Government of India and State Governments are also becoming conscious of the deteriorating wildlife situation and have acted towards creating sager zones to the wild life within the Reserve Forests by way of creating what are called ‘Protected Area’.
Elephant Safari, Indian WildlifeProtected area is a board term given primarily to National Parks and Sanctuaries meant for affording protection to wild animals and their habitat. They also include game reserves and biosphere reserves. Protected areas have been set up all over the world with the specific aim of protecting and conserving animals and plants. In India too these have been set up in various parts of the country.
The country’s first wildlife sanctuary was set up towards the close of the last century as the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary in Tamilnadu.
At the time of Independence there were only a few National Parks and Sanctuaries in India. In the year 1987, there were 54 national parks covering an area of 21,300 Sq.Km and 372 wildlife sanctuaries with 88,649 Sq.Km. Thus with the combined coverage of 109652sq.km about 3.3% of the total geographical area of the country has been accorded the status of protected areas. Wildlife and forests are state subjects under a single administration setup i.e., Forest Department of each State. The role of the Central Government 9 meaning the Government of India) is mainly advisory. Two developments have had a greater bearing on the status of wildlife conservation in different states. The first was the of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 as a unified piece of legislation. The legislation interalia requires the creation of the post of Chief Wildlife Wardens and Wildlife Wardens in the states to exercise statutory power under the Act. The states have to set up state Wildlife Advisory Boards, on the lines of the Indian Board for Wildlife as the apex advisory body to advise the State Government on the conservation of wildlife. The second is the inclusion of protection of wild animals and birds in the concurrent list of the union in the Constitution of India. This gives the Centre a degree of legislative control over the States in the conservation of wildlife.
Jeep Safari, Indian WildlifeThe Government of India have enacted comprehensive legislature in1972 called the Wildlife (Protection) Act for providing legal protection to the wildlife and to the endangered species of fauna in particular as the protection of wild animals and birds and their habitat assumed national importance. This was done at the time when forest and protection of wild animals and birds were under the State list. It has a provision of setting up National Parks and sanctuaries where wildlife can receive fullest protection. This act has been adopted by all the states except Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland. The former have enacted their own legislation largely on the same lines of the Central Act.
Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, the State Governments are empowered to declare any area as a sanctuary or a National Park for the purpose of protection, propagating, or developing wildlife their in or its environment.
Many protected areas have been created after the enactment of Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. It is aimed that at least 5% of the total geographical area of India should be set aside as protected area for best results so far as wildlife conservation is concerned.
Elephant, India WildlifeBut a committee appointed by the Government of India in 1984 has summarized that the protected areas notified are not well distributed across all states/biogeographic zones/provinces, and so some endangered animals are being protected in some special areas. It was also observed that these protected areas were selected on local consideration earlier rather than on sound ecological reasons. So, It has been suggested that the network of protected areas proposed should ensure adequate representation of all biogeographic regions in the country.
All National Parks and Sanctuaries are however not alike. Some of them have been created specifically to protect the rare and endangered species, notable among which are the Gir National Park and sanctuary for the Asiatic ion, Kaziranga National Park for the Rhinoceros, Dachigam Sanctuary for the Kashmir stage, Keibul Lamjo to the Brow antlered deer and Velavadar National Park for Black buck, point Calimer for Black buck and special Tiger reserves.
Creation of series of National Parks, Sanctuaries aim at wildlife conservation. Mere Constitution alone may not yield the desired result and achieve the expected goals unless they are backed by habitat improvement measures, breeding activities, special projects to save the endangered species from extinction, regulatory mechanisms by way of Acts and Rules, national and international attention and understanding, special management practices and funding.
Sanctuaries are accorded a lesser level of regulation, for in sanctuaries certain type of activities might be permitted not only for the better protection of wild life, but also for any other good sufficient reason. Not withstanding any anything contained elsewhere in this Act, no person shall hunt any animal in a sanctuary or remove there from any wild animal, whether alive or dead or any trophy, uncured trophy or meat derived from such animal;
Rhino, Kazhiranga National ParkProvided that if the Chief Wildlife Warden is satisfied that it is necessary to hunt or remove any wild life animal in a sanctuary. › For the better protection of wild life or
› For any other good and sufficient reason, he may, with the previous approval of the State Government, grant a permit authorizing any person to hunt or remove such wild animal under the direction of an Officer authorized by him or cause it to be hunted or removed. (Section29 (1) of the Act).
The Chief Wildlife Warden shall be authority who all shall control, manage and maintain all Sanctuaries and for that purpose, within the limits of any Sanctuary, › May construct such roads, bridges, buildings, fences or barrier gates and carry out such other works as he may consider necessary for the purpose of such Sanctuary; › Shall take steps as will ensure the security of the wild animals in the sanctuary and the preservation of the sanctuary and wild animals therein; › may take such measures in the interests of wildlife, as he may consider necessary for the improvement of any habitats. › May regulate, control or prohibit n keeping with the interests of wildlife. The grazing or , movement of cattle; › May regulate, control or prohibit any fishing. (Section33 of the Act).
Spotted Deer, Indian WildlifeThe act further says that “Wildlife” includes any animal, bees, butterflies, crustacea, fish and moths; and aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat (Section2 (37) of the Act).
The Act has laid down certain procedures for the setting up of National Parks and Sanctuaries with the following broad objectives. – To identify the extent and boundary of Park of Sanctuary. – To determine rights, if any, that exist within such an area (To be done by the Collector, or an officer appointed specially for the purpose by the State Government). – In the case of existing rights, to either compensate the owner of such rights, if the owner is agreeable or to acquire the land or such rights, where the owner is not willing to accept compensation voluntarily. – To exclude areas where unacceptable levels of disturbance exists, and where the disturbance cannot be satisfactorily stopped. – To allow the continuation of those activities which are considered acceptable. – To provide, for alternatives to public way, or a common pasture, ‘as far as may be practicable or convenient’ (Section 25(1) (f) of the Act).
Crocodiles, Indian WildlifeThe statutory provisions for setting up a National Parks and that of a Sanctuary are different. In respect of a sanctuary, an area is first declared as a sanctuary (Section 18 of the Act). Then other steps are followed to determine extinguish acquire or otherwise adjust rights (Section 19 to 26 of the Act). The activities that are considered compatible with the interest of wildlife protection are permitted. On the other hand, for National parks the intention to constitute an area into a National Park is first notified (Section 35 to the Act) and the rest of the procedures laid down for constitution of a sanctuary is followed and completed before declaring an area a National Park (Section 35 (4) of the Act).
Extension in areas to the existing National Parks and Sanctuaries are usually aimed at making existing areas more ecologically viable and provision for such alterations is made under Section 35(50 of the Act and for deletion under Section 24.2(a).
Thus it can be seen that as on July, 2000, a total area of 1,15,309.38 Sq.Km of area has been notified as 481 Wildlife Sanctuaries have been notified as protected areas in the country covering 3.51% of the total geographical areas.