World Environment Day: Conservation Stories From India You Must Not Miss

Each destination highlights the incredible biodiversity and offers unique travel experiences that connect visitors to the country's ongoing environmental efforts
Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National ParkSandeepBisht/Shutterstock

As we commemorate the World Environment Day, there's no better time to celebrate some of India's most remarkable conservation successes. From majestic tigers to wetlands, India's conservation efforts have preserved biodiversity and created unique travel experiences. Join us on a journey through five of India's most inspiring conservation sites, each reflecting the country's dedication to preserving its natural heritage.

Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kaziranga National Park is renowned for its conservation success, particularly of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Established as a reserve forest in 1905, it evolved into a game sanctuary in 1916, a wildlife sanctuary in 1950, and finally, a national park in 1974. Its conservation journey began in the early 20th century with a mere dozen rhinos but now hosts over 2,400, about two-thirds of the world's population.

Despite challenges like floods from the Brahmaputra River, human-wildlife conflict, and climate change, Kaziranga's effective strategies have led to significant increases in wildlife populations. Key conservation efforts include stringent anti-poaching measures and strict penalties. Habitat management practices like controlled burning of grasslands and water management have been crucial. Technological integration with GPS and drone surveillance has enhanced monitoring and protection.

Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal

Sundarbans National Park
Sundarbans National ParkSandeepBisht/Shutterstock

Nestled in the heart of the world's largest delta, Sundarbans National Park is your ideal place to see the world's most extensive mangrove forest and the royal Bengal tiger. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this unique ecosystem spans the border of West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh, offering an inviting combination of natural beauty and remarkable conservation success. Its conservation model began in 1973 when it was declared a tiger reserve under India's Project Tiger initiative to protect the critically endangered Bengal tiger. In 1984, it was elevated to the national park status, further solidifying its importance in the global conservation landscape.

The heart of Sundarbans' conservation lies in its mangrove forests, which serve as breeding grounds for many species. Sustainable fishing practices and community-driven eco-development projects help reduce human dependence on forest resources, encouraging a harmonious coexistence.

Exploring Sundarbans, you will discover the innovative use of technology in conservation. Camera traps and GPS tracking systems monitor the elusive tigers and their habitats, offering fascinating insights into their lives. Community awareness programs educate locals on the importance of conservation.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala

Established in 1950, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is a testament to India's commitment to conservation and biodiversity. Its conservation story began when it was declared a protected area in 1950 to safeguard its rich wildlife. In 1978, it was designated as a tiger reserve under Project Tiger, enhancing its role in protecting the critically endangered Bengal tiger. The sanctuary is centred around the picturesque Periyar Lake, formed by the construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895.

Periyar's robust conservation strategies are multifaceted. Anti-poaching patrols involving armed forest guards and local tribal members ensure the safety of its diverse fauna. Habitat management includes maintaining the health of the evergreen and deciduous forests, which are vital for species like the Asian elephant, sambar deer, and about 260 bird species.

A standout feature of Periyar's conservation success is its community-based ecotourism model. Local tribes are actively involved in eco-friendly tourism activities, promoting a sense of ownership and reducing human-wildlife conflicts. Programs like bamboo rafting, guided treks, and nature walks offer visitors an immersive experience while supporting conservation efforts.

Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan

Greater flamingo flock  at Keoladeo National Park
Greater flamingo flock at Keoladeo National ParkShutterstock

Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Keoladeo National Park, is celebrated for its remarkable avian diversity and successful conservation efforts. Established in 1982, the park's protection history dates back to 1850s, when it served as a royal hunting reserve for the Maharajas of Bharatpur.

Originally known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Keoladeo was created by diverting water from a nearby canal to flood the natural depression, transforming it into a thriving wetland. This ingenious engineering, spearheaded by Maharaja Suraj Mal, attracted many bird species, turning it into one of the world's most significant bird breeding and feeding grounds.

Local communities play a crucial role in Keoladeo's conservation success. Eco-tourism initiatives provide sustainable livelihoods, reducing dependence on the park's resources.

Gir National Park, Gujarat

As the last stronghold of the Asiatic lion, Gir National Park is known for its efforts to preserve this endangered species. The park's history as a sanctuary began when the Nawab of Junagadh, alarmed by the dwindling lion population due to hunting and habitat loss, initiated protection measures in the early 20th century. In 1965, the park was declared a wildlife sanctuary; later, in 1975, it was granted national park status.

As for conservation strategies, establishing wildlife corridors has facilitated the safe movement of lions and other wildlife. The involvement of local communities has been crucial in Gir's conservation success. Programs that provide alternative livelihoods, such as eco-tourism and handicrafts, reduce dependence on forest resources and promote conservation awareness. The Maldhari tribes reside within the park and actively participate in conservation efforts.

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