India has perhaps the finest conservation laws, but they are poorly implemented, bypassed, ignored, and circumvented. The other problem is that the laws and conservation policies are being diluted, largely to accommodate the ease of doing business, to facilitate faster approvals for industries and infrastructure.
With only about five per cent of India’s land protected as sanctuaries or national parks, the increasing habitat destruction and fragmentation are posing a threat to the country’s wildlife.
Reckless development is fragmenting even this minuscule part of India, which is the refuge of India’s spectacular and rare wildlife, with railway lines, highways, canals, wires criss-crossing the reserves; plus there are villages, temples, townships, reservoirs, mines within these areas, and in their immediate vicinity.
Regarded as a global leader in conservation, India is refuge to species that are almost extinct elsewhere.
Despite the country’s conservation efforts, a lack of commitment points to a grim future with several species becoming extinct.
India’s is a great conservation success story with the largest number of tigers and elephants, and refuge to species like gharial and Ganges dolphins which are nearly extinct elsewhere. But India is lacking the will, and the commitment, to conserve, and if the current rate continues, wildlife faces a grim future.
While species such as Indian bustard, hangul and gharial remain critically endangered, wolves and lesser floricans are becoming locally extinct in former habitats with a drastic decline in their number.
Nature needs a greater constituency — unless the electorate speaks up, the governments won’t give wildlife priority.