Wildlife Management in India
Once an area is declared a National Park, the question of wildlife management comes up. It is implied by the legal provisions for constituting the National Park that it has to be free from exploitation and no grazing has to be permitted there.
The first principle for the management of wildlife in National Park is that it should be of adequate size, its boundaries should be thoughtfully chosen and buffer zones be provided against shooting, grazing and cultivation. Full protection to wildlife can be provided only when these parks are free from exploitation and extraction because it is under the cover of these activities that illegal activities like poaching and killing flourish.
The degraded habitat in the National Park should be restored to its natural state by executing a well conceived management plan.
The Park should be made accessible to public for viewing from close quarters. This is necessary to foster interest of the public in wildlife and its preservation. To promote such viewing and undisturbed enjoyment thereby, facilities of rest houses equipped with modern amenities, roads and paths for reaching the area, and means of viewing the animals from close quarter-vehicle, elephants, lookout towers, hides, etc. should be provided.
It is important that game animals are confined within the National Parks for the sake of their own safety and protection. For this fencing should be provided in the parks ensuring at the same time that it is not done across migration routes or normal feeding routes.
It is to be ensured that natural and original flora of the area are protected and preserved, so that ecological conditions unsuitable to the fauna of the area are not created. A National Park should have adequate wildlife stock. The Park should, therefore, have clean water, shade, natural food provision of salt licks etc. Constant observation, care, scientific investigation and experiments can help in providing the basis of correct wildlife management. It is only when all these needs – freedom to move, easy access to food and water, suitable habitat for shelter – are met that animals do not migrate to other areas.
For durable protection to the National Park, its surroundings should be identified as Special Area for Eco-Development (SEAD) where conservation-oriented development programs should be implemented. This calls for the involvement of local people. The cooperation of the people in the neighborhood of the Park will guarantee the successful management of the Park.
The National Park would require professional cadre of forest personnel fully trained in all aspects of forest and wildlife management who train and provide leadership to the lower ranks and workers concerned with wildlife. The officers and staff should be well paid and provided incentives and modern amenities. Without a happy and contended protective staff the parks will only become a haven for poachers. In brief, for the scientific management of the National Park, there should be a comprehensive plan for meeting manpower needs, recruitment policy, training programme and career development of wildlife officers at various levels.
Since grazing in the National Parks is forbidden, there is no possibility of diseases common to wild and domestic animals spreading from the latter to the former. Preventive inoculation of the cattle in the neighborhood of the Park against epidemics of foot and mouth diseases and rinderpest is, however, essential
Training courses should be organized for in-service foresters to present management approaches which cater to wildlife needs.
Adequate propaganda and publicity should be launched to educate the public about the role and importance of wildlife and its habitat to get their support. It is all the more important to direct such publicity towards the youth. This can be done by including wildlife material in the text books, exhibiting posters, wall charts, short films, calendars, organizing seminars, lectures etc.
Manipulation of animal population in a park may be necessary. For instance, if the large population of a particular species poses a problem it may be imperative to reduce its number. Introduction of predators in a park may be desirable to control ungulate population. Species which once existed in the park may be reintroduced to increase the fauna of the area.
Over visitation to park is undesirable as it tends to spoil the park features. This should be checked by careful management.
The poaching of wildlife, illicit removal of trees and other forest products from the National Parks should be closely monitored and action plans should be designed to protect the wildlife and its habitat from these damaging onslaughts. It may be necessary to constitute anti-poaching squads which should be equipped with fast moving vehicles, fire arms, wireless sets, etc.