.
  • Population of other species, such as rats and wild dogs will increase
  • Cultural problems –
  • for the decreased Parsi to reach heaven, vultures serve as intermediaries between earth and sky
  • The dead body is placed on a Tower of Silence where vultures, by consuming the body, liberate the soul

Government Initiatives –

  • Vulture Safety Zones –
  • Targeted awareness activities surrounding 150 km radius of vulture colonies.
  • NO Diclofenac or other veterinary drugs are found in cattle carcasses
  • Zones –
  • The zone between Uttarakhand to Nepal, which spans from Corbett to Katriya Ghat has been earmarked as vulture safe zone.
  • Dibrugarh in Assam to North Lakhimpur in Arunachal Pradesh is also conserved as a vulture safe zone
  • In central India Chattisgarh is declared as vulture safe zone
  • The wildlife wing also plans to declare a safe zone in Vidarbha

Vulture Restaurants

Vulture restaurant is a place where fresh and toxin-free carcasses of domestic livestock or wild mammals are put out for vultures

  • Process
  • People inform the forest department in case of the death of an animal in their village.
  • The forest department then tests the dead animal for toxins such as Diclofenac.
  • Then buys it from the owner and transports it to the vulture restaurant. Rs 250 per dead cow or bull
  • vulture restaurant is a cost-effective way of disposing of carcasses that are unfit for human consumption
  • vulture restaurants operate in a number of countries, including Nepal, India, Cambodia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Spain
  • There are around 7 vulture restaurants in India

Captive Breeding Centres

  • vulture Breeding and conservation centres at –
  • Pinjore, Haryana in 2001
  • Rani, Guwahati (Assam) 2005
  • Buxa, West Bengal, 2005

Facts –

  • The drug Diclofenac was taken off the market in India on March 11, 2006
  • but is still available in certain parts of India
  • Diclofenac manufactured for human consumption is sometimes used as substitute for veterinarian applications
  • Most affected species –
  • Gyps species seem to be the vultures most affected by Diclofenac
  • The population of the White-rumped vulture fell 99.7% between 1993 and 2002
  • The populations of the Indian vulture and the slender-billed vulture fell 97.4%
  • The first Saturday in September of every year is observed as International Vulture Awareness Day.

Project Elephant

About –

Elephant Project was launched to provide financial and technical support of wildlife management efforts by states to protect wild Asian Elephants.

  • Project Elephant was launched in 1992 by the Govt. Of India Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • The project aims to conserve the elephant in their natural habitats by protecting their habitats and migration corridors
  • Status of elephants in India –
  • Elephant our national heritage animal.
  • Elephant live in 16 of the 29 states in the country and is showing an increasing trend across its distributional range
  • Its population in 2012 was estimated to be between 27,785 and 31,368
  • It is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Act, 1972
  • It is also included in Appendix I of the convention on International Trade in Endangered species of flora and fauna(CITIES)
  • The main goals of the Project –
  • Ecological restoration of exiting natural habitats and migratory routes of elephants.
  • Promotion of measures for mitigation of man elephant conflict in crucial habitats.
  • Development of scientific management planning for conservation of elephant habitats and visible elephant populations
  • Moderating impact of human and domestic stock activities in crucial elephant habitats
  • Strengthening of measures for protection of wild elephants from poachers and unnatural causes of death.
  • Eco-development of elephant habitats
  • Provide improved veterinary care for elephants
  • To have more tusked elephants

Implementation –

  • The project is being implemented in 13 states/UTs
  • Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal
  • Elephant reserves –
  • 28 Elephant Reserves (ERs) extending over about 58,000 square kilometres(22,000 sq mi) have been formally notified by various state governments
  • Elephant corridors –

Corridors comprise the unprotected lands between fragments of protected areas.

  • These areas are increasingly human dominated, resulting in high levels of human-wildlife conflict
  • Securing the corridors involves voluntarily relocating of local communities outside the conflict zones to safer areas, with their own land improved housing.
  • It would also have great conservation value, preventing further fragmentation of the continuous forest habitat by encroachment form urban areas
  • There are 88 identified elephant corridors in India.

North east India tops the list with 22 corridors

Only 24 per cent of the corridors are under complete forest cover

  • Fragmentation of the corridors
  • Fragmentation is severe in northern West Bengal followed by north western India, north-eastern India and central India respectively.
  • The last fragmentation is noted in south India
  • Cases
  • Development activities
  • Poaching for ivory
  • Coal mining and iron ore mining

Other Initiatives –

  • MIKE –
  • Project Elephant has been formally implementing MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants) programme of CITIES in 10 ERs since January 2004
  • It monitors and records the illegal or poaching of elephants
  • Elephant – 8(E8) –
  • Eight countries with the largest number of elephant met in New Delhi to plot new strategies to protect the animal.
  • These 8 countries two-third of the world’s wild elephant population.
  • The countries include Botswana, Congo, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Sre Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.
  • Discussions covered
  1. science and conservation
  2. Management and conservation
  3. Cultural and Ethical perspectives