By Jessica Frei:
The dwindling wildlife of India has been a major source of concern for quite some time. The burden of deforestation, increasing population and alarming pollution has made the revival of the great Indian fauna a momentous task. But there are several measures that have been undertaken to help the fledgling wildlife and those have borne some great results. Setting up of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and secluded areas are just some of the most popular measures. But some small successes do not translate to victory. There are still several species that need immediate attention:
Tiger: The national animal of India is unfortunately on this list. The tiger, an ace hunter, has fallen on extremely hard times, so much so that its population has declined very rapidly. This carnivore is considered a prize game and during earlier era Kings and Nawabs used to go to hunt to capture or kill this animal. But the past does not differ from the present; the hunt for the animal is still on. The bones, skins and other organs of tiger are considered a major ingredient in several Chinese and Asian medicines and hence, illegal poaching is still a flourishing business. Add to it the man-animal conflict, inbreeding and even the territorial conflicts and it seems like a perfect recipe for a disaster. The government has started several conservation methods and setting tiger reserves in India is just one of the most popular ones. Some of the famous tiger reserves in India are Kanha, Periyar, Corbett, Bandhavgarh, Bandipur etc.
Rhinoceros: This is another animal that is facing the threat of extinction due to extensive poaching and loss of habitat. Although, in recent times, its numbers have increased steadily thanks to the conservation efforts, yet, illegal poaching means that the ultimate success is still far away. The poaching for one horned rhino or Indian rhino is usually undertaken to get its horn which is then used in traditional Asian medicines. Even the skin and bones of one horned rhino is used in several treatments in Asia. The threat to one horned rhino has led to the setting up of a special area on the lines of tiger reserves in India.
Elephant: The pachyderm is a celebrated animal in India with Hindu mythology and erstwhile Kings favouring it with aplomb. The major reasons for the extinction of this species can be traced to poaching for its tusks, man-animal conflict, loss of habitat and other incidents. The government has decided to set up special areas on the lines of tiger reserves in India and has announced an ambitious and detailed project, ‘Project Elephant,’ that would focus on protecting elephant populations in India. Launched in the year 91-92 this project covers twelve Indian states namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Asiatic Lions: Â This is another species that is slowly becoming a prey to human might and greed. There was a time when lions were found across the cow belt but gaming and poaching has reduced its number to just about a several hundred. Some rough estimates put the number to a measly 400, and it is a pity that this royal beast, erstwhile India’s national animal prior to the current national animal tiger, is seeing attacks on its survival even now. The government has pitched in to help this animal by setting up reserves on the lines of tiger reserves in India. Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuaries in Gujarat is the finest place for Lions in India.
Snow Leopards:Â Just like one horned rhino, this is another animal that is extremely shy and secretive. Though a ferocious carnivore it is extremely hard to locate his whereabouts and only the carcasses of his last eaten prey offer any conclusive proof of his presence. Rocky Mountains and hilly areas of Himalayan ranges is its home but due to deforestation, increase in human population and lack of food, this majestic animal is currently in an agonizing state. It is estimated that the current population of these wild cats is about 400-700, but this number is not certain. Several sightings of snow leopard have been claimed in the Hemis National Park and other adjoining areas. Unlike in the case of tiger reserves in India, where the area for tigers was clearly marked, unfortunately the same has not been achieved in the case of snow leopards.
The endangered species of India are in need of protective environment. Rehabilitation in zoological park is not viable as it makes animals dependent on humans for succour and it, in turn, harms them in relocating to their natural habitat. It is thus advised by conservationists that like in the case of one-horned rhino, the animals remain in their natural habitat but away from the prying eyes of humanity.