Research Article

Glimpses of Forest Conservation in Different Dynasties of India  

Chinniah Sekhar , V. Ganesan , K. Baranidharan
1 Department of Agricultural Economics, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India
2 Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Pollachi, India
3 Forest College and Research Institute, Mettupalayam, India
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Horticulture, 2018, Vol. 8, No. 12   doi: 10.5376/ijh.2018.08.0012
Received: 30 Mar., 2018    Accepted: 20 Apr., 2018    Published: 01 Jun., 2018
© 2018 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Sekhar C., Ganesan V., and Baranidharan K., 2018, Glimpses of forest conservation in different dynasties of India, International Journal of Horticulture, 8(12): 124-146 (doi: 10.5376/ijh.2018.08.0012)

Abstract

This paper is a review paper extensively drawn from different websites for having better understanding on Forest Conservation effort taken up in different dynasties of India. For that purpose, the forests in Vedic Period, Mauriyan Dynasty, Moghul Dynasty, Early British Period and Post-Independence India. During Early British Period, the forest were considered as revenue earning source and the matured timbers were extracted and sent to their home country for laying railway sleepers and for construction timbers and they paid more attention towards hunting of wild animals. Post-Independence India had developed a National Forest Policy during the year 1952 to curtail certain activities in the forest but permitted the extraction of timbers for revenue purpose. But the National Forest Policy 1988 has curtailed everything and devoted much attention towards forest conservation related issues focusing the Joint Forest Management Concepts with the support of local Tribes. 

Keywords
Forest conservation; Forests and dynasties; Forests in Pre British; Forests in post-independence; National forest policy

Background

The Planet Earth is boasted with full of fauna and flora and blessed with several millions of lives and they have established a chain of linkages in the life cycle and in the food chain. The evolution of human forms before 315,000 years in Africa have slowly developed its population and started exploration for its food and shelter. In the process of searching the food and shelter, several lives were killed and left unused and becomes food to other chain forms. Similar destruction had continued and today the natural resources both fauna and flora are facing threats in the hands of Homo sapiens, the Human. The review taken up is how the forest have been denuded and the extent of conservation efforts documented or advocated in different dynasties and what are the ultimate cause to the earth’s biodiversity are the core idea and hence the review paper is drawn and presented in different periods.

 

India’s biodiversity is threatened by the destruction and degradation of forest ecosystems and by the over exploitation of forest resources particularly the fauna and flora.

 

More specifically, the threats are due to the following Anthropological and inhuman actions. The inhuman actions continued in the planet earth from the start of human civilization to till date. In the name of forest policy and conservation effort, so far no much effort has been taken to restore the virgin forests. Instead, the Virgin Forests have been identified and Eco-Tourism related events took place. The inhuman actions are enlisted and furnished as follows.

 

• Implementation of Large Scale Development Projects such as Mining, Construction of Reservoirs and Dams;

• Conversion of Tropical Biodiversity rich Forest Ecosystems into Wet Land Ecosystems, industrial and residential colonies;

• Hunting of wild life for their Precious and Valuable resources;

• Permission to Enter the Dense and Virgin Forests Floor in the name of Eco-Tourism has resulted in Slow depletion of Shola-Forest resources;

• Extraction of Non Timber Forest Produce over and above the Threshold level;

• Removal of Valuable Timber Resources for the purpose of Railway Sleepers and Construction purposes;

• Export of Wild Life Products indirectly motivated the poachers to large scale hunting of wild animals;

• Removal of Forest Flora for Medicinal and Aromatic importance beyond their rejuvenation level.

 

While there has been no comprehensive assessment of biodiversity loss, three of four mammal species have been lost since 1950, and so also 15-20 plant species have become extinct. By and large over ten per cent of India’s flowering plant species are threatened with extinction leading to loss of agro-biodiversity. In one district of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal, 95 percent of rice varieties previously cultivated are no longer found. However, in recent days, certain Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have entered into the tasks of restoring the genes of Traditional Rice Varieties of India. To cite an example, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore has created a separate Department entitled “Department of Plant Genetic Resources”, a recently established institution is poised to take up the responsibility of preserving the native food genes for futuristic research and developmental initiatives.

 

Another organization in southern part of Tamil Nadu has also initiated some efforts to conserve the traditional rice varieties in the name of “Namma Nellu” where the good old rice genes have been assembled and protected for further multiplication of those rice varieties and are field tested to rejuvenate the yield with new cultural practices organically. Similar to that several organizations are in this direction to touch and develop the untouched areas. Though these traditional food varieties are of part of forest origin, the same has been drawn, bred with some other varieties and new varieties have been developed over the generations and high yielding varieties were developed. However, similar efforts in forest flora related works are not taken up by any Non-Governmental Organizations voluntarily. Hence, some of the organization has to be developed with the policy guidelines of Forests.

 

Although the depletion of biodiversity causes are innumerous, this situation is primarily due to the replacement of low input consuming poly-cultural systems with higher-input consuming mono-cultural varieties. Here, the right example, is replacement of forests fauna and flora in the hilly zones and planting of exotic species of Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus citriodora for meeting the requirements of Industrial wood for the pulp and paper industry and for the medicinal and Ayurveda pharmacy oriented units. Another example is the Taungya system practiced by the tribes of hilly tract. They used to clean the entire forest area and do monoculture of food crops for a season and again they move to another locale for destruction of forests for promoting agriculture if the yield of the crops started declining. Similarly, the forests were depleted.

 

The number of plant species in India is estimated to be over 45,000 representing about 12 per cent of the Worlds Flora. These include over 17,500 flowering plants of which around 5,000 species are endemic to the country (Table 1). It is estimated that 32 per cent of Indian plants are endemic to the country and found nowhere else in the world. Among the plant species, the flowering plants have a much higher degree of endemism.

 

Table 1 Status of biodiversity in India

 

Among the Amphibians found in India, around 62 per cent are unique to this country, India. Among 153 species of Lizards recorded, 50 per cent of them are endemic. High endemism has also been recorded for various groups of insects, centipedes, millipedes, marine worms, mayflies and fresh water spongy organisms.

 

India is also considered as one of the World’s eight centers of origin of cultivated plants. India has 51 species of Cereals and Millets, 104 Species of Fruits, 27 Species of Spices and Condiments, 55 Species of Vegetables and Pulses, 24 Species of Fiber crops, 12 Species of Oil Seeds and various wild strains of Tea, Coffee, Tobacco and Sugarcane. Even now when we examine the Wild Sugarcane, it is interesting in its appearance, taste and color at the nodes and internodes of wild sugarcane. Based on this treasure, India has developed lot many varieties of Cereals, Pulses, Oilseeds and Fiber Crops to combat the crisis of food shortage.

 

Besides the above, several hundred species of wild crop relatives are also distributed all over the country, especially in the Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Himalayas, the Malabar Coast, North Eastern part of India, the Gangetic Plains and in the Eastern part of the Deccan Plateau which are the major centers for Wild Rice Varieties. Before the Introduction of International Rice Varieties, Maapillai Chamba, Cheeraga Chamba, Karr Rice Varieties are popular in villages. Currently, the Department of Plant Genetic Resources of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has around 1,200 Germplasm accessions, 400 land races, 200 rice varieties to its credit.

 

Similar to Flora, India’s faunal wealth is equally diverse. The total number of animal species is estimated at around 91,000 representing about 8 per cent of the Worlds Fauna. India’s known animal diversity includes about 8.62 lakhs of insects, 21,700 fish, 249 amphibians, 460 reptiles, 1,200 birds and 400 mammals and around 86,400 invertebrates. Among the faunal resources, few of the mammals like Elephants, Horses, Donkeys, Wild Cattle and Bear have been domesticated for its products like Milk, Hides and Hairs and for recreation and entertainment related events. Elephants are domesticated for pulling and transport of large timbers and made to work heavily. In this respect, elephant training centers have been created in the forests for forest labor related activities and the trainings were given with the support of tribes in the locale. Similarly, the tribes were also involved in forest related activities without any remuneration but for food and other offerings during the season and toiled like animals.

 

The ancient practice of domesticating the animals as stated above has resulted in India’s diverse livestock, poultry and other animal breeds. India has 26 breeds of cattle, 40 breeds of sheep, 20 breeds of Goats, 8 breeds of Camels, 6 breeds of Horses, 2 Breeds of Donkeys and 18 breeds of poultry birds. Currently the poultry sector is growing heavily because of tender and soft meat and egg realization to meet the requirement of growing population. In recent days, a black colored, grey headed, grey legged poultry birds are also developed for their delicious meat and egg products. The meat is also dark but delicious. One bird is priced between $ 2,000 and $ 2,500. Every one feared that whether the blood of the bird will be black or red. Fortunately, it is thick red in color. We will also wait to receive the meat in our kitchen to fulfill the needs of taste buds.

 

India also contains vast microbial diversity. India has at least 850 species of bacteria and virus and the fungi is found to be around 12,500. Normally the Shola Forests are recognized as the undisturbed biodiversity rich zone. In the name of Eco-Tourism, these zones are also disturbed. The undisturbed microbial load in the layers of decayed organic matter are get transferred to the plains through the visitors and the microorganisms started communicating different unknown diseases and cause death penalty to the human too if it is not addressed on time. Even the physicians are unable to diagnose what kind of microorganisms are causing such diseases is also in question. Such an important diversity rich nation should have higher forest cover to boaster the needs of different living forms at least to one third of the Total Geographical Area which is accounted to be 33 per cent. But India is having only 21 per cent of the forest cover. Hence more miles to go in achieving the target of forest cover for conserving the species of biodiversity. In this circumstances, the importance given to forest in different ages becomes important and hence these are reviewed and presented under the following heads to learn how the destruction of forests have been planned and carried out by the different empires without knowing the importance of Forests.

 

• Forests in Vedic Period;

• Forests in Mauriyan Dynasty;

• Forests in Moghul Dynasty;

• Forests in Early British Period;

• Forests in Post-Independence India;

• Forest Organizations involved in Conservation.

 

1 Forests in Vedic Period

The Forests in Ancient India have been well documented in Vedic Texts, Epics and Puranas. The principles regarding forests and their sustainable management are well encroached in Pre-Historic India. For instance, the Vedas provide description about the uses and management of forests.

 

In Ancient India, several plants were considered sacred because of their natural, aesthetic and medicinal qualities. Eg. Ficus religiosa, Ficus bengalensis, Azadirachta indica, Aegle marmelos etc. Further, they were also believed to be significant because of their proximity to a particular god or goddess. This has been described in Ramayanam that when Lord Rama is about to set out on his long stay in the forests south of the Gangetic Plains, his mother Kaushalya, has expressed fear about his safety and security issues. Further, Lord Rama himself, in a bid to dissuade his wife, Sita, from following him into the woods, paints a similar portrait of the forest as a place of hidden menace. Even the word ‘Vanam’, or the Forest was only given to lands where pleasure gave way to hardship. But a very different picture of the same lands emerges when Sita finally has her way and joins her husband in exile. The forested lands are considered as a source of pleasure to her. The twin themes of the forest as a place of dangers to be confronted and of beauty to be enjoyed run like a thread through subsequent sections of this great epic. Till now, the forests are being graded as the lands of Thrill to the youths and the pleasure giving environment and hence many of the people are migrating towards forest in the name of Eco-Tourism.

 

Vedic traditions confirm that every single village comes under three main categories namely; Mahavanam, Thapovanam and Shrivanam. A fresh phase of Town-Building exercise began in Northern part of India during third century AD. The forest was defined in their own ways. It was considered as another part of land and the space provided by the god, set apart not only by its beasts and birds but also by its people. The forest in which Lord Rama and Lakshmana living had a gleam of metal sword and axe to warn any intruder of their forest areas. In the texts from the vedic times many centuries earlier Aryavartha, the land of the Aryans, was often co-terminus with the land of the black antelope. In geography, it has been defined as these were areas to the North of the Vindhya Mountain Chain. At other times, it included lands to the south. The societies beyond were seen as different in culture and life style is found to be dangerous, unruly and barbaric nature.

 

In the Tamil Literature of the Sangam Age dating back even further than Valmiki’s epic, land is divided into five basic eco-types. They are:

 

• Kurinji-It represents the Hilly areas and their surroundings. Here the richness of forest ecosystems coupled with wild life is evidenced. The ecology and nature of habitat changed over time.

• Marutham-It represents the land ranging from the littoral to the wet rice fields manned by the farming community.

• Neithal-It represents the Coastal Zones and the Deep Sea areas in which the people started fishing related activities and fully dependent on them.

• Mullai-The land piece covered with forest trees and scrub jungle in which the people had the practice of hunting for food, having shelter and capable of acquiring the basic needs from the terrestrial environment. The people seek to collect the medicinal herbs for their ailment.

• Paalai-The piece of land where people lived by herding became a land of great scarcity for natural resources and face danger when the rains failed, a place of menace where wolves and thieves attacked the people. Here also the people resort to collect the herbs for their medical ailment. 

 

The five ecotypes and the life of the people, their occupation, crop plants, season of cultivation, water facility available, soil type in each of the land and the god associated with each type of land are outlined in Table 2.

 

Table 2 The attributes of landscape in five types of land

Note: (Source: Wikipedia.org)

 

In Tamil, each of the five geographical landscapes are named for a flower that is characteristic of that landscape. In English translation, however, it is customary to use the name of the landscape rather than that of a flower, largely because of the flowers lack the cultural association with the specific language of English that they have in Tamil. The language Tamil is a sweet language spoken in many parts of the world and even now around six countries have Tamil as their language.

 

1.1 Kurunji landscape

The Mountains is the scene of Lovers’ union at Midnight. The Forests is rich with waterfalls, timber trees like Teak, Bamboo, Sandalwood and Wild animals. In this region, the millets from forest origin are cultivated or collected and used as food by the tribes. Particularly, the Thinai is the millet normally collected by them and the same was consumed in combination with honey collected from the forests. Besides, the wild fruits and vegetables were also utilized by the tribes. The landscape is named in the name of Kurinji Flower which flowers once in Ten or Twelve years and was loved by Ms. Valli, (the Tribal girl) the lover of Lord Murugan often visits the mountain in a Peacock bird. To highlight the significance of the landscape, a poetic nature of song is furnished below drawn from Kurunthogai.

 

A beautiful Winged Bee

Whose life is passed in search of Honey?

Dont speak to me of Desire

But tell me what you really saw;

Could even the flowers that you know be as the hair of the Woman?

With the even set of teeth and the Peacock Nature to whom long affection binds me-Iraiyanar

 

1.2 Mullai landscape

It is the land of the forest. The forest is rich with lakes, waterfalls, teak timber, bamboo bushes and the sandalwood trees. In this region also millet was grown and wild bees are the source of honey and the same was mixed with the millet powders grinded with the support of rocky materials. Mullai or Jasmine is the flower of the forests. The theme of the forest and of Shepherds at play the image of confident waiting for the loved one, produced an original offshoot; for this is the region of Maayon (The Ancient Tamil God) and the love theme it represents symbolizes the devotee waiting in the hope that the Maayon will eventually come and fill his soul, thus experiencing the joys of expectation (Table 2). To represent the significance of land, the poem in Kurunthogai (234) is presented below.

 

The Sun goes down and the Sky Reddens,

Pain grows Sharp, Light dwindles and Evening sets;

When Jasmine opens their petals, the deluded say-But

Evening is the great brightening dawn when crested cocks crow all through the tall city and

The evening is the whole day to the lovers without their partner.

 

1.3 Marutham landscape

The plains were the scene of triangular love plots in which the hero’s visits to the courtesan oblige the heroine to counter with a mixed show of coquetry and moodiness, tactics whose limits are described in Thirukkural (“Sulking is like Flavoring with Salt; a little suffices, but it is easy to go too far”). Indira, the god of Thunderstorm, is the god of Marutham land. Marutham is represented by Lagerstroemia species. The Heroine of the Marutham landscape depicts like this which is presented in Kurunthogai-31.

 

Nowhere, not among the warriors at their Festival,

Nor with the Girls dancing close in pairs,

Nowhere did I see him.

I am a Dancer-for love of him

The Absence of my love forced

The Conch-Shell Bangles slip from my Wasting Hand.

 

1.4 The Neythal landscape

The Sea and the Seashore affords many examples of the compelling charm of the Sangam Poetry and the extraordinary freshness of its realism. From behind the conventional symbolization of waiting there emerges the picture of the fisherfolk, the nets and their boats drawn up on the beach, crawling crabs and the ever-flow of fragrance from the drying fish, the birds from the sky will be watching for the fresh or the dry fish gets wasted by the fisherfolk and the young girls from the fisher village sliding on the sand for fetching the dried and fresh fishes. While sliding on the sand, the hairs are also get released from the hair bundle and search the lover on all the sides of the seashore are the representations of the Neythal Landscape. Varuna, the water god, is worshipped in this landscape seeking the rain to come on needs. The symbolizing flower is Water Lilly. A Poem in Ainkurunuru depicts its specialties of the landscape which is presented below.

 

Water Lillies Bloom in the Lagoons;

Where Cranes walk along the Sides

Searching the water lilies for fish

Flyaway with Fish to stay with seaside groves

Near my Lovers Village washed by the Sea;

For her,

The Love is greater than the Sea. -Ainkurunuru-184.

 

1.5 Paalai landscape

In Classical Tamil, the Paalai or Wasteland is not seen as being a naturally occurring ecology. Ilampuranar, in his commentary on the Tholkappiyam, explains that the landscape of the wasteland with which the Paalai is associated emerges when other landscapes whither under the heat of the burning sun. Paalai could thus be seen as a mixture of Mullai landscape and Kuringi Landscape tracts, rather than as a mere sandy area. Here the representative tree is identified as Wrightia tinctoria. A poem represents the love significance in the Paalai landscape. Kottravai or Kaali is the god of this landscape who protects the landscape and the people.

 

They will not dig up the earth and enter into it;

They will not climb into the Sky;

They will not walk across the Sea;

If we Search Every Country,

Every City,

Every Village,

Can our respective lovers escape us? -Kurunthogai-130

 

It is believed that the archeological evidence in the form of animal remains and artefacts are a more reliable guide to the changes in the land in centuries past than the literature evidence. The people in these landscapes do hunting of animals for their food, cultivation or collection of the millets grown in the landscapes, rearing of sheep and goats and hunting of honey are all went together in their walk of life. There was no watertight division as prevalent in this century between hunter-gatherer, herder and cultivator. Long before the times referred to by the Sanskrit texts, wild animals were a major source of meats in the various sites of the Harappan civilization. Over one thousand sites across North Western India and a range of bones of wild life including Hare, Jackal, the Great Indian One horned Rhino, Wild Ass and the Elephants have been found. These make up to a fifth of the animal remains in many sites in the Indus Valley. In Western Indian Sites, most seeds found in the old dwellings are of wild plant species now extinct in the Region.

 

Some changes in faunal and floral distribution were found probably due to the result of climatic shifts such as increasing drought in some of the tracts of these regions. Others may have been due to the impact of the human actions in the earlier period. The Swamp Deer was found in Baluchistan till around 300 BC. Its local extinction was probably the result of over hunting or over exploitation. Its vulnerability to such changes hastened its disappearance, though it survived along the Indus River till about a century ago. While people hunted a wide spectrum of wild animals, they herded only a few varieties. Contrary to what was believed till recently, 2,000 years before the Christian era did not see extensive denudation across much of the Indo Gangetic Plain. Iron tools and fire are often celebrated in ancient Sanskrit texts as being responsible for replacing forests with farm land and nature with culture. There is no doubt that cultivation, domestication, the taming of animals like Elephant and the Rooster, the Water buffalo, Bear and the Zebu cow were the major land marks.

 

In Ancient India, the Rulers believed and claimed that the forest lands, woods, mountainous areas are their own. The forests were so immense that even a few centuries after the composition of Valmiki’s Ramayanam in its final form, there were vast wooded areas even across the plains of Northern Part of India. The Chinese Traveller Hieun-Tswang in his travels across the India during 7th Century AD refers repeatedly to the immensity of the forested spaces that made travel unsafe and difficult. Thus it can be said that epics and other narratives provide only a glimpse of what forests in Ancient India were like.

 

Even during the 18th and 19th Century, the forests, wood species, wild fauna, flora are millions and now they have become countable numbers in the current century. The rate of depletion has to be studied by the Wild Life Institutes established for the purpose. In India, there were so many institutions which are unproductive and the institution should care for the wild animals, assessing their database, documentation and publication periodically will result in some accountability to the authorities. 

 

2 Forests in the Maurian Dynasty

Before Chandra Gupta Maurya established a relatively big empire about 300 BC, the territory in the country was divided among various rulers whose kingdoms extended to small geographical units. The ancient period was marked by destruction rather than any attempt on conservation of forests. Chanakya, the Prime Minister to Chandra Gupta Mauriya, did release the need to establish a Forest Administration considering the unscrupulous way of hunting or destroying the valuable forest resources. He not only appointed a Superintendent of Forests, but also classified the forests on a Functional basis.

 

Chanakya and his Arthasastra considered for ages as the source and spirit of Econo-Political frame work, which could be referred to at any moment of time of crisis or otherwise. His managerial acumen had been too significantly expressed for the maintenance of a stable flora and prosperous eco-system. He had made viable reforms in flora management as well as in Economies and Polities. Probably, he was aware and convinced of the importance of the flora as the major and unique component of eco-system that provides everything to rest of the biotic world.

 

Chanakya’s knowledge of various categories of plants, their products, socio-religious uses, economic benefits and medicinal properties is well reflected in Arthasastra. It is found that during the Mauriya period with the Prime Ministership of Chanakya Forest Administration was classified as:

 

• Forests set apart for the study of Religion;

• Forests Reserved for the supply of Forest Produce for the Forest based industries;

• Forests set apart for the grazing of Royal Elephants;

• Forests Reserved for hunting by the Royalty;

• Forests open to Public for Hunting and Entertainment.

 

So, from that very time concept of reserved forest for various purposes created. In that time there was also special conservation of elephants. Because the elephants was domesticated by the Harappian times, but it was only later that it began to be put in wider use. It was at the same time used as medium of transportation, as military war craft, as a sign of status and a mobile platform to hunt in tall grass country. But the war elephants on which imperial Magadha based its military strength were ideal supporters of Power Monopoly. The eastern environment of Magadha provided an ample supply of wild elephants, but maintenance was of greater importance than supply. The entrance of elephants into Indian Military history around 500 BC when Chandragupta Mauriya gifted 500 elephants to Seleuks Nikator was one of the most important military aid and transactions in the Ancient World.

 

According to Mahesh Rangarajan in India’s wildlife History, “The protection of elephants became serious business by the time of Mauryan rulers such as Ashoka. The Arthashastra, containing maxims of ancient statecraft, lays down the duties of the protector of the Elephant Forests. Even the tusks of animals dying from natural causes in the forest were to be handed over to the government”. The same rule of custom is still established in the wildlife protection Act. It is therefore, no surprise that in the Maurya period, the punishment was very high for unauthorized killing of an elephant. So in my observation for feeding the elephants forest was reserved. Because the elephants can won or lost a war for an emperor. In other way for game entertainment and for supply of fuel wood the forests were protected. In Mauryan time forests was a state property, its proper maintenance and use had been undertaken by the state officials. This was a separate department controlled by a head Samaharta similar to a Collector. There were several subordinated persons appointed under a superintendent of forest to look after every related matter of the forest. The officials were divided with their duties, responsibilities and accountabilities. The superintendent was entitled to collect the forest produce like timber, fruits, fibers, medicines etc., process it, store it, fix the price and sell it at proper time in the market. He too was responsible to provide water or irrigation facility to the forest plants during drought or other seasons. The superintendent of forest was empowered to impose penalty or fine for miss utilizing forest products or destruction of vegetation.

 

3 Forests in the Moghul Dynasty

The Mughals made no attempts on Forest Conservation. They did not even realize the need of it. Perhaps the reason that, they came from dry arid lands, where there are no concept of forestry or Forest Conservation. To Mughals Rulers, Forests meant no more than wooded lands where they could hunt and collect some revenue. There was restriction on cutting of trees other than some specific Royal Trees which are of Timber and Construction Importance. Only during the time of Shershah Suri, Plantation of trees along the Delhi Patna Highway was carried out. The Mughals were not forest motivated as such, but they were fond of creating an exquisite gardens in principal cities.

 

From environment conservation point of view, a significant contribution of Mughal emperors has the establishment of Magnificent Gardens, Fruit Orchards and Green Parks, in and around their palaces, Central and provincial headquarters, public places, on the banks of the rivers and in the valley and dales which they used as holiday resorts or places of retreat or temporary headquarters during the summer season (Kailash, 1997).

 

It is found that in the first twelve years of his reign alone, the King Jahangir alone killed over 17,000 animals. They included as many as 889 Nilgai, 86 Tigers and Lions and 1,670 antelopes. Elephants were caught later in the sixteenth century from parts of central India like Hoshangabad, Raisen and Chanderi. At one stage there were over 12,000 elephant in the possession of Emperor Jahangir (Mahesh, 2001).

 

4 Forests in the Early British Period

Early British Period formed the basis for destruction of wild life. In the same time of British period with destroying of woodland they have fought war against wild species. They were a scourge to be wiped out. Such practices were new to India; no previous ruler had ever attempted to exterminate any species. District level administration went out of its way and facilitated hunts, local landed gentry lent their elephants. Officers and soldiers in cantonments were encouraged to spend their vacations acquiring more trophies. The Rhino and wild buffalo, major prey items, vanished from the North Bengal Plains by the 1850s; in the drier regions, the Nilgai became scarce. In fact, the numbers of animals killed for rewards were often a good index of the land deforested for agricultural expansion. Over 80,000 Tigers, more than 150,000 Leopards and 200,000 Wolves were slaughtered in the fifty years from 1875 to 1925 (Rangarajan Mahesh, 2001).

 

The primary aim of the Britishers was to utilize the resources of the colony to meet the industrial requirements in their home country and the administrative expenditure in the colony. In their policy, there were two benefits in a single event: Clearing the woodland means selling of timbers and side by side it would create new farmland in the cleared forest land. For this reason they have appointed a certain number of paid Tiger-killers or Snake-destroyers. Fewer Tigers mean more cultivation and more revenue. Unprecedentedly, larger rewards were given out for killing of Tigresses, and Special prizes for finishing off Tiger Cubs. A continuum of tree forest, savannah and abandoned farmland was giving way to a countryside divided into two landscapes, of cultivated space or of forest. 

 

5 Use of Forests in Different Ages

Forestry is a relatively new science. But forests are older than man. Man has made different uses of forests in different periods. In ancient times forest were being used for religious purpose, hunting and shelter of war victims. Thereafter the forests are being used for revenue earning by the different rulers. Forest was the last resort of cave dwellers to the present generation who are economically depending upon the wealth of the forest (Table 3). Forests have nourished the human beings with motherly care in the time of war and natural calamities.

 

Table 3 Using of forests in different ages

Note: (Source: Lal J.B., 1989)

 

6 Forest Conservation During Colonial Movement

In 1855, the Government of India issued a memorandum outlining the rules for the conservation of forests for the country, India. A qualified Forester, Dr. Dietrich Brandis, who was later called as the Father of Indian Forests was appointed as the First Inspector General of Forests in 1864. The First Indian Forest Act was drafted in 1865. A revised Indian Forest Act came into existence in 1878 and it was made operational in most of the provinces of India. For the first time, the forests were classified into Reserved and Protected Forests. In 1927, the Act of 1878 was consolidated to regulate the law relating to Forests and Forest Produce.

 

The first Forest School was opened in Dehradun in 1878. The Provincial Forest Service was inaugurated in 1891. Thereafter, the Technical Education and Training in Forests were organized. The Imperial Forest Research Institute was established in 1906 at Dehradun. In 1910, the Board of Forestry was created at the National level under the Chairmanship of the Inspector-General of Forests. The National Character in Forest Administration was considerably diluted with political changes in 1921 when forests became a provincial subject and their administration came to rest in the Government of the Concerned Provinces or State of the Country.

 

7 Classification of Recorded Forest Area (RFA)

According to Indian Forest Act, 1927, the forest areas of the state classified in to three major categories. They are Reserved Forests; Protected Forests and Unclassed Forests. The legal status of the forestry can be classified are furnished as follows:

 

7.1 Reserved forests

An area notified under the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927 having full degree of protection. Inside the Reserved forests all the activities are prohibited unless specifically permitted under section 20 of IFA, 1927. 

 

7.2 Protected forests

An area notified under the provisions of the Indian Forest Act having limited degree of Protection. Inside the Protected Forests, all the activities are permitted unless prohibited under section 29 of IFA, 1927.

 

7.3 Unclassed forests

An area recorded as Forest but not included in the Reserved Forest category or Protected Forest Category. The Ownership status of such forests varies from state to state.

 

8 Forest Conservation during Post Independence

8.1 National forest policy-1952

The Forest Policy Resolution 1894 had five major setbacks. They are:

 

• It has permitted and Treated Forestry as Subordinate sector to Agriculture;

• It does not give much emphasis to Protective and Regulative Services provided by the Forests;

• It did not stipulate to the concept of Sustained Yield Practices;

• It did not suggest the protection of forests from the harmful practices of Taungya system of cultivation;

• It did not suggest any mechanisms to control over grazing of cattle and small ruminants.

 

The New Forest Policy in 1952 was drafted to overcome the ill effects of the existing forest policy during 1894. The new policy recognized the protective functions of forests and specifically stated that the notion that forestry has no intrinsic right to land but many be permitted on the residual land not required for any other purposes, should be discarded. It has also prescribed that the country should have one third of the total geographical area under forests to meet the ecological requirements of forests. The Forest Policy of 1952 suggested that while in the plains where erosion is not a major issue, a proportion of 20 per cent be attained, in mountainous regions liable to high erosion, the percentage of the land under forests should be much higher and at least it should be around 60 per cent.

 

The Policy advocated the concept of sustained yield in the management of all classes of forests. On the controversial subject of grazing permits, the policy left no ambiguity in its enunciations. Continuous and cheap grazing should not be allowed in Forests especially for goats and the sheep grazing be allowed and the population for grazing permits should also be reduced. Besides, the policy of 1952 has advocated the functional classification of forests. The classification suggested was Protection Forests; National Forests; Village Forests and Tree Lands. The details are presented below:

 

8.1.1 Protection forests

Those forests must be preserved or newly created for physical and climatic considerations.

 

8.1.2 National forests

Those forests have to be managed for the purposes of fulfilling the requirements of Defense, Communications, Industry and other general purposes of public importance.

 

8.1.3 Village forests

Those which have to be maintained to provide the fuel wood requirements to release the Cow-dung manure for the purposes of agriculture and horticulture sectors, to provide the small timber requirements for the farmers who intend to prepare or produce farm implements and the non-timber forest produce for medicinal and household requirements and to provide permission for cattle grazing.

 

8.1.4 Tree-lands

Tree-Lands are to be established in the areas outside the forests through ordinary forest management principles for environmental amelioration.

 

After the independence, the Government of India has introduced the forest policy of 1952, in general, has advocated the commercial exploitation of the forests and the same was continued during post-independence and they considered the forests as one of the revenue earning sector. However, the National Forest Policy of 1988 has changed the scene drastically.

 

Over the years of British Period and even after the independence, the Government of India felt that the forest denudation process is increasing and the same should be stopped from further degradation. The degradation was continuous for want of Fuel wood, fodder, timber, industrial wood and due to the inadequate protection measures taken up by the forest departments of respective state after handing over the management of forests to the state Governments across the country. After reviewing the previous policy, monitoring mechanisms in vogue with the Forest Department, the National Forest Policy of 1988 was enunciated.

 

8.2 Salient features of national forest policy, 1988

The main objectives of National Forest Policy, 1988 is Forest Protection; Forest Conservation and the Development of Forests. The concept of development of forests is the new one which need to be given special thrust to protect the forests from depletion. The salient features of the Forest Policy, 1988 is presented for everyone’s innovation, implementation of related activities in the forest floor.

 

• Maintenance of Environmental Stability through preservation and restoration of Flora and Fauna and thereby lead to Ecological Balance;

• Checking Soil Erosion and Denudation in the Catchment areas of Rivers, Reservoirs, Lakes and in the Estuarine environments;

• Checking the Spread of Sand Dunes in Desert areas of Rajasthan and along the Coastal Tracts of India;

• Enhancing the Forest/Tree Cover through Afforestation following the concept of Social Forestry and Agroforestry;

• Taking steps to meet the requirements of Wood, Fuel, Food, Fodder, Fruits, Fiber, Floss and other Non-Timber Forest Produce of Rural and Tribal Population;

• Enhancing the Productivity of Forests to meet the National Needs;

• Encouraging Efficient Utilization of Forest Produce and to suggest Optimality concept in the usage of Timber or Wood;

• Advocation of Joint Forest Management by involving the Tribes in Forest Management and Afforestation related activities;

• Promotion of Forest Development Agencies and providing linkages with Tribal Institutions like Village Forest Council for better protection and afforestation related matters.

 

The main drawback of the National Forest Policy of 1988 was “No official definition given to the term Forest, which may comprise of a ‘Self-Sown’ area which supports the community of creatures which dependent on the plants and interdependent on each other by exhibiting a Mutualistic and Commensalism of life”.

 

8.3 The draft national forest policy-2016

The Forest Survey of India report released during December 2015, showed that the India’s Forest and Tree Cover makes up only to the level of 24 per cent to the Total Geographical Area. But a healthy nation should have at least an overall of 33 per cent forest cover both in the forests and the tree cover in the plains leaving a gap of almost 10 per cent. Achieving the 33 per cent forest cover needs a planned policy approaches for the country and hence it is planned to revisit the National Forest Policy, 1988 and the task have been entrusted to the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal and the institute had delivered a Draft National Forest Policy during 2016.

 

The Vision of the National Forest Policy, 2016 aims to improve the health and vitality of the forest ecosystems to meet the present and future needs of ecological security, livelihood sustenance and conserving biological diversity. It endeavors to safeguard our natural heritage, cultural identify and social capital and bequeath it in full measure to our future generations.

 

The Draft National Forest Policy, 2016 marks a paradigm shift, by switching the focus from Forests to the Landscapes, From Canopy Cover to the Healthy Ecosystems, From Substituting wood to Promoting Sustainable Wood use, from Participatory approaches to Empowerment, from Joint Forest Management to Community Forest Management and from Qualitative policy statements to a Results based policy framework.

 

8.4 The special emphasis of draft national forest policy 2016

It provides new policy directions on integrating climate change concerns in Forest Management, Managing Forest Catchments and the Watersheds to revive the Streams, enabling the establishment of Wild Life Corridors, incentivizing sustainability in community managed, community owned and private forests, Expanding urban green cover and developing a National Forest Information System with special emphasis on Good Governance, Transparency, Proactive disclosure and an effective on ground translation of the policy following an Implementation frame work with Periodic Review.

 

The Policy has the potential to lift the forest dwellers out of Poverty, breathe vitality back into our wilderness and accelerate the inclusive growth of our nation.

 

8.5 Salient features of draft national forest policy, 2016

• Proposes to levy the Green Tax for facilitating ecologically responsible behavior and supplementary financial resources essential to address the forestry problems. Environmental Cess, Carbon Tax, Green Tax, may be levied on certain products and services of Forest origin;

• Promotion of Agroforestry through Joint Forest Management Principles. For that the better services of Tribes will be used;

• Forest Management Mission to facilitate the supply of wood to wood based industries through the Community Forest Management approaches by bringing Government, Community and the Private Land under one umbrella;

• Technology to minimize damage to forests through Land diversion projects like Mining, Quarrying, Dams, Roads and other linear Structure;

• National Board of Forestry and State Board of Forestry will be established to monitor the Management of Forest areas and the spread of forest areas and Management of Forest cover;

• Provisions for establishing ‘Sound Eco-Tourism Models’ with focus on conservation while supplementing the livelihood needs of local communities;

• Climate Change to emerge as important factor. Management Plans and Community Eco System Management Plans are advocated;

• Purchase of Wildlife Corridor from the Common Public;

• Maintaining Urban Forests and Urban Greening through the establishment of Parks, Gardens and Wood lands.

 

While examining the special features in the Draft National Forest Policy, 2016, it is quite different concept and policy directions. But effective implementation and monitoring are the twin eyes with the officials of Forest Department which needs the ownership within their minds and they should feel and cherish to accomplish the plans.

 

However, it is learnt through newspapers that the environment and forest ministry has not issued any draft notification on this Draft National Forest Policy, 2016. The Statement of the Ministry is “The uploaded forest policy is a study done by the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal. The study has not been evaluated by the Ministry. The Ministry has not taken any decision on the Draft National Forest Policy. The Study report prepared by the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal was inadvertently uploaded as Draft Forest Policy on the website” (The Hindu, 2016). From that one could infer that some confusion has crept the minds of policy makers. But in general, the policy making rights has to be awarded to an independent agency like Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) Bhopal and the final report has to be discussed in a higher forum and the new forest policy has to be implemented at the earliest. The 2016 policy is still pending with the Government is not advisable for the holistic development of forest sector.

 

8.6 Summary of conservation in different ages

The review of forest status and its importance in different periods indicate that the kingdoms in different periods are in favor of conservation of forests followed by the Moghul dynasty had not given much attention towards conservation of forests but gave much importance to establishment of gardens, parks in the city during their empire. Followed by the British Period was using aggressive land use for tea gardens, estates, plantation crops development by removing the dense forests and the valuable timbers have been exported for their home country for making railway sleepers and for household purposes and hunting of wild animals became their routine activity besides generating revenue to the Government. So Conservation focus is not much pronounced in the early British period. But later on, the National Forest Policy was enunciated in 1952, forests were classified and ear marked for various purposes and development. The commercial focus given in the National Forest Policy of 1952 were changed and a New Forest Policy of 1988 was developed to give full thrust to conservation of forests. The 1988 Forest Policy also has not taken much effort on action based issues and hence the Draft National Forest Policy 2016 was developed which gave much attention towards action oriented activities focusing policy implementation and review of action taken to enhance results based actions.

 

In this situation, during the post-independence period, certain organizations have become functional and take over the responsibility of conservation related measures. In this circumstance, the role of Forest Conservation Organizations are discussed in detail in the ensuing section.

 

9 Conservation Organizations in India

The forest conservation is taken up both in the Government level as well as in the non-governmental organization level. In the Government Side, the Department of Forests and Wildlife at state level are implementing the Government programs and schemes with the knowledge of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

 

9.1 The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of India's environmental and forestry policies and programs.

 

The primary concerns of the Ministry are implementation of policies and programs relating to conservation of the country's natural resources including its lakes and rivers, its biodiversity, forests and wildlife, ensuring the welfare of animals, and the prevention and abatement of pollution. While implementing these policies and programs, the Ministry is guided by the principle of sustainable development and enhancement of human well-being.

 

The Ministry also serves as the nodal agency in the country for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), South Asia Co-operative Environment Program (SACEP), and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and for the follow-up of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The Ministry is also entrusted with issues relating to multilateral bodies such as the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and of regional bodies like Economic and Social Council for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) and South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) on matters pertaining to the environment.

 

The broad objectives of the Ministry are:

 

• Conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests and wildlife

• Prevention and control of pollution

• Afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas

• Protection of the environment and

• Ensuring the welfare of animals

 

These objectives are well supported by a set of legislative and regulatory measures, aimed at the preservation, conservation and protection of the environment. Besides the legislative measures, the National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment Development (1992); National Forest Policy (1988); Policy Statement on Abatement of Pollution (1992), and the National Environment Policy (2006) are guiding the Ministry in all aspects related to environment, forests, climate change and pollution. The Major Schemes in Vogue with Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to protect the Wild animals are Project Tiger; Project Elephant, Crocodile Conservation Project, Vulture Conservation Project etc. Besides implementation of several projects, one has to conduct population assessment periodically through census. Though Wildlife Census is conducted periodically, documentation of its population, food resources, diversity details etc., are not up to date and the data is found to be erratic across the states and hence a statistical division has to be strengthened at the Ministry level and at the state level. The Department of Economics and Statistics is devoid of such statistics was mainly due to the absence of data with the Department of Forests.

 

The Other organizations in support of wild life conservation either in direct association with MOEFCC or with the support of MOEFCC and their glimpses of activities are presented below.

 

9.2 The Corbett Foundation (TCF)

The Corbett Foundation involves actions taken by passionate men and women who wish to protect wildlife and bring forth harmony. This Foundation raises funds, conserves various ecosystems, draws the government’s attention towards major wildlife issues and promotes wildlife research projects. This foundation works for protection of other regions such as Bandhavgarh, Kutch and Kanha as well.

 

The Corbett Foundation (TCF) was established by Mr. Dilip D. Khatau, a former Member of the National Board for Wildlife in India and a Member of the Indian Wildlife Business Council of the Confederation of Indian Industry, on April 22, 1994. TCF is a charitable trust, a non-profit and a non-governmental organization that is fully dedicated to the conservation of wildlife. Apart from being a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and a Member of the Global Tiger Forum, TCF is also an activity partner with the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, The Ramsar Convention and the Born Free Foundation. TCF has been accredited by Credibility Alliance under the Desirable Norms for Voluntary Organizations in India.

 

9.2.1 The accomplishments of TCF

TCF is the recipient of the WWF-PATA Tiger Conservation Award in 2000, TOFT-Sanctuary Wildlife Tourism Award for the best Wildlife Tourism Related Community Initiative of the Year 2014, Kirloskar Vasundhara Mitra Award 2015 and a Certificate of Merit at the World CSR Congress in 2016. TCF is represented on the State Wildlife Advisory Boards of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and was represented on the State Wildlife Board of Uttarakhand in the past. It is also represented on the State-level Bustard Conservation Committee of Gujarat and the Local Advisory Committee of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh.

 

9.2.2 Program implementation by TCF

TCF has implemented its programs in over 400 villages in Corbett, Kutch, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Kaziranga in the last two decades. Local communities and wildlife share natural ecosystems and this often gives rise to conflict. The health and wellbeing of local communities is directly linked to their willingness to participate in wildlife conservation efforts towards maintaining healthy ecosystems. TCF has adopted a multipronged strategy to help in creating a future where wildlife and human beings live in harmony; thus laying thrust on the following initiatives:

 

• Reducing Man-Animal Conflicts

• Providing Sustainable Livelihoods

• Providing Healthcare to Forest-dependent Communities

• Promoting Environmental Awareness

• Promoting Renewable Energy

• Promoting Integrated Watershed Management

• Treating Domestic Livestock

 

TCF has a staff-strength of around 80 dedicated individuals including professional, administrative and support staff. TCF’s team consists of passionate people from diverse disciplines and highly specialized fields such as wildlife sciences, life sciences, social sciences, veterinary sciences, geography, herpetology, entomology, medical sciences, engineering, rural development, public health, education, public relations, advertising and business management. For a particular project, a team is put together with the appropriate blend of expertise.

 

9.3 Wild Life Institute of India

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, located in the Southern Forests of Dehradun, Uttarakhand was established during the year 1982 with an aim to provide training, and to promote wildlife education, research and management. WII is actively involved in research of biodiversity and major wildlife issues in India.

 

WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Eco development, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change. WII has a research facility which includes Forensics, Remote Sensing and GIS, Laboratory, Herbarium, and an Electronic Library. Trained personnel from WII have contributed in studying and Protecting Wild life in India. WII has also popularized wildlife education in India and their careers. Training courses were organized periodically to the Indian Forest Service personnel working different states of India regarding the wildlife education, management and conflict handling issues diligently.

 

9.4 Wild Life Protection Society of India (WPSI)

Founded by Belinda Wright, an award-winning wildlife photographer and filmmaker, Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) works to manage the intractable wildlife crisis in India. The main aim of WPSI is to inform the government about poaching and wildlife trade, especially the Tigers. WPSI even works for mitigating human-animal conflicts and promotes research projects.

 

9.4.1 Tiger conservation effort by WPSI

The Strategy for Tiger conservation in India revolves around the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Wild life protection Act, 1972. Between the Mid 1970s and Mid 1980s, many protected areas (66 National Parks and 421 wild life sanctuaries were set aside, including large tracts of Tiger habitat. They were later increased to 102 National Parks, 515 Wild life Sanctuaries and 44 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves. This has resulted in an increase in Tiger densities at many locations. Rampant poaching for the trade in Tiger parts or products destined for markets outside India now threatens the existence of Tiger.

 

Prevailing conservation efforts are not geared towards, nor have they adequately addressed, the new threats with new protection strategies through better training, better law enforcement, and support. Excellent new Tiger protection measures based on the recommendations of the Subramanian Committee established for the prevention of Illegal Trade in Wild life during the year 1994 and Tiger Task Force (2005) have been proposed but not implemented or little effective action has been taken in the field. Few of the Tiger reserves have an established intelligence network and most of our Tiger reserves do not have an armed strike force or basic infrastructure and equipment to combat poaching related activities in the forest environment.

 

The last meeting of the National Board of Wildlife was held on 18th March 2010, Large Development Projects such as Mining, Thermal and Hydroelectric Dams are also taking their toll on the Tiger’s habitat. In the past ten years, thousands of square kilometers of forest land have been diverted and destroyed to facilitate such projects.

 

Since 1994, WPSI has made a concerted effort to gather accurate information on Tiger poaching occurring throughout India. A total of 923 Tigers are known to have been killed from 1994 to 2010. WPSI’s extensive data base of Tigers Poached has detailed information on poaching figures collected by WPSI. These figures, however, are reported cases and represent only a fraction of the actual poaching activity in India.

 

9.5 Wild Life Conservation Trust, Mumbai

Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) works to protect the vulnerable animals and biodiversity of India through spreading awareness across forest departments and NGOs. WCT even trains individuals for wildlife conservation.

 

9.5.1 Activities of WCT

The Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) currently works in over 130 national parks and sanctuaries of India across 23 states, covering 82 per cent of 50 Tiger reserves and 18 per cent of 733 nature reserves. With over 3.50 million people living inside Tiger reserves and several hundred million dependent on natural ecosystems, we cannot separate communities from conservation. Thus, WCT lays equal emphasis on wildlife conservation and community development for the betterment of ecosystem development.

 

The communities living in and around India’s forests depend heavily on forest produce to supplement their income. We help impart vocational training to young people and co-ordinate with over 100 job providers to find them gainful employment, thereby reducing their dependency on forests and negative impact on forest environment.

 

WCT well understood the value of education to a child’s future and work extensively with government schools in forests by building the capacity of teachers, providing infrastructural support and creating alternative avenues for learning.

 

Realizing that these remotely-located communities lack access to quality healthcare, WCT conduct health camps, providing relief to both villagers and forest department staff. Our efforts in these three arenas are greatly complimented by our protection initiatives.

 

WCT work closely with forest departments to ensure that they have the best equipment and training to carry out their duties. In a first of its kind initiative, WCT provided multi-utility rescue vehicles to parks to tackle man-animal conflicts and also equipped 2,100 Anti-poaching Camps in over 60 parks. Our team has imparted enforcement training to over 8,700 staff and continues to conduct sessions in forest institutes. Above all, WCT conduct scientific research to push for more robust wildlife management policies.

 

9.6 Wild Life SOS, India

Established in 1995 by Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani, Wildlife SOS works against animal violence, resolves human-animal conflicts, rescues wildlife during crisis and educates people about habitat protection. Initially started to stop bears from dancing in circuses, today Wildlife SOS even has projects to rescue elephants, leopards, reptiles and various other animals.

 

9.6.1 Activities of Wild Life SOS, India

Wild life rescue and rehabilitation

The primary reason for the founding of Wildlife SOS has been to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife in distress in both urban and rural environments. Wildlife SOS rescues a number of orphaned, injured, and displaced wildlife found in cities and locations from wherever they work in India. Injured animals are given medical treatment and many are released back into the wild. Where this is not possible, permanent homes are provided for the animals at one of our many rescue facilities.

 

Tribal rehabilitation programs

In order to ensure the success of any conservation effort it is absolutely essential to have the cooperation and more so the active support of communities affected by the protection of a species or habitat. Wildlife SOS firmly believes that to save bears and other endangered species in India need the support of the millions of people who live in and around wildlife habitats and depend on them for their survival-and one can gain the support if the SOS respect, understand and are sensitive to their needs and aspirations.

 

In 2002, Wildlife SOS started work on the rehabilitation of the Kalandar communities (originally Muslim gypsies with a highly nomadic lifestyle were famous for their mastery over animals) through education and an alternative livelihood program as an extension of the dancing bear rescue project. Over the years working with these communities, living in their villages, we had gained their trust. By empowering them to earn incomes (through dignified and legal means) and improve their living standards, we had shown our commitment to providing them a life of quality. Over 3,000 families spread out through six states and over 15 villages; have received support to become economically self-sufficient over a period of 12 years.

 

Mitigation of man animal conflicts

Wildlife SOS has run the only 24-hour animal rescue hotline in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) and in Agra, UP and in Vadodara, Gujarat for the past two decades. The City’s Police Control Room, Administration Department and Forest Department know that they can count on Wildlife SOS to respond efficiently and safely to calls for help and so they also divert any Wildlife Rescue calls they receive to our team in these respective cities.

 

Wildlife SOS addresses 300 Reptile Rescue calls every month. Our rescue team includes experienced snake handlers who are equipped with snake hooks and boxes to ensure that every reptile is rescued in the most efficient and professional manner ensuring minimal stress to the animal and the people involved. Be it a Cobra in a toilet, a monitor lizard that has accidentally strayed into a school, a peacock poisoned by pesticide, a deer or antelope loose on a golf course or at the airport, our well trained team endeavors to safely rescue these animals, birds or reptiles from high risk situations.

 

Awareness creation on conservation aspects

Wildlife SOS recognizes that human caring and understanding is crucial to saving wild animals and protecting the habitats they need to survive. Our activities rest with both rural and urban communities to educate people about the surrounding environment and the animals. Education takes many forms, from showing people the little things they can do to help the environment to techniques for avoiding human wildlife conflicts. Wildlife SOS has also been working to resolve man-wildlife conflicts by educating villagers, tribal communities and farmers who live in conflict zones.

 

Wildlife SOS has been conducting awareness programs to educate the public and encourage responsible community participation in conservation initiatives such as tree plantation drives in association with the school authorities of Jammu & Kashmir, cleaning plastics from Bannerghatta to cleaning the Dal Lake with schools and colleges. Students and volunteers learn about animal conservation and behavior and going forward these students organize rallies to grow awareness about wildlife conservation and protection amongst their communities. We work towards educating local village communities, school children and college-aged youth about avoidance behavior in the presence of bears and other wild animals and sustainable livelihood without destroying the environment or encroaching the buffer areas.

 

Anti-Poaching activity

A large quantity and variety of wildlife products are smuggled from India to international markets. These include live animals such as birds and reptiles, along with skins, bones and other body parts from poached animals. Historically, sloth bear cubs were poached from the wild for use in the ‘dancing’ bear trade within India, but with the eradication of the ‘Dancing Bear’ practice there was a marked reduction in bear poaching as per statistics. Wildlife SOS rescued 72 Sloth Bear Cubs before they could be traded around over a period of 10 years. We have recovered animal skins and ivory from poachers and traders in numerous Indian states as well.

 

Wildlife SOS’s Anti-Poaching team, code name “Forest Watch”, works by way of a large and complex network of informers who gather critical intelligence on wildlife criminals and the illegal trade of endangered wild animals and their body parts. Wildlife SOS actively assists the Forest Department, Police and other law enforcement agencies and provides legal support where ever needed.

 

Habitat protection for wild animals

Our habitat conservation project near the Ram durga Valley in Koppal, Karnataka aims at protecting precious sloth bear habitat. This land near village Ram Durga, Gangavati Taluk supports a rich biodiversity including endangered species like tortoises, leopards, wolf, Yellow throated bulbul and Pangolin. The habitat was critically endangered by illegal mining, encroachment and rapid deforestation. These forces, combined with ritual hunting by local communities, spelled doom for the wildlife in this area. With the aim of protecting and restoring habitats, Wildlife SOS in 2006 purchased nearly 40 acres of land near Ram Durga Village, to create a wildlife corridor and allow the vulnerable habitats that were at risk to link up with a Reserve Forest patch. By restoring this, Wildlife SOS provided protection to the ecosystem and biodiversity therein.

 

In April 2012, the habitat restoration project was expanded to an additional 10 acres with the generous support from BHEL, PSSR, Chennai. In consultation with horticulture experts saplings of tree and shrub species most appropriate for the area were selected and nearly 10,000 saplings planted. SOS has planted Mahuva, Neem, Arjuna, Mango, Amla, Indian Beech, Bamboo, Custard Apple, Indian Laburnum, Fig, Banyan, Jamun, Bauhenia, Bodhi and others along the 10 acre habitat restoration area and integrated irrigation to support native wetlands.

 

9.7 World Wide Fund for Nature, India

World Wildlife Fund-India started working at Horn Bill House, Mumbai. Today, WWF-India happens to be the largest voluntary organization which works for wildlife as well as nature conservation. WWF-India promotes various academic, field projects for biodiversity and even spreads awareness about enviro-legal actions. Through strategic alliance with TRAFFIC India, WWF-India helps state governments and agencies to stop illicit wildlife trade.

 

9.7.1 The activities of WWF, India

Taking into account that conservation threats stem mainly from human demand for food, water, energy and materials, and need for infrastructural space, WWF-India has been consistently working towards a strategy to quell the over utilization of the Earth’s natural resources. To this end, it believes that a multi-pronged approach whereby the different environmental challenges can be appropriately addressed.

 

WWF-India’s focus areas of work are climate change and energy, restoring freshwater bodies, sustainable agriculture, sustainable business, sustainable forestry, sustainable fisheries and sustainable finance.

 

Climate change and energy

It works to generate awareness about clean energy solutions such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, not only meet the environmental and energy security objectives, but also play a crucial role in reducing chronic power shortages.

 

Rivers for life, life for rivers

It has developed, validated and implemented some of the most innovative pathways and processes for sustainable water resources and energy management in the face of climate change. Their work includes methodologies for assessment of environmental flows (e-flows), water and energy footprint work with industries among other things.

 

Sustainable agriculture

This program was initially aimed at conserving freshwater from abundant use in agriculture and protecting its quality from chemical contamination. Thereafter, program started working with businesses to engage and promote sustainable sourcing of agricultural raw materials so as to reduce the environmental footprint in the supply base of international global brands and retailers.

 

Sustainable business

This program work with key stakeholders across industry to strike the balance between sustainable production and consumption. It is committed to helping businesses in making the best of these opportunities in order to realize realize a world in which green business is the only smart business.

 

Sustainable forestry

It seeks to reduce the country’s footprint by addressing key development and environmental issues that have an impact on the overall national and global footprint. It also aims to curb illegal logging through credible certification in the supply chain to improve environment, social and economic linkages and ultimately promoting responsible forestry.

 

Sustainable fisheries

This program works to promote the sustainable development of the Indian fishery sector. It believes that a sustainable business model in the context of the global fishing industry is imperative to prevent stocks from depleting and mitigating the various adverse effects on the environment.

 

9.8 Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)

Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), established in 1883, is associated with wildlife research and conservation in India for over 130 years. BNHS mainly focuses on research, education and public awareness about wildlife and nature.

 

BNHS has a vibrant presence at dozens of places across India covering diverse habitats such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, mountains, deserts and marine areas. This includes work in the Global Biodiversity Hotspots such as Western Ghats and Eastern Himalaya. Over 150 scientists and professionals work on and off the field to further the tasks of research, conservation and nature education. BNHS has been designated as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO) by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and is the Partner of Bird Life International in India.

 

9.8.1 Main activities and departments of BNHS include the following

• Natural History Collection

• Research on various species and habitats

• Conservation of landscapes and seascapes

• Environmental Information System

• Outreach (camps, exhibitions, lectures, other events)

• Conservation Education Centres

• Communications and Advocacy

• University Studies

• Library

• Wildlife Publications

• Souvenirs

 

9.8.2 A promising future

As India marches ahead in its quest for development and nation building, conservation of the natural environment remains a major challenge as well as an opportunity. In the true spirit of sustainable development, BNHS aims to continue its conservation mission with a professional approach and strong research background, while closely working with various stakeholders including government, research institutes, academia, corporates, civil society groups and the general public.

 

9.9 Centre for Wild Life Studies

Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) was established in 1984 in Bengaluru with the aim of promoting conservation of the Tiger and other large mammals, along with equal emphasis for ecology through collaboration with State and Central Governments. Today, CWS is an internationally known institute for excellence in the field of wildlife research and conservation.

 

CWS is recognized as a “Scientific and Industrial Research Organization” (SIRO) by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. CWS is also recognized as a centre of excellence by the Vision Group on Science and Technology, Government of Karnataka.

 

CWS is also recognized by Manipal University, Karnataka, for registering students pursuing doctoral degrees in wildlife biology and conservation.

 

CWS is a National NGO Member of the Global Tiger Forum (GTF) which is an international and inter-governmental organization for the conservation of Tigers in the wild.

 

CWS has collaborations (Memoranda of Understanding) with the National Center for Biological Sciences, Wildlife Institute of India, Duke University and the US Geological Survey.

 

A Board of Trustees with eminent citizens/conservationists as members oversees the activities of the CWS Trust. CWS has a Research Advisory Board, with reputed wildlife scientists as members to guide its research and academic programs.

 

9.10 Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF)

Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) works in varied animal habitats, including that of coral reefs, tropical rainforests and as far as the Himalayas. NCF works to know the fundamental needs of elephants, snow leopards and even spiders and corals. NCF even conducts research in order to address the impact of commercial usage and its effects on ecology.

 

9.10.1 Oceanic islands and coasts

NCF work in India's oceanic islands and coasts with a broad mandate to understand the basic ecology and behavior of these systems, how human communities interact with them, and the impact of disturbances-both regional and global-on this relationship.

 

As coral reefs across the tropics succumb to increasingly frequent ocean warming events in the wake of global climate change, documenting the consequences of these events on reef communities and their ability to resist and recover from them becomes critical. Our investigations in the Lakshadweep Archipelago and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands attempt to understand the factors that confer resilience on these systems.

 

9.10.2 Death and revival on coral reefs

The year 1998 was disastrous for reefs across the tropics. In the Lakshadweep, within a few short weeks of the El Niño raising sea surface temperatures here, we witnessed a massive mortality of corals across the archipelago as corals bleached and died. By the end of the year, our surveys showed that once vibrant reefs were reduced to a shadow of what they once were. We expected to see a familiar narrative begin to unfold in these reefs, where, after catastrophic mortality reefs are taken over by algae preventing the recovery of coral on these reefs.

 

9.10.3 The distribution and role of herbivores fish

It has become increasingly clear that herbivores play a critical role in driving the resilience of the Lakshadweep reefs by mediating competitive interactions between coral and algae, thereby making substrate available for recruitment and preventing a phase shift to an alternate stable state dominated by algae.

 

9.10.4 Accidental resilience of coral reefs

Our current work explores the ecological mechanisms underlying these patterns of resilience. Understanding how coral recruitment interacts with the stability of structures and local hydrodynamics appears to be a critical factor driving recovery. In addition, we are beginning to unpack how the distribution of fish herbivores and their function relate to their ability to control algal growth after coral mortality events.

 

9.11 People for Animals (PFA)

People for Animals, situated in Bangalore, is a non-profit organization which industriously works to maintain harmony between human and ecology. PFA’s main concern is crisis management and legalities with respect to wildlife care.

 

9.11.1 Activities of PFA

The wide variety of non-domesticated species that we find in the parks, lakes, fields, roads, gardens and structures of the city, in our neighboring forests, and on the untamed fringe lands of the city. Even the little birds in our balconies, the squirrels in our trees, the kites in our markets, and the snakes in our backyards are wild animals living amidst us. The Concept of PFA is 4R. They are Rescue, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Release. Their 4R activities are presented in Table 4.

 

 

Table 4 Details of 4R activities of People for Animals

 

Table 4 revealed the details of Rescue, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Release of small urban creatures. Among the total of 4R activities, spectacled Cobra found to dominate in their rescue process which is accounted for 28 per cent to the total lives rescued, recovered, rehabilitated and released followed by Black Kite, Rat Snake and Palm Squirrel which are respectively accounted for 18.60 per cent, 12.76 per cent and 10.82 per cent. All others are Parakeet, Macaque, Owl, Crow, Russel Viper, Brahminy Kite and Fruit Bats. Among the organizations, the people for animals and their activities are totally different which are warranted among the well-wishers.

 

9.12 People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

PETA, India has been functional in Mumbai since 2000. It works to survey the segments of society where animals are poorly treated, like in food or leather industries, entertainment industry etc. PETA, India is known for spreading public awareness, triggering animal rescue missions and legislative work, but most importantly for improving and saving the lives of innocent animals. The functions and activities of PETA became contradictory to certain culture particularly the South Indians where the bulls are treated as part of God and used in Breeding and development of Indigenous animals.

 

9.13 Conservation India  

Conservation India (CI) is a non-profit, non-commercial portal which is working in order to promote strategies for wildlife conservation. CI believes in working on ground rather than simply speaking about wildlife conservation.

 

CI define conservation as knowledge-driven actions that lead to the effective management and recovery of wildlife. That means giving priority to meeting the ecological needs of wildlife populations in decline, and to the recovery and expansion of their habitats.

 

CI is committed topromoting conservation strategies that are rooted in evidence. With wildlife and wild lands now reeling under unsustainable demands from all sectors-urban and rural, industrial and agricultural-there is little time left. Therefore, CI aspires to be a springboard for rational and practical conservation action, rather than a platform for theoretical debate.

 

10 Conclusions

Forest conservation is one of the major issue to protect the biodiversity. Protection of forests not only build the nation’s wealth but also add higher productivity by permitting mutualistic linkages. Though conservation is one of the issue dearer to the Mauriyan Dynasty, the same is unfriendly to the Moghul Dynasty and their preference were focused towards establishing big gardens in the city environment. Early British period thought that the Indian forests are capable of providing big revenue and hence they permitted full extraction of select timbers for railway sleepers and construction timbers in their home country. Post British period had witnessed the National forest policies of 1952 and 1988. The 1988 forest policy gave much impetus towards forest conservation than that of 1952 forest policy which gave much importance to industrial requirement, construction timbers for commercial as well as it treated a good revenue earning source besides hunting of wild animals. After 1988, many governmental and non-governmental agencies have been established to conserve the forest and the wild animals including marine environment. In this circumstance, the best performing organizations should be identified and their support in conservation of forests need to be introduced in liaison with the Forest Department. However, a Draft National Forest Policy 2016 was drafted and not yet implemented throughout India is aiming to bring the nation with empowered communities and healthy nation. Let us hope for the best both in conservation and wildlife management by ensuring participation of tribes.

 

Recommendations

While reviewing the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations and after availing the discussion with the experts, it is learnt that the Corridors of wild animals got occupied and the animals’ movement got totally affected. In this circumstances, the Corridors occupied by either the Private or by the Government institutions, it should be rescued or procured from the public for easing the animal movement.

 

While making use of the forests for developmental initiatives like laying of roads, erection of bridges, establishment of reservoirs or dams, generation of electricity and its structures and providing drinking water arrangements through some special projects, alternate arrangements for animal movement should be made. The same may be a tunnel type structure, or an elevated over bridge to cross the animal from one Corridor to another Corridors.

 

It is learnt that the wild life census across different states are being carried out by the Department of Forests with the support of staff members and the students of different institutions. The data related to animal population, status of survival as Threat; Endangered; etc may be given in the form of a Statistical hand book. Throughout India such data are missing. If sound data are available, it acts as a base for planning the research and development and conservation programs in a big way.

 

Acknowledgments

First author (CS) has availed the discussion with the second author (VG) and the article was completely drafted by CS in respect of Conservation in different dynasties. Whereas the third author has incorporated the Role of Government and Non-Governmental Organizations in conservation related issues. The recommendations given are from the ideas of second and third authors. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

 

References

Desai V., 1991, Forest Management in India: Issues and Problems, Himalaya Pub., pp: 3

 

Government of India, 2016, “State Wise and Landscape Wise Estimation of Tigers”, (Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change: New Delhi), Web Site Page

 

Government of India, 2016, Draft National Forest Policy 2016-Empowered Communities, Healthy Ecosystems, Happy Nation, Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, pp: 1-40

 

Gadgil, and Guha, 2000, The use and abuse of Nature, OUP, pp: 118-122

 

Lal J.B., 1989, India’s Forests: Myth & Reality, Natraj Pub., pp: 25

 

Rangarajan Mahesh, 2001, India’s wildlife History, Permanent Black, pp: 12

 

The Hindu, 2016, “Environment Ministry withdraws Draft Forest Policy”, (The Hindu: New Delhi)

 

Thakur K., 1997, Environmental Protection Laws and Policy In India, Deep & Deep, pp: 107

 

 

 

International Journal of Horticulture
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