The best way to preserve biodiversity at all levels
, including genetic species and intact ecosystems, is to set aside an adequate representation of wilderness as ‘Protected Areas.'
• These should be made up of a network of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, each with its own distinct ecosystem.
• A network like this would help to preserve a region's total diversity of life.
• Project Tiger was the first such initiative aimed at protecting this key species and all of its habitats, and it was launched by the Government of India with the support of WWF-International in 1973.
• Project Tiger was launched in nine Tiger Reserves across the country, covering a total area of 16339 square kilometers.
• Crocodiles are endangered because their skin is used in the manufacture of leather goods.
• Crocodiles in the wild in India were nearly extinct in the 1960s as a result of this.
• In 1975, the Crocodile Breeding and Conservation Program was established to protect the remaining crocodile population in their natural habitat and to establish breeding centers.
• It's one of the country's most successful ex situ conservation breeding projects Crocodiles have been successfully bred in over 30 captive breeding centres, zoos, and other locations.
• In 20 natural water bodies, thousands of crocodiles of all three species have been bred and restocked.
• It was established in 1992 with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of a viable elephant population in their natural habitats in north and northeastern India, as well as in south India.
• It is currently being implemented in a number of states. Despite this, our elephant herds are in jeopardy as their habitat shrinks and human activities disrupt their migration routes.
WHY CONSERVAION MESSURES ARE IMPORANT?
• Species, cannot be protected individually because they are all interdependent. As a result, the entire ecosystem must be safeguarded.
• The biologist's point of view is concerned with areas with a high diversity of species, or with rare, threatened, or endangered species, or with 'endemic' species that are found nowhere else.
• Rare endemic species are restricted to a small geographic area, they are vulnerable to extinction as a result of human activity.
• Biodiversity is a unique feature of the region, such areas must be given extra attention.
• Elephants, for example, require different types of habitat to feed in at different times of the year. They graze on open grasslands after rains, when the young grass shoots are particularly nutritious. As the grasses dry up, the elephants migrate into the forest to eat the tree foliage. To protect elephants, a Protected Area must be large enough and include a variety of habitat types to support a diverse range of interconnected species.
WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES AND NATIONAL PARKS OF INDIA:
• In India, there are 589 protected areas, including 89 national parks and 500 wildlife sanctuaries. They consist of a wide range of ecosystems and habitats. Some were established to protect rare and endangered wild plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet.
• The Great Himalayan National Park is the ecosystem's largest sanctuary and one of the last remaining habitats for the beautiful snow leopard.
• The Dachigam Sanctuary is the only place in the world where you can see the rare Hangul or Kashmir stag.
• In the Terai region, there are several sanctuaries, the most famous of which is Kaziranga National Park, which has large populations of elephant, wild buffalo, gaur, wild boar, swamp deer, and hog deer, as well as tiger and leopard. It has a diverse bird population, including ducks, geese, pelicans, and storks.
• In addition to the Terai species mentioned above, the Manas Sanctuary is home to the rare golden langur and the extremely rare pygmy hog, the world's tiniest wild boar. Only a few undisturbed grasslands in Terai sanctuaries support the florican.
• There are several Protected Areas in Madhya Pradesh's sal forests.
• Kanha provides a fantastic opportunity to see wild tigers from the back of an elephant. It is the only Protected Area in which a Barasingha subspecies can be found.
• Bharatpur is home to one of the world's most famous water bird sanctuaries. The area is home to thousands of ducks, geese, herons, and other wading birds. This is the only place in the world where the extremely rare Siberian crane can be found, as it migrates to India every winter. The original 30 or 40 Siberian cranes have been reduced to only 2 or 3 in the last 20 years. Cranes have not been seen in India since 2002-3, and it is possible that this beautiful bird will never return.
• The Desert National Park in the Thar Desert protects the wildlife. Numerous black buck, neelgai, and chinkara can be seen here.
• These arid lands are home to the Great Indian Bustard. Until about 3 or 4 years ago, Ranthambor was the most well-known sanctuary for observing tigers in the wild.
• The Great and Little Ranns of Kutch have been designated as wildlife sanctuaries to protect endangered species such as wild asses, flamingos, star tortoises, and desert foxes.
• The Gir Sanctuary in Gujarat is home to the last remaining population of the majestic Asiatic lion. Large herds of chital, sambar, and nilgai live in this thorny and deciduous forest.
• The Western Ghats' sanctuaries and associated hill ranges protect some of the country's most diverse forest types. The Malabar giant squirrel, the flying squirrel, and a variety of hill birds, as well as amphibians, reptiles, and insects, are just a few examples of highly threatened species. These areas are also home to a diverse range of endemic plant species.
• This rich flora is preserved in Maharashtra's Bhimashankar, Koyana, Chandoli, and Radhanagari
• Karnataka's Bandipur, Bhadra, Dandeli, Nagarhole, and Kerala's Eraviculum, Perambiculum, Periyar, and Silent Valley.
• The rich forest Sanctuaries of the Nilgiri Hills protect some of the last pockets of Indian elephants in South India. Bandipur, Madhumalai, Wynad, and Bhadra are some examples.
• A large number of this region's great tusker elephants have been ruthlessly killed for their ivory in the last ten years. In these jungles, only a few of these magnificent animals remain.
MARINE NATIONAL PARK
• The Chilka Lake and Point Calimere are two important sanctuaries dedicated to the preservation of coastal ecosystems.
• The Sunderbans are home to India's largest mangrove delta.
• Gujarat's Marine National Park protects shallow seabed areas, islands, coral reefs, and vast mudflats.
• To protect the Andaman and Nicobar Islands' unique island ecosystems, over a hundred Protected Areas have been established.
THE NEED FOR AN INTEGRATED PROTECTED AREA SYSTEM (IPAS)
• Protected Areas must be established in every biogeographic region to be effective. Highly fragile ecosystems, areas with high species diversity, and areas with high endemicity must all be represented in a larger way.
• Protected Areas must also be connected to one another by creating corridors between adjacent areas where possible to allow wildlife to move between them.
• It is difficult to set aside more and more land to create Protected Areas in our country, which has a rapidly growing human population.
• Land and resource management is becoming increasingly concerned about the need to provide more land for agricultural and other purposes. This is a significant impediment to the creation of new Protected Areas.
• National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries must be declared in residual areas with high levels of species richness, endemism, or endangered plants and animals. Other areas could be designated as Community Conserved Areas, which would be managed by locals.
• If biodiversity is to be conserved in the long run, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources states that at least 10% of all ecosystems must be designated as Protected Areas.
• India's 589 Protected Areas cover only 5% of the country's total land area. However, much of this includes plantations of sal or teak, which were originally developed for timber and thus have a low level of diversity and naturalness.
• Only a few good grasslands remain in our country, and they are designated as Protected Areas. Some of them are overgrazed wastelands in once-thriving grasslands. The majority of these areas have low biological value and require careful management in order to return to a more "natural" state, complete with all of their plants and animals.
• Only a handful of wetlands have been designated as Sanctuaries. These will need to be better managed. Providing a sustainable source of resources for local people living in the PAs should be a major strategy for reducing impacts on the biodiversity of the PAs.
• Traditional grazing practices and access to fuelwood sources are restricted in a Protected Area.
• These resources must be developed in buffer zones in order to be available. Fuel wood plantations and good grassland management outside of Protected Areas can help relieve pressure on wildlife habitat within the Protected Area. The PA's presence must provide a direct economic benefit to the local community, according to management. Local people are more likely to support the Protected Area if they are involved in its management and development of tourist facilities that generate income for them.
• An important aspect of PA management is a carefully designed management plan that includes a ‘eco development' component aimed at providing a source of fuel wood, fodder, and alternate income generation for local people. Outside of our current network of PAs, several plant and animal species survive without protection. Because notifying more PAs without affecting people's lives is impractical, alternative strategies such as Community Reserves or Community Conserved Areas must be developed.
• Local people should manage these to ensure biodiversity conservation while using the area's resources in an equitable and sustainable manner.
• A Community Conserved Area (CCA) must have specific conservation objectives that can be met without jeopardizing the area's utility.
• A major push for biological diversity conservation can only come from a widespread environmental education program emphasizing the importance of safeguarding our dwindling biological resources.
• The best way to conserve a species is to protect its habitat and all of the other species that live in it in nature. This is referred to as in-situ conservation, which is the preservation of a species in its natural habitat through the establishment of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
• However, there are cases where an endangered species is so close to extinction that it will be driven to extinction unless alternative methods are implemented.
• Ex-situ conservation refers to the practice of multiplying species outside of their natural habitat in a carefully controlled environment, such as a botanical garden for plants or a zoological park for animals, where experts have the knowledge to do so.
• However, managing a Protected Area is more expensive than running a breeding program for rare plants and animals.
• Another method of preserving a plant is to store its germ plasm in a gene bank so that it can be used in the future if necessary. This will set you back even more money. When an animal is on the verge of extinction, it must be carefully bred to prevent inbreeding from weakening its genetic makeup. Breeding from the same stock can result in poorly adapted offspring or even a lack of offspring.
• Modern breeding programs are carried out in zoos that cater to all of the animals' needs, including enclosures that mimic their natural environments. There may also be a need for artificial breeding assistance. While most zoos are designed to give visitors a visual experience of seeing a wild animal up close and provide information about the species, a modern zoo must go beyond these functions to include endangered species breeding as a conservation measure.
• Ex situ conservation programs for all three of India's crocodile species have been successful. This has proven to be a huge success.
• The breeding of the extremely rare pygmy hog in Gauhati zoo has also been a recent success.
• The rare Manipur brow antlered deer has been successfully bred at the Delhi Zoo.
• The most crucial step in a successful breeding program, however, is the reintroduction of a species back into its natural habitat. This necessitates the restoration of degraded habitat as well as the elimination of other factors that have contributed to the species' population decline, such as poaching, disturbance, or other man-made influences.
CONSERVATION OF CULTIVARS AND LIVESTOCK BREEDS
• Until about 50 years ago, there were an estimated thirty thousand varieties of rice grown in India. Only a few of these are still being grown today.
• The germplasm of these original types of rice was used to develop the new varieties that are now being grown all over the world. It will be difficult to develop new disease resistant rice varieties in the future if all of the traditional varieties vanish completely.
• In gene banks, several varieties have been preserved. However, this is both costly and dangerous.
• Encouraging farmers to continue to grow a variety of traditional varieties is thus critical for humanity's future. There are currently over 34 thousand cereals and 22 thousand pulses in gene bank collections.
• Domestic animals were once chosen and bred for their ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. For the past 2 to 3 thousand years, traditional agro pastoralists in India have selectively bred livestock. There are 27 cattle breeds, 40 sheep breeds, 22 goat breeds, and 8 buffalo breeds in India. Traditional breeds must be preserved because of their genetic diversity.