SUBJECT :Wildlife conservation in the state has come a long way — from the days when tigers were hunted and their hides decorated as trophies in colonial drawing rooms to the present day when governments are taking every effort to boost the population of the endangered species. 

Tamil Nadu, February 5, 2018: Wildlife conservation in the state has come a long way — from the days when tigers were hunted and their hides decorated as trophies in colonial drawing rooms to the present day when governments are taking every effort to boost the population of the endangered species. Many such accounts of progress in wildlife conservation in the country since 4th century BC find mention in 'Conservation Conundrum Journey of India's Wildlife through Ages', a book by T Sekar, a former principal chief conservator of forests.

Even as the wildlife population in the country declined in the first two decades after Independence due to rampant hunting, the introduction of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 turned things around. Sekar says technology has played a pivotal role in improving conservation. "There is a wide variety of concepts for using science and technology and gadgetry to preserve endangered species. Satellite-based remote sensing, GPS, camera trapping, smart collaring and surveillance by drones are used in wildlife management now. Real-time monitoring of forest fires provides better opportunity for timely detection and early containment of forest fires," the book reads.

Divided into 18 chapters the book talks about the evolution of man from hunter gatherers to benign rulers, India's biodiversity and wildlife and hunting in colonial India and royal cuisine. Invasive exotic species challenging indigenous fauna, wildlife trade, the pros and cons of wildlife tourism and distress calls from wildlife are a few more topics that the book covers.

Stressing the importance of elephant corridors, Sekar points out how elephant taming and conservation dates back to the time of Mauryan king Chandragupta (4th century BC) who used to maintain hathivanas (elephant forests). "The use of elephants in felling trees to clear forests and carry logs was in practice in TN in 1850 as recorded by the first conservator of Madras presidency Cleghorn in his notes," he says.

He, however, laments that despite efforts by the government, eco-tourism has not be quite helpful in conservation plans. Even though the chief objectives of tiger tourism are to minimise environmental impacts, generate funds for conservation, benefit local communities and educate of visitors, a study conducted on four tiger reserves in the country revealed that not all the criteria have been met by the reserves. "Tourism imposes significant detrimental impacts, little of the generated revenue is captured, local communities get mostly menial jobs and visitor education is virtually non-existent with tourism mainly geared towards thrill-seeking," he says.

Eco-tourism has failed in most places, except in a few forest areas like Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, where poachers were trained to become forest protectors and marginalised people were involved in community based ecotourism, the study says.


Source: Times of India