India had large tract of forests, extensive grasslands, deserts and wetlands all prime ecosystems that supported vast array of wild animals, birds, butterflies and reptiles. The
rapid increase in population and subsequent urgency for agricultural land and fuel wood resulted in destruction of our ecosystems. The demand for commercial wood and trophies all have contributed alongside to destroy nature and
wildlife in India.
Though much is still left, the wilderness now thrives in small pockets designated as protected areas -
National Parks and
sanctuaries. The protected areas were created to conserve keystone species like tigers and lion in India. The conservation efforts in the seventies and eighties resulted in comeback of most of the endangered species like the tiger, swamp deer, Indian
rhino and Asiatic lion to mention a few.
Project tiger is
one such example which after initial success was unable to control poaching and forest destruction. The creation of
tiger reserves was to accord additional protection. Unfortunately the increase in poaching incidence especially for tiger parts in China, skin
in Tibet and elsewhere took its toll and still does. The demand created a nexus of smugglers, middlemen and poachers. The lucrative demand gave rise to poaching incidence even in the best protected tiger reserves like Sariska and Panna National Parks. In
many incidences local communities are involved lured by a paltry sum.
The most threatened species is the Bengal tiger. This charismatic big cat in spite of a major conservation efforts continues to be exterminated by the poachers in India. Taking
Panna into consideration the administration and the law and order machinery appears to be helpless in nabbing and booking those involved in illegal wildlife trade.
Tiger apart from being an important part of our environment is a National Heritage. Indian wildlife is diverse and unique. India is home to many endemic species as well. The country benefits
from conserving its natural wealth and hence protecting the environment. If keystone species become extinct the damage to our environment will be irrevocable.
The wildlife also attracts tourists from all over the World. The increase in eco-tourism brings in crucial funds. These funds are employed in conservation, economic upliftment of local communities
as well as the tourism industry. The need of the hours is
responsible wildlife tourism and
tiger safari that promotes conservation. Tourism also brings into focus the understanding of the ecosystem and wildlife there in.
Stringent laws that prevent poaching and destruction of our ecosystems are required urgently. The protected areas are created with conservation. But tourism should not be discouraged. The
activity should be restricted and monitored. Neglected areas are more susceptible to poaching since the public eye is absent. Tourists along with local communities play an important role in conservation of our National Heritage.