Conservation of the wildlife is a global concern today as the rate of wildlife depletion has increased alarmingly in last few years. Over-exploitation of natural resources & ecosystems, wildlife poaching, hunting, destruction of wildlife habitats are main reasons for wildlife depletion. For conserving the threatened wildlife, steps are taken at various levels like international, governmental, non-governmental, and individual. Wildlife can be best preserved by in situ conservation measures (conserving wildlife in their natural habitat). Declaration of Protected Areas (PAs) is one of the in situ conservation measure taken at the Government level in our country.
PAs are the preserved natural habitats of wildlife where specifically required habitats for the survival of wildlife species are protected. “Protected area” means a National Park, a sanctuary, a conservation reserve or a community reserve notified by the wildlife protection Act 1972. The definition of a protected area adopted by IUCN is An area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means.
Protected areas provide society with many benefits-habitats to help conserve biodiversity, natural laboratories for scientific research and knowledge generation; landscapes and seascapes that support local livelihoods and national development through tourism and fisheries; intact watershed areas that yield high-quality water supplies to support human agriculture and residential and industrial development; and recreation in more peaceful and pristine environments similar.
Protected areas include National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Tiger Reserves, Biosphere Reserves, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves.
National parks are highly protected by law. No human habitation, private landholding or traditional human activity such as firewood collection or grazing is allowed within the park. Sanctuaries are also protected, but certain types of activities such as collection of firewood and grazing of cattle are permitted within these areas.
A National Park is an area where the natural or historical objects of national significance are protected along with the wildlife therein, in such manner, and by such means, as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. The human activity is confined to management duties and controlled tourism, strictly enforced by law.
A Wildlife Sanctuary is a place where some rare, wild, indigenous mammals, birds, reptiles and any other form of wildlife are found in good numbers and represents a region that needs protection together with the natural environment. Human activities such as livestock grazing, collection of forest produce and tourism, within the sanctuary’s precincts are monitored by the chief Wildlife Warden.
Tiger Reserve: Project Tiger was launched by the Government of India with the support of WWF-International in 1973 to save the endangered species of tiger in the country. It was the first such initiative aimed at protecting this key species and all its habitats. Today there are 29 tiger reserves distributed throughout the country.
Biosphere Reserve: The programme of Biosphere Reserve was initiated under the 'Man & Biosphere' (MAB) programme by UNESCO in 1971. The purpose of the formation of the biosphere reserve is to conserve in situ all forms of life, along with its support system, in its totality, so that it could serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems. The first biosphere reserve of the world was established in 1979, since then the network of biosphere reserves has increased to 531 in 105 countries across the world (MAB, 2008).
Conservation Reserve: A biodiversity-rich area–calls for the formation of an advisory committee, called the Conservation Reserve Management Committee (CRMC); its role is to provide inputs to the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) on conservation measures. The CRMC includes representatives from the local village panchayat. However, the CWW remains the chief decision making authority, who could consult the CRMC in management of this area.
The State Government may, after having consultations with the local communities, declare any area owned by the Government, particularly the areas adjacent to National Parks and sanctuaries and those areas which link one protected area with another, as a conservation reserve for protecting landscapes, seascapes, flora and fauna and their habitat.
Community Reserve: A private- or community-owned area with conservation values, where the community has voluntarily engaged in wildlife conservation–calls for the formation of a self-regulated Community Reserve Management Committee. Comprised of community representatives and one representative from the concerned government department, this CRMC is responsible for conserving, maintaining, and managing the Community Reserve. The elected chairperson of the committee is the Honorary Wildlife Warden of the Community Reserve.
The State Government may, where the community or an individual has volunteered to conserve wild life and its habitat, declare any private or community land not comprised within a National Park, Sanctuary or a conservation reserve, as a community reserve, for protecting fauna, flora and traditional or cultural conservation values and practices.