Endangered Wildlife in India: Tigers and Beyond

Posted by: Vandana Chaudhary on

Indian sub continent has a wide range of topography and climates, which contribute to varied natural habitats for the wild species. The Indian forests ranges from evergreen tropical rain forests in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Western Ghats, and the north-eastern states, conifer to dry alpine scrub high in the Himalaya to the north. This variability provides India, with a rich biodiversity. The biodiversity is decreasing at an alarming rate, with more species of animals and plants losing their stronghold even in their infamous habitats. The list of the endangered species has the majestic Tiger on the top of it, with all the attention moved towards tiger conservation.
India also known as a Tiger country will no more be a Tiger country in future. The plummeting population of Tigers in the wild in past and present decade gives us the scenario of the wildlife without the tiger in days to come in the country.
With the aim of conservation and augmentation of the dwindling population of tigers, the Indian government commenced the 'Project Tiger' in 1973-74.Intially under the project Tiger, nine wildlife sanctuaries were developed into tiger reserves with their core area being free of any human movement. In 1970's the population of tigers in the country was just 1,200 and in the 1990's the population increased to 3,500.This showed that project tiger was faring well and the objectives were achieved. However, the tiger census in 2008 gave some astounding figures as far as numbers of tiger in the country was concerned. The tigers left were merely 1,411. What went wrong? Countrywide, a wave of debates and discussions were doing the rounds.
Environmentalists, conservationists, wildlife activists and even the common man started thinking about the big cat's future. Government of India still continues to work for the preservation and protection of tigers. But, what the future will unfold is still unclear for the "Tiger?
Now, let us move away from the most endangered species of India "Tiger" and shift our focus to other animals which are endangered. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural resources (IUCN) in 2008 reported that 172 species of animals in India are considered globally threatened .These includes 53 species of mammal, 69 birds, 23 reptiles and 3 amphibians. These certainly comprises the Tiger (Panthera tigris) but apart from Tiger, there are many species which are critically endangered and may face extinction in future. Some of them include, the Dhole, Fishing Cat , Malabar Large-spotted Civet , Himalayan Wolf , Namadhapha flying squirrel , Asiatic Black Bear, Indian Vulture , Asiatic Lion , Banteng, Blue Whale, Capped Leaf Monkey , Chiru (Tibetan Antelope) , Desert Cat, Ganges River Dolphin , Golden Leaf Monkey , Great Indian Rhinoceros , Kashmir Stag/ Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr also Snow Leopard and many more.
Ongoing conservation efforts are on not only for the Tiger but for all endangered species. Its only that the Tiger conservation is the most highlighted one in the country at present.But only time can tell which animal would face the same situation as of tiger today. If the conservation efforts are fruitful enough then again we may have a good number of tigers in the country. Tiger extinction seems to be approaching us, step by step with decreasing numbers .Have you ever thought about the extinct species in India? These species have gone missing for a long time now and include mammals such as the Indian / Asiatic Cheetah, Javan Rhinoceros  and Sumatran Rhinoceros . Pink-headed Duck and the Himalayan Quail are the bird species which are feared extinct. The last sightings of the Asiatic/Indian Cheetah were is in 1947 and the Himalayan quail was in1846.
Wildlife conservation projects have been undertaken in India, both at the government as well as the individual level, to protect the rich wildlife of the subcontinent. As of April 2007, India has over 96 national parks and 551 wildlife sanctuaries. Among these 551 wild life sanctuaries, 28 are Tiger Reserves. Apart from these, there are 15 biosphere reserves in India. But there are several reasons as to why the conservation is so slow and unrewarding ,especially in case of endangered animal species.
The wildlife conservation efforts are always being challenged by poaching and deforestation in the forests .And these are to be dealt strictly by the law. It is considered that the tigers of Sariska Tiger reserve (Rajasthan) have been totally wiped off due to unrestrained poaching. The home for the animals have to be secure and safe .The wildlife flourishes in many parts of India, but some areas are affected from one or more reasons which may be natural or man caused. The threatened species will definitely gain immense benefit from conservation efforts substantially with time. However, the time is passing by quickly, at least for the "Tigers".