The Changing Conservation Ethos - Eastern Mirror
Wednesday, February 08, 2023

The Changing Conservation Ethos

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 14, 2020 12:02 am

Social awareness and proper planning have helped both Kaziranga and Manas National Parks regain their lost glory. The Manas Tiger Reserve has won the first-ever conservation excellence award. The number of tigers in the national park has increased three-fold in the last 10 years. On the other hand, all wetlands in Kaziranga have been restored. The restoration has helped to reduce man-animal conflict considerably, especially during the dry season. This is no mean achievement as encroachments in each other’s territory often threaten the ecological balance and in most cases animals are at the receiving end.

How did the transformation happen? In both cases, the authorities took the local populace into confidence. They discussed the problems that the animals and the parks were facing and in those discussions, it was outlined that apart from poaching, lack of food and water ail these national parks. In the case of Manas, during the peak of Bodoland Movement, animals were killed mercilessly and they virtually vanished from the habitat. For example, there was not a single rhino in the park in 2000-2001. However, Manas now has 44 rhinos, apart from 30 tigers. The number of tigers was just 10 around ten-years ago. In Kaziranga, it was noticed that despite Assam having enough water resources, construction of dams and barrages on River Brahmaputra kept the animals thirsty as the wetlands inside the park dried up during the dry season. As a result, during the winter season animals going to the Jakhalabandha area, a human habitat, became a common phenomenon. Accordingly, the park authorities decided to plug the exit points of over 190 wetlands in Kaziranga. The task is not yet complete, but, the initial response is encouraging. Numbers of man-animal conflicts have gone down and Kaziranga National Park has gained 3053 hectares.

It is important to note that all efforts by the authorities could not achieve such spectacular success without the help of the local populace. The locals were and continue to be at the forefront of the war against poaching. Not only have they helped forest guards prevent poaching, they have also participated in many awareness campaigns to refrain the people from causing any harm to the animals. The cooperation resulted in the three-fold increase of the big cat population. The rise shows that poachers are finding it increasingly difficult to kill the animals. In Kaziranga too, the local populace joined hands in restoration of wetlands in the national park. Now, reprieved of the severe water crisis, the animals in Kaziranga have stopped entering human settlements.

The success of Kaziranga and Manas have not only inspired other national parks and sanctuaries to adopt the same model, but have also attracted the attention of many foreign countries. Several parks have expressed the desire to imitate this model of community engagement in conservation efforts. It is crucial that we remember that animals play an important role in maintaining the fragile ecological balance of our world and that we need to be at the heart of conservation efforts.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 14, 2020 12:02:26 am