Project Tiger was initiated as a Central Sector Scheme in 1973 with 9 tiger reserves located in different habitat types in 9 different states. There are totally 18 Reserves in 13 states. At present tiger Conservation has been viewed in India not only as an effort to save an endangered species but, with equal importance, also as a means of preserving biotypes of sizeable magnitude.
Crocodile Breeding Project
The project was started in Orissa and then extended to several other states in April 1975 with UNDP assistance. The main objective was to protect the three endangered species of crocodiles namely – Gavialis gangeticus, Crocodylus palustris and the salt water crocodile, Crocodylus porosus.
Lesser Cats Project
The project was launched in 1976 with the assistance of WWF in India for conservation of four species of lesser cats e.g. Felis bengalensis Kerr, Felis marmorta Martin, Felis lemruinki Vigors Horsfield and Felis viverrina Bennet, found in Sikkim and Northern part of West Bengal.
The Manipur Brow-antlered Deer Project
This was launched in 1981 in Manipur to save the brow-antlered deer (Cerevus eldi eldi) which is on the verge of extinction. The habitat includes 35 sq.km. of park and sanctuary. The population of the deer has increased from 18 to 27.
It was launched in 1991 to protect the Asiatic elephant which is also a highly endangered species because of large scale poaching.
It was launched in 1987 in Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam to save the lesser one horned rhinoceros from extinction. It covers an area of 430 sq.km. and is the natural of the dwindling rhino.
Himalayan musk deer project
This was launched in 1981 to save the endangered musk deer which is facing extinction. Captive breeding has yielded good results.
This project was launched in 1970 in Kashmir valley to save the highly endangered Kashmir stag (Cerevus elaphus hanglu) which is facing extinction. As a result their population has increased
Steps Taken By Government for Biodiversity Protection
Indian Government has taken various biodiversity protection steps. Important measures include:
- The Central Government has enacted the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The Act, inter alia, provides for the creation of Protected Areas for the protection of wildlife and also provides for punishment for hunting of specified fauna specified in the schedules I to IV thereof.
- Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2010 have been framed for the protection of wetlands, in the States.
- The Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-System also provides assistance to the States for the management of wetlands including Ramsar sites in the country.
- Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established for control of illegal trade in wildlife, including endangered species.
- Wildlife Institute of India, Bombay Natural History society and Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History are some of the research organisations undertaking research on conservation of wildlife.
- The Indian Government has banned the veterinary use of diclofenac drug that has caused the rapid population decline of Gyps vulture across the Indian Subcontinent. Conservation Breeding Programmes to conserve these vulture species have been initiated at Pinjore (Haryana), Buxa (West Bengal) and Rani, Guwahati (Assam) by the Bombay Natural History Society.
- The Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats‘ has been modified by including a new component namely ‘Recovery of Endangered Species‘ and 16 species have been identified for recovery viz. Snow Leopard, Bustard (including Floricans), Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugong, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer and Jerdon’s Courser.
- Under the ‘Recovery of Endangered Species’ component of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ for the recovery of endangered species viz. Hangul in Jammu and Kashmir, Snow Leopard in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, Vulture in Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, Swiftlet in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Nilgiri Tahr in Tamil Nadu, Sangai Deer in Manipur, the government has to spend lakhs of rupees.
- Protected Areas, viz, National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves all over the country covering the important habitats have been created as per the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to provide better protection to wildlife, including threatened species and their habitat.
- Financial and technical assistance is extended to the State Governments under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, viz, ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’ for providing better protection and conservation to wildlife.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders.
- The State Governments have been requested to strengthen the field formations and intensify patrolling in and around the Protected Areas.
Policies related to Environment and Bio Diversity
- National Forest Policy.
- National Conservation Strategy and Policy statement on Environment and Development.
- National Policy and macro-level action strategy on Biodiversity.
- National Biodiversity Action Plan (2009).
- National Agriculture Policy.
- National Water Policy.
- National Environment Policy (2006).
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 :
The act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants and matters connected with them, with a view to ensure the ecological and environmental security of India.
- It provides for prohibition on use of animal traps except under certain circumstances
- It provides for protection of hunting rights of the Scheduled Tribes in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
- Has provisions for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection
- Species listed in Schedule I and part II of Schedule II get absolute protection — offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties
- Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower
- Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted
- The plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting
- The act constitutes a National Board for Wildlife that
- provides guidelines for framing policies and advising Central and State Government on promotion of wildlife conservation and controlling poaching and illegal trade of wildlife and its products;
- Making recommendations for setting up and managing national parks, sanctuaries and other protected areas; and
- Suggesting measures for improvement of wildlife conservation.
- It also sets up National Tiger Conservation Authority.
- The acts sets up various provisions related to trade and penalties for hunting the animals in wild.
- Five kinds of protected areas can be notified in the Act. These are:
- Sanctuaries: The State or Central Government may by notification declare its intention to constitute any area as a sanctuary for protecting wildlife and the environment. The government determines the nature and extent of rights of persons in or over the land within the sanctuary.
- National Parks:
- The State or Central Government may declare an area, whether inside a sanctuary or not, as a national park for the purpose of protecting and developing wildlife and its environment.
- The State Government cannot alter the boundaries of a national park except on the recommendation of the National Board for Wildlife.
- No grazing is allowed inside a national park.
- All provisions applicable to a sanctuary are also applicable to a national park.
- Conservation Reserves: The State Government after consultations with local communities can declare any area owned by the Government, particularly areas adjacent to national parks or sanctuaries, as conservation reserves. The government constitutes a Conservation Reserve Management Committee to manage and conserve the conservation reserve.
- Community Reserves: The State Government can, in consultation with the community or an individual who have volunteered to conserve wildlife, declare any private or community land as community reserve. A Community Reserve Management Committee shall be constituted by State Government for conserving and managing the reserve.
- Tiger Reserve: These areas were reserved for protection tiger in the country. The State Government on the recommendation of the Tiger Conservation Authority may notify an area as a tiger reserve, for which it has to prepare a Tiger Conservation Plan.
National Wildlife Action Plan:
- The NWAP 2017-31, under which there are 250 projects, is India’s road map to conserve wildlife for the next 15 years. The plan is woven around the agenda of the United Nations’ 15th Sustainable Developmental Goal — “Life on Land”.
- The key strategic changes in the new plan is adopting a “landscape approach” in conservation of all the wildlife — uncultivated flora (plants) and undomesticated fauna (animals) — rather than the areas where they occur.
- This means that while till now programmes and plans related to wildlife were focused on and around national parks and sanctuaries, now the strategies would be based on the landscape of the region that may not be limited to a reserve forest system alone.
- The plan has been divided into five components, which are further divided into 17 themes carrying 103 conservation actions. Each theme has a set of conservation actions and projects — 250, in all.
- Man-animal conflict mitigation, adapting to the climate change, managing eco-tourism, ensuring public participation in the conservation, developing human resources, strengthening research and monitoring through modern technology like radio collars and drones and ensuring funds for the wildlife sector have been given special thrust in the planning.
- The plan adopts a “landscape approach” in conservation of all wildlife – uncultivated flora and fauna – that have an ecological value to the ecosystem and to mankind irrespective of where they occur. It gives special emphasis to recovery of threatened species of wildlife while conserving their habitats.
- The government has also underlined an increased role of private sector in wildlife conservation. The plan lays down that the Centre would ensure that adequate and sustained funding including Corporate Social Responsibility funds are made available for the National Wildlife Action Plan implementation.