Q1. Why was Project Tiger launched? What are its objectives? What are its effects on the conservation of wildlife?
Tiger is one of the key wildlife species in the faunal web. In 1973, government authorities realised that the tiger population had dwindled to 1827 from an estimated 55,000 at the turn of the century. The major threat to the tiger population includes poaching for trade, shrinking habitat, depletion of prey based species, growing human population and deforestation. Among these poaching for the trade of skins and bones is the primary reason behind the dwindling of the tiger population to such an extent, that it is on the verge of extinction. Since India and Nepal provide habitat to about two-thirds of the surviving tiger population in the world, these two countries became prime targets for poaching of tigers and illegal trading. Thus, the central government announced the Project Tiger with the objective of protecting this species which was gravely threatened.
‘Project Tiger’ one of the well-publicised wildlife campaigns in the world, was launched in India in 1973.
The objectives of Project Tiger are as follows:
- Banning hunting and poaching of tigers.
- Restricting trade of tiger skin, bones. etc.
- Giving legal protection to their habitats by creating tiger reserves, e.g., Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand and Sunderbans in West Bengal. There are 27 tiger reserves in India covering an area of 37,761 sq. km.
- To increase the tiger population through natural breeding within the reserves.
- To conduct periodic censuses of the tiger population.
Initially, the Project Tiger showed success as the tiger population rose to 4002 in 1985 and 4334 in 1989. But in 1993, the population of the tiger had dropped to 3600. Presently, their number has further dwindled at an alarming figure.
Tiger conservation has been viewed not only as an effort to save an endangered species but with equal importance as a means of preserving biotypes of sizeable magnitude.
Q2. Discuss the role of local communities in the conservation of forests with the help of examples.
Indian forests are home to some of the traditional communities that are dependent on forests for their livelihood. These local communities are struggling to conserve forests along with government officials in some areas and in many areas, villagers themselves are protecting the habitats and explicitly rejecting government involvement.
In Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, villagers have fought against mining and destruction of forest by citing the Wildlife Protection Act.
The inhabitants of five villages in the Alwar district of Rajasthan have declared 1,200 hectares of forest area the Bhairodev Dakav ‘Sonchuri’, enforcing their own set of rules and regulations. They do not allow hunting and are protecting the wildlife against any outside encroachments. On account of nature worship prevalent mainly among the tribals, several virgin forests have been preserved in their pristine form as ‘Sacred Groves’.
The Bishnois of Rajasthan are well known for protecting black bucks (chinkara) an endangered species, and herds of black buck, nilgai and peacocks can be seen as an integral part of the community and nobody harms them.
The famous Chipko Movement in the Himalayas led by local communities, especially women, successfully resisted deforestation in several areas. They have also shown that community afforestation with indigenous species can be enormously successful.
Traditional conservation methods are revived through the Beej Bachao Andolan in Tehri and Navdanya.
The Joint Forest Management programme furnishes a good, example for involving local communities in the management and restoration of degraded forests.
Q3. What are ‘sacred groves’? Give examples of some species of flora which are worshipped by the tribals. How has the ‘sacredness’ ascribed to plants and animals helped in protecting them?
Nature worship is an age-old tribal belief based on the premise that all creations of nature, i.e., plants, animals, all living things and the surrounding abiotic environment, are sacred and should be protected. On account of nature worship, several virgin forests have been preserved in their pristine form and are called ‘Sacred Groves’ or forests of Gods and Goddesses. These patches of forests or parts of large forests have been left untouched by local communities and any interference with them is banned. These sacred groves have a wealth of diverse and rare species. Sacred Grooves
Certain tribal societies revere a particular species of flora which they have preserved from time immemorial.
The Mundas and the Santhals of the Chhotanagpur region worship Mahua (Bassia Latifolia) and Kadamba (Anthocaphalus cadamba) trees.
The tribals of Orissa and Bihar worship tamarind (Tamarindus indica) and mango (Mangifera indica) trees during weddings.
On account of the ‘sacredness’ ascribed to them, certain plants and animals have been protected. Peepal and banyan trees and tulsi plants are considered sacred by many of us. These trees themselves or their leaves are part of worship during pujas and rituals. These trees are revered and protected.
Troops of macaques and langur are found around many temples. They are fed daily and treated as a part of temple devotees.
In and around Bishnoi village of Rajasthan herds of black buck (chinkara), nilgai and peacocks can be seen as an integral part of the community. The Bishnois consider these animals as sacred and protect them.
Q4. Write a short note on Joint Forest Management. What have been the effect of Beej Bachao Andolan towards conservation of forests?
In India, Joint Forest Management Programme furnishes a good example for involving local communities in the management and restoration of degraded forests. Under the Joint Forest Management Programme the local communities form local (village) institutions that undertake protection activity, mostly on degraded forest land managed by the forest department. In return, members of these local communities are entitled to intermediary benefits like non-timber forest products like fruits, nuts, leaf, litter, honey, lac, etc, and share in the timber harvested by ‘successful protection.’
The Joint Forest Management programme has been in formal existence since 1988 when the state of Orissa passed the first resolution for Joint Forest Management. Ecological farming involves attempts to revive traditional conservation methods for developing new methods of farming that will not degrade the land. The Beej Bachao Andolan in Tehri and Navdanya are movements towards ecological farming. Farmers and citizen’s groups leading the Beej Bachao Andolan and Navdanya have shown that adequate levels of diversified crop production without the use of synthetic chemicals is possible and economically viable.
Q5. Write a note on the programmes accepted for conserving forest and wildlife in India.
Conservation of forest and wildlife is necessary because it preserves the ecological diversity and preserves our life support system. The National Forest Policy outlines the following for the protection, conservation and development of forests in India.
- Maintenance of environmental stability through preservation and restoration of ecological balance.
- Substantial increase in forest tree cover through massive afforestation and social forestry programmes.
- Steps to meet the requirements of good fuel in form of firewood and leaves, litter, fodder and minor forest products by increasing productivity of forests.
- Encouragement of efficient utilisation of forest produce and optimum substitution of wood.
- Steps to create massive people’s movement with the involvement of women to achieve the conservation of our national heritage and minimise the pressure on existing forests.
For the conservation of wildlife the following steps have been undertaken in India:
- Development of 106 national parks, 564 wildlife sanctuaries and 18 biosphere reserves.
- Implementation of Wildlife Protection Act.
- Protection of remaining population of endangered species by banning hunting, giving legal protection to their habitats and restricting trade in wildlife.
- Project Tiger, Project Rhino, Project Elephant etc for protection of threatened species in their natural habitats. 27 tiger reserves have been set up under Project Tiger.
- Four coral reefs have been identified for conservation and management. Many wetlands in the country are linked with river system.
|1. What are forest resources and why are they important for wildlife?
|2. How does deforestation affect wildlife?
|3. What are the major threats to forest and wildlife resources?
|4. How can we conserve forest and wildlife resources?
|5. What is the role of individuals in protecting forest and wildlife resources?