Sanctuaries - how safe?

Published: Tuesday 30 April 1996

INDIA'S record of protecting its wildlife species is none too bright, says a report prepared by a committee appointed by the Delhi High Court and headed by inspector genera I of forests, M F Ahmed. Recent surveys of premier Project Tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries have revealed "an alarming and depressing scenario of general apathy and lack of motivation, interest and competence among the staff at different levels ......

The country has 441 wildlife sanctuaries and 80 national parks. But, there are 1,336 threatened plant species, and on the threatened animals list there are 53 mammals, 69 birds (the fourth highest threat rate in the world), 23 reptiles (the second highest rate), three amphibians and 22 invertebrates.

Despite stringent laws, strong vested interests manage - to put a dampener on the wildlife protection programme. Says Ashish Kothari of the Indian Institute of Public Administration, cwhile keeping conservation in view, rights and livelihood of the local people must also be kept in mind".

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