In India, bio-diverse conservation sites that are meant for preserving different species of plants and animals have been categorised into – Wildlife Sanctuaries; National Parks and Biosphere Reserves.
Wildlife Sanctuaries(WNS) are specifically meant for protecting or conserving a species of bird or wild animal. Preservation of the species in question can be limited to a period in the year or through the year. These natural habitats in India can be government-owned or belong to private agencies. They are relatively smaller in size.
National Parks(NP) are protected areas mostly owned by the government and meant for protecting or preserving and developing flora and fauna pertaining to one or more species. The size of national parks in India is more than that of wildlife sanctuaries.
Biosphere Reserves are much larger areas of land that are meant for conserving not one or two species but an entire ecosystem. Some examples are Gulf of Mannar, Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Nanda Devi Biosphere and more.
Comparison : Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) & National Park (NP)
|Base for comparison||Wildlife Sanctuary||National Park|
|Definition by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)||Category IV type of protected area.||Category II type of protected area|
|Bottom Line||Is meant for preserving species of birds and animals.||Is meant for protecting plant and animal species, as well as for preserving the landscape and historical sites at the area.|
|Covered under law||Yes. Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.||Yes. Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.|
|Official permission required or not to access the place||Not required.||Required.|
|Boundary line||Flexible boundary||Fixed by the government.|
|Biotic interference (The degree to which residents can inhibit an introduced biological control agent’s ability to be effective and establish)||Not allowed except for the buffer area||Allowed with limitations|
|Limitation on human activity||Though settlement is not permitted, activities like grazing, collecting firewood etc. are allowed. Also, other destructive activities like poaching and captivating animals are not permitted.||No kind of human activity like hunting, grazing, cultivating, establishing living quarters, trespassing or destroying the biodiversity are allowed.|
|Gene pool conservation done or not||Not yet||Not yet|
|Visitor Policy||Tourists are permitted to visit Wildlife Sanctuary. Restrictions are far less.||Are open to visitors. In fact, many National Parks have outdoor adventure and camping activities that try to create a symbiosis between man and the biosphere. Restrictions are much more than sanctuaries.|
|Numbers at present||543 wildlife sanctuaries covering a total area of 118918 sq. km.||104 national parks covering an area of 40501 sq. km.|
|Individual’s Right overland||If an individual’s landfalls in a sanctuary, he has the rights over the land.||If an individual’s landfalls in a National Park, he has no right over his land.|
One notable thing about the Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park is that while the former can be promoted at any point in time to the stature of a national park, the latter can never be demoted to be a sanctuary. A notable example is the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, now famously known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Initially a well-known hunting ground for rajas and maharajas of Bharatpur, the place was first designated as a protected sanctuary in 1971 and then as a bird sanctuary in 1976. Home to about 230 species of birds, it also hosts several migratory birds during the winter season. In 1982 the WLS was established as a national park and in 1985 it was also declared as a World Heritage site. Today the National Park is home to more than 370 bird species and hence is of immense importance ornithologically. [Also Know – Types of Wildlife Safari’s in India]
In India, it is not unusual to find a Wildlife sanctuary as a part of a National Park or located in its buffer zone. Two great examples in this context are: –
Kanha National Park (KNP) and the Phen WLS
- Kanha National Park is one of the most prominent tiger reserves – India has about 50 tiger reserves under Project Tiger.
- The park came into existence on 1st June 1955.
- The Kanha Tiger Reserve was formed in 1973 that covers KNP with an area of 940 sq. km, its buffer zone that covers an area of 1067 sq. km and the adjoining Phen Sanctuary that covers another 110 sq. km.
- It is the largest National Park in Madhya Pradesh and is one of the favourite tourist’s spots for wildlife enthusiasts. It houses about 1000 different species of flowering plants. Fauna that can be seen here include tigers, leopards, jackals, foxes, swamp deer, sambhar deer, four-horned antelope, blackbucks, sloth bear, etc. It is also home to about 300 species of birds.
- The Phen Wildlife Sanctuary lies towards the Mukki entrance of the Kanha Tiger reserve; it is located towards the south of the reserve and was set up in 1983.
[Also Explore – Experiential Homestay Near Kanha Tiger Reserve]
Sonanadi Sanctuary Is Part of Jim Corbett National Park
- The Jim Corbett NP is one of the earliest National Parks in the country, set up in 1963 as Hailey National Park.
- The purpose was to preserve the Bengal Tiger species.
- The Park was the first to be covered by Project Tiger that was launched in 1973.
- It is sprawled in an area of 520.8 sq. km and is spread out over an altitude range of 1300 -14000 ft.
- 73% of the Park is forested area and 10% is grasslands.
- Jim Corbett is home to about 488 flora species, 50 types of mammals, 580 bird species and 33 reptile species.
- The Sonanadi Sanctuary is sprawled over an area of 301.18 sq. km. The name means river of gold as gold-digging was extensively carried out in the area before it was made into a sanctuary.
- It became part of the Corbett Park in 1991 and served under Project Tiger as well as Project Elephant.
- It is the only zone in the Corbett National Park where tourists are permitted to walk on foot. Tigers, leopards, and elephants are to be seen in this part of the wildlife sanctuary.
Example of Few Independent Wildlife Sanctuary
- The Kolleru Bird Sanctuary is in Andhra Pradesh and covers an area of 673 sq. kilometres. Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the Wildlife sanctuary was established in 1999. This WLS is the home to a weed species called Phragmites Karka and different types of species of birds.
- The Bor Tiger Reserve is a wildlife sanctuary located in Maharashtra in the Wardha district. The reserve also houses several other animal species covering an area of 138.12 sq. km. This WLS was declared as a Tiger Reserve in 2014. Other than the Bengal Tiger, it is also home to Indian bison, blue bull, chital and sambhar deer, peacocks, monkeys and other species of fauna.
What is a Tiger Reserve?
India has about 70% of the world’s tiger population living in the country. There are about 50 Tiger Reserves in the country today that are looked after by the Project Tiger. This is a tiger conservation project started in the year 1973 with the aim of providing natural habitat so that the dwindling population of Bengal Tigers could be increased. Under the project, the number of tigers more than doubled from 1411 in 2006 to 3890 by 2016. While conservation is the main aim, the objective is to prevent the species from becoming extinct and preserve them for posterity. Many National Parks and few Wildlife sanctuaries have been declared Tiger Reserves ever since.
Examples of National Parks that are Tiger Reserves – Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Sunderban Tiger Reserve amongst others. Wildlife sanctuaries that are designated Tiger Reserve are – Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala and the Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra.