get the resources, publicity, or attention that it deserves. This is especially true in India, where the government and other agencies tend to focus wholly on other issues such as poverty and crime. Under the Indian Wildlife (protection) Act 1972, certain species are protected, certain activities (such as hunting at specified times of the year or in specified locations) are forbidden, and a much larger area of land is protected under national parks¹.
Prior to the Act, hunting of endangered species such as tigers, elephants, and leopards was widespread, and led to each of these species becoming endangered. Since the Act was developed, many people have been convicted of offences related to poaching, hunting out of season, and killing endangered animals. The most notable of these are convictions related to tiger poaching: up to April 2010, at least 16 people were convicted of offences related to killing tigers¹.
National parks and other protected areas
One extremely positive thing in relation to conservation in India are their national parks. Before the Wildlife Act 1972, they had just five national parks. Today, that number has grown to at least 103, with many more proposed parks in the process of being developed. Many other protected areas exist, including over 500 wildlife sanctuaries, 48 tiger reserves, 18 biosphere reserves, and a number of private protected areas, conservation areas, and community reserves². As of July 2016, 4.89% of India’s land area was dedicated to wildlife conservation zones, while 21.34% was under forest cover (and therefore is suitable for the future conservation of endangered species)³.
One huge area of success for conservation efforts in India is their implementation of tiger reserves. In 2010, an estimated 1711 tigers remained in India’s jungles – just 2% of the population that existed 100 years before⁴. However, in the past six years, the population has increased to around 2500 tigers – something which points towards a positive future for wildlife in India⁵. The reason that India’s tiger reserves are so successful is tourism. People – especially Indian citizens – are beginning to realise how beautiful their wildlife is and how much it needs protecting. Income from tourism is being put towards future conservation projects, and we can expect big things going forward.
The Wildlife Conservation Society in India
The Wildlife Conservation Society has been active in India since 1986, when they began a tiger research project in Nagarhole National Park. Since then, they have developed and implemented countless conservation projects across the country, and plan on creating many more in the future⁶.
They have partnered with both the Indian government and many other non government agencies to deliver top-quality conservation plans which the Indian people can help implement. They have used community education as a big tool to reduce poaching, illegal hunting, and habitat destruction while recruiting people from disadvantaged communities to help with their projects.
Most of the WCS projects in India are based on specific sites, usually nature reserves or other protected areas. They focus on protecting certain species in a specified area by removing threatening processes (such as habitat destruction or introduced predators) and encouraging population recovery⁷.