Wildlife of India – Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation
To save the endangered species of animals, Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation are being implemented with international cooperation (WWF, UNDP, UNEP, and IUCN) as well as on a stand-alone basis.
Some of the Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation are –
- Project Tiger
- Project Elephant
- Project Rhino
- Project Crocodile or Crocodile Breeding Program
- Project Hangul
- Project Snow Leopard etc.
We have already discussed about the Project Tiger and Project Elephant in Previous post (To read that post click here). In this post we will learn about some other Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation.
Indian (One Horn) Rhino Vision 2020 – (IRV 2020)
- One horned rhinos are poached for their horns.
- Indian rhino vision 2020, a Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation, is being implemented by the Department of Environment and Forest Assam, in partnership with Bodo Autonomous Council.
- The program is supported by WWF – India, the international rhino foundation (IRF), US fish and wildlife service and a number of local NGOs.
- IRV 2020 aims to increase the total rhino population in Assam to 3000 by 2020. The population of rhinos are to be distributed in various rhino habit in at least 7 protected areas in order to provide a long-term sustainable population of one-horned Indian rhino species.
Translocation of Indian Rhinos under the Program
- Translocations are the backbone of the IRV 2020 program.
- The goal set was to populate the potential rhino habitat areas identified viz. Manas National Park, Dibru Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, Laokhowa – Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary with a viable population of rhino through translocations from Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Manas National Park was selected as the first site for translocation of rhinos. 10 Rhinos have been released in the Manas National Park since 2008. The Rhinos have been radio-collared for their tracking and anti-poaching camps have been set up in the park. However, despite efforts poaching has been a threat for Rhinos in the Manas National Park.
- Bura chapori wildlife sanctuary was another site where the rhinos have been translocated from the Kaziranga National Park on 29th of March 2016.
Need For Translocation
- Around 80% of Indian rhino population is concentrated in the Kaziranga National Park. Concentrating large number Indian rhino species in a single protected area exposes them to risks of epidemics, floods, poaching and other threats.
- Moreover, the rhinos in the Pobitora National Park have exceeded their carrying capacity and their numbers have to be reduced in order to avoid rhino human conflicts.
- Translocating rhinos will help to create a viable population of this threatened species.
- Rhinos are large herbivorous animals, and they shape the landscape and environment, and hence they are known as keystone species.
- By eating only certain kinds of grass and trampling on the dense vegetation the rhinos affect the smaller herbivorous of their area creating a cascading effect which in turn affects the other species.
- Concentrating so many rhinos in a single protected area like Kaziranga exposes the species to risks of calamities (epidemics, floods, massive poaching attempts).
- Further, rhinos in Pobitora have exceeded carrying capacity and numbers must be reduced to protect the habitat and to mitigate the increasing rhino-human conflicts.
Threats for Indian Rhino Species
- The habitat of Indian Rhino once included the regions of Pakistan, Northern India, modern day Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar. However, loss of large tracts of rhino habitat and its large-scale poaching for its horn, which are believed to have medicinal properties has been responsible for its extinction in all other countries except in India and Nepal.
- By 1900 there were only 100 to 200 Indian rhinos in the world. With conservation efforts, the current Indian rhino population has reached over 3500. However, threats against the rhinos have not vanished. Eg. – Recent incidents of poaching in the Manas National Park where the rhinos where translocated.
- Other threats to the rhino population includes Diseases and natural disasters. in the Bura Chapori wildlife sanctuary, The death of rhinos could be due to some disease which is a cause of concern.
- Man-animal conflict at the Pobitora national park and Kaziranga National Park can also become a major threat for the rhino population.
Indian Crocodile Conservation Project
- This Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation was initiated on April 1, 1974 and the project began on April 1, 1975 in Odisha.
- Several measures to conserve the salt water crocodile (crocodylus porosus) and the freshwater crocodile (crocodylus palustris) known also as the Indian mugger besides the gharial were taken up.
- The project included an intensive captive rearing and breeding program intended to restock depleted Gharial habitats.
- The Indian Crocodile Conservation Project has pulled back the once threatened crocodilians from the brink of extinction and place them on a good path of recovery.
- Crocodile husbandry work was undertaken with a view to sanctuary development.
- 16 Crocodile rearing centers were developed by 1978 out of which 11 have been declared as Sanctuaries under the project.
- Two largest sanctuaries are – Krishna Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh and The Chambal Sanctuary, a tristate statuary in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- To protect the remaining population of crocodilians in their natural habitat by creating sanctuaries.
- To rebuild natural population quickly through ‘grow and release’ or ‘rear and release’ technique.
- To promote captive breeding.
- To build up a level of trained personnel for better continuity of the project through trainings imparted at the project-sites and through the erstwhile Central Crocodile Breeding and Management Training Institute, Hyderabad.
- to take-up research to improve management; and
- To involve the local people in the project intimately.
- Captive breeding means that members of a wild species are captured, then breed and raised in a special facility under the care of wildlife biologists and other expert.
- Bringing an animal into captivity may represent the last chance to preserve a species in the wild.
- To take-up research to improve management.
- To build up a level of trained personnel for better continuity of the project through training imparted at project-sites and through the (erstwhile) Central Crocodile Breeding and Management Training Institute, Hyderabad.
- To involve the local people in the project intimately.
- Habitat alteration and destruction: A combination of land-use changes and exploitation such as sand-mining, riverside agriculture, livestock grazing, and hydrological modifications such as building of dams for water diversion.
- Prey depletion: Over harvesting of fish stocks. Construction of dams and barrages obstructing dispersal and migration of fish.
- Direct mortality: Drowning of Gharial in fishing nets. Its nest destruction and local egg collection.
- Pollution and siltation: Pollution and siltation of rivers damage fish stocks, and are also believed to be the direct cause of the catastrophic die-off of 2007-2008 in the Chambal.
- Hunting: In the past, Gharial was hunted for skin, trophies and use in indigenous medicine.
Sea Turtle Project
- A significant proportion of world’s Olive Ridley Turtle population migrates every winter to Indian coastal waters for nesting mainly at eastern coast.
- With the objective of conservation of olive ridley turtles and other endangered marine turtles. Ministry of Environment & Forests initiated the Sea Turtle Conservation Project in collaboration of UNDP in November, 1999 with Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun as the Implementing Agency.
- The project is being implemented in 10 coastal States of the country with special emphasis in State of Orissa.
- The project has helped in
- preparation of inventory map of breeding sites of Sea Turtles,
- identification of nesting and breeding habitats along the shore line, and
- migratory routes taken by Sea Turtles,
- development of guidelines to safeguard and minimize turtle mortality,
- development of national and international cooperative and collaborative action for Sea Turtle Conservation,
- developing guideline plans for tourism in sea turtle areas and
- Developing infrastructure and human resources for Sea Turtle Conservation.
- One of the important achievements have been demonstration of use of Satellite Telemetry to locate the migratory route of Olive Ridley Turtles in the sea and sensitizing the fishermen and State Government for the use of Turtle Exclusion Device (TED) in fishing trawlers to check turtle mortality in fishing net.
- This program has successfully implemented and has contributed in capacity building of wildlife staff as well as training of community representatives including women. It has also helped in preparation of micro-plans for 8 villages in the protected areas and initiating the same in other 20 villages.
- It has brought general awareness among the people for the wildlife conservation and have sensitized them for the wildlife conservation which would ensure long term conservation of biodiversity.
- The project has helped in
Project Snow Leopard
- Snow leopards (Panthera uncial) belong to the family of cats called Felidae. The snow leopard is a globally endangered species. Merely 7,500 are estimated to be surviving over two million square kilometers in the Himalaya and Central Asian mountains.
- Most snow leopard occur in China, followed by Mongolia and India.
- Project snow leopard, launched in 2009 with the ultimate goal of safeguarding and conserving India’s unique natural heritage of high altitude wildlife and their habitats by ensuring their conservation and welfare through the participation of local population and through supportive actions of government.
- The project stresses on a landscape approach to conservation wherein smaller core zones with relatively conservation values will be identified and conserved with support and the larger landscape will be managed in such a way that it allows necessary development benefits to the local communities.
- The project thus places greater importance to careful and knowledge-based management planning of the landscapes.
- It includes all the biologically important landscapes in the high altitude Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
- The Ladakh region of India is setting an example for the protection of snow leopards. The estimated snow leopard population is around 400 in Ladakh. The wildlife department by taking the help of local communities and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been successful in preventing the man-animal conflict and have discouraged the Killing of snow leopard in this region.
Protected areas for the Snow leopard
- Sacred Himalayan Landscape
- Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary at Lahaul Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
- Pin Valley National Park at Lahaul Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
- Great Himalayan National Park at Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
- Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary, near Anini, Arunachal Pradesh
- Hemis National Park, in Ladakh- Jammu and Kashmir
Aim and Objectives of Project Snow Leopard
- Promoting a knowledge-based adaptive conservation strategy which fully involves the participation of local communities who share the snow leopard habitat in the conservation and protection efforts under project snow leopard.
- Conserving India’s unique natural heritage of high altitude wildlife by promoting conservation, protection and management through the participatory policies and actions.
Threats to snow leopards
- Loss of Habitat and species: there have been concerns over loss of Habitat and prey species in the mountainous areas due to anthropogenic actions. Overgrazing has damaged the high altitude grasslands which have left less food for the Prey species of snow leopard such as wild goats and sheep.
- Retribution killings: as the snow leopard Habitat lacks a sufficient number of prey species, snow leopard has increasingly being adapted to prey on domestic livestock. This has led to man-animal conflict.
- Poaching of snow leopards: snow leopards are hunted for their fur and skin. The bones and other body parts of snow leopards are used in traditional Asian medicines, which led to poaching.
- retreating deeper into mountains due to global warming
- Other anthropogenic activities: other activities such as tourism, construction of roads, human settlement in the snow leopard habitat also poses a great threat to the snow leopards.
Why to conserve the high altitude ecosystem?
- The high altitudes of India (> 3000 m) (including the Himalaya and Trans-Himalaya biogeographic zones) support a unique wildlife assemblage of global conservation importance.
- This includes highly endangered populations of species such as the snow leopard, two species of bears, wolf, red panda, mountain ungulates such as the wild yak, chiru, Tibetan gazelle, Tibetan argali, Ladakh urial, two species of musk deer, the hangul, three species of goral, serow, and takin, etc.
- India has ratified international agreements promoting the conservation of high altitude wildlife species such as the snow leopard. The representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Forest played an important role in elevating the conservation and protection of snow leopard at international level.
- In 2003, the Convention on Migratory Species included the snow leopard as a Concerted Action Species under its Appendix I.
- Similarly, in 2003, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) expanded the scope of the CITES Tiger Enforcement Task Force to include all Asian big cat species including the snow leopard.
- Hangul or Kashmir red stag is a subspecies of the elk native to India. Kashmir stag is mainly found in the dense riverine forests of Kashmir Valley and the northern Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh.
- Hangul lives in the groups of around 2 to 18 individuals in the riverine forests, high valleys and mountains in Kashmir and the northern Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh.
- The Kashmir red stag is found in Dachigam National Park at elevations of 3,035 m, Sindh Valley, Rajparian wildlife sanctuary, Overa Aru wildlife sanctuary and in forests of Kistwar and bhaderwah.
- The Hangul is the only surviving species of the Asiatic member of the red deer family.
- It is the state animal of Jammu Kashmir, and the Kashmir stag IUCN status is of a critically endangered species.
Conservation of Hangul
- It has been listed under Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978. It also has been listed among the top 15 species of high conservation priority by the Central Government.
- In the 1970s, the Jammu Kashmir Government with the support of IUCN and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) prepared a Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation of the Hangul and the Kashmir stag habitat. This project for the conservation and protection of Kashmir stag came to be known as project Hangul.
- These deer once numbered from about 5,000 animals in the beginning of the 20th century.
- Unfortunately, they were threatened, due to habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock and poaching.
- This dwindled to as low as 150 animals by 1970. However, the state of Jammu & Kashmir, along with the IUCN and the WWF prepared a project for the protection of these animals.
- It became known as Project Hangul. This brought great results and the population increased to over 340 by 1980.
Threats to Hangul
- Habitat destruction: the intrusion of the human population in the Kashmir stag habitat, has been responsible for the declining population of Kashmir red Stag. Raising of domestic livestock such as sheep and goat in the Kashmir stag habitat has led to its fragmentation.
- Overgrazing by the domestic livestock has caused stress situations which have affected the reproductive cycle of Hangul.
- Infection to several diseases could have been responsible for its declining population.
- Poaching is another concern for the Kashmir red stag, and the situation gets deteriorated by the intrusion of terrorists in the Kashmir stag habitat.
Reasons for Failure of Project
- Many factors are responsible for the failure of this project.
- There was no local people participation in the project. It was carried without the involvement of local communities.
- The project was confined focus around Dagwan, in a radius of 10 kms crying foul of Sheep breading Farm.
- The government departments allowed establishing Cement factories around Dachingam National Park. They disturbed the wild areas.
- There was illegal and reckless unscientific extraction of limestone stretching over miles after miles was carried under its nose. Those areas created death traps for animals.
- The onset of militancy dealt a blow to conservation efforts.
- The Ministry of Environment and Forests notified the Ganges River Dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal.
- The Gangetic River dolphin is primarily found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers and their tributaries in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Ganga dolphins can live only in Fresh water.
- Gangetic Dolphins are blind and they also known as Susu and/or shushuk because of the sound it produces when breathing.
- Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds.
- The Ganges Dolphin is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins found in the world — the other three are the ‘baiji’ found in the Yangtze River (China), the ‘bhulan’ of the Indus (Pakistan) and the ‘boto’ of the Amazon River (Latin America). Although there are several species of marine dolphins whose ranges include some freshwater habitats, these four species live only in rivers and lakes.
- The Ganga River Dolphin inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
- It is estimated that their total population is around 2,000 and they are listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
- Assam’s Guwahati became the first city in the country to have its own city animal with the district administration declaring the Gangetic river dolphin as the mascot.
About Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary
- Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS), a 65km stretch of the Ganga River between Sultanganj and Kahalgaon towns in Bhagalpur, Bihar, India.
- It is a protected area established in 1991 to protect the endangered Gangetic river dolphin.
- Dredging, freight transport, pollution, and a lack of management plan leaves India’s only dolphin sanctuary, Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district, under threat.
- Union Ministry of Environment and Forest Conservation launched in 2016 the Endangered Species Recovery Plans for four species of global importance. This included Gangetic river dolphins, Great Indian Bustard, Manipur Sangai and Dugong.
- The animal is protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and is a declared endangered species.
- It is listed on Appendix I of the CITES. Listed by the IUCN as endangered on their Red List of Threatened Species.
- WWF-India adopted Ganges River Dolphin as a species of special concern. A Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Program was initiated in 1997 to build a scientific database of the population status of the species and study the habitat quality of the dolphins’ distribution range.
Threat to the dolphin
- In India, the Ganges River Dolphin is threatened by river water pollution and siltation, accidental entanglement in fishing nets and poaching for their oil.
- Losing of habitat due to increased developmental work on the river
- The development of the Ganga for shipping is seen as the single-largest threat to the survival of the species.
- Construction of dams and barrages on the river – results in to splitting of population into small groups, degraded their habitat and impeded migration.
- Also suffered due to
- Depletion of prey base,
- Accidental mortality in fishing nets and
- Accidents with vessel propellers.
- The ships’ noise-levels would disrupt the ability to navigate, and find prey.
- Hunting for their meat, oil and for use of traditional medicines.
- Pollution of river
- In addition, alterations to the rivers in the form of barrages and dams are separating populations.
So, this was all about some Specialised Projects for Wildlife Conservation that runs in the country to save our wildlife. And with this The Topic of Wildlife of India and its Conservation is completed in Indian Geography.
From the next post (Click here), we will study about the Soil and Soil system of India.