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Exploring India’s Wildlife Beyond Tigers

by In-house Editor

Being a charismatic animal, tigers have been essential in influencing the way that modern Indians feel about protecting wildlife and biodiversity. Similar to population growth and the country’s GDP, the number of tigers is regularly tracked. Tiger populations have rebounded and other species that share their habitat have been conserved as a result, but this has also overshadowed the pressing need to save India’s other threatened species and biodiversity.

The substantial financing, protection, and research devoted to Project Tiger—which includes frequent evaluations of tiger and prey populations—makes it clear how important tiger conservation is. Unfortunately, many other endangered species that do not live in tiger territory have not received enough conservation attention as a result of this focus. For instance, with little funding and attention, the Great Indian Bustard, Jerdon’s courser, hill mynas, and Hoolock gibbons are in risk of going extinct.

Sadly, court action and popular support are frequently saved for high-profile instances involving charismatic animals like tigers. Other, lesser-known species and animals engaged in conflicts with humans and nature do not receive the same level of advocacy or legal protection. The significance of protecting a wide variety of species is overlooked by this narrow environmental action.

The importance of keystone species, such as specific birds that are essential to the regeneration of forests, is emphasized by ecological research. Neglecting these species can have a significant impact on the balance and health of the ecosystem. The biodiversity of India is seriously threatened by the extinction of rare, endemic species.

The COVID-19 pandemic and locust pest outbreaks in Africa are two recent incidents that have brought to light the interdependence of ecological health, human well-being, and biodiversity. Deforestation and biodiversity loss are major causes of environmental crises and zoonotic illnesses. However, India still sees forests being diverted for non-forest uses and virgin rainforests in the Nicobar Islands being planned for destruction.

Government budgets for environmental conservation, apart from tiger-related initiatives like the reintroduction of cheetahs, have dwindled. Research funds for forest and wildlife institutions have also faced cutbacks, hindering critical scientific efforts.

Educational institutions play a pivotal role in shaping public perceptions and activism. However, many focus solely on celebrating World Tiger Day, diverting attention away from the broader array of ecosystems and species that require urgent conservation efforts.

India’s rich biodiversity extends beyond tiger reserves, encompassing water bodies, rivers, deltas, grasslands, savannas, alpine pastures, and deserts. To safeguard this biodiversity and avoid collapse, it is imperative that environmental activism transcends the allure of the striped big cat.

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