Author : Nitin Soni
India is blessed with rich variety of flora and fauna which supplements the rich diversity of wildlife. Indian wildlife heritage comprises of more than 80 national parks and about 440 wildlife sanctuaries offering immense opportunities for wildlife tourism. Some of these national parks have been identified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO which includes Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Rajasthan, Kaziranga and Manas National Parks in Assam, Sunderbans National Park in West Bengal, and Nanda Devi National Park in Uttarakhand.
Wildlife of India was severely effected during the colonial period. Many tigers, leopards, lions, bears and cheetah were killed. Hunting was a fun game during that period which effected the ecosystem of India very much. The result of fun hunting was only visible after the independence which reduced the population of many animals to such an extent that they were on the verge of being extinct. Cheetah which was found in Indian subcontinent became extinct about 50 years ago. It was only after independence, India started the wildlife conservation programs. These programs have helped a lot in saving the wildlife of India to good extent. Today, India is home to about 60% of the tigers worldwide, 80% of world's one-horned rhinoceros population and only home of Asiatic Lions.
Biosphere reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are the parts of India's wildlife conservation program. Many of these parks and sanctuaries played a vital role in saving the species which were on the verge of being extinct. Project tiger was one such program which was started to protect tigers in wild as the population of tigers was decreasing at very high speed. Many sanctuaries and parks were declared tiger reserves and measures were taken to stop poaching and hunting of tigers. Project tiger is successfully running and we can be assured that the big cat will not be extinct in the near future. Even the rhinos population have increased in Kaziranga and Manas National Parks. Asiatic Lions are about 300 in number in Gir national park alone.
Increase in the population of the wild animals and successful wildlife conservation program has helped India in attracting wildlife and nature lovers. Today, India offers immense opportunities for wildlife tourism. There are many national parks, wildlife and bird sanctuaries spread all across India which are frequently visited by wildlife enthusiast. Although all the national parks have a good population of variety of species but some of the parks are famous for particular species such as Kaziranga for rhinos, Corbett and Ranthambore for tigers, Gir for asiatic lions, Periyar for elephants and Bharathpur and Kumarakom are popular bird sanctuaries of India.
over 350 species of mammals and 1200 species of birds, India has something distinct to offer. These enchanting species have been preserved through 80 National Parks and 441 Wildlife Sanctuaries. A few majors of the India Wildlife sanctuaries are:
Bandhavgarh (vindhya hills in Madhya Pradesh)
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Rajasthan)
Jim Corbett (Uttaranchal)
Gir (Junagarh, Gujarat)
Kanha (Madhya Pradesh)
Kaziranga (Arunachal Pradesh)
Panna (Madhya Pradesh)
Periyar (Periyar, Kerala)
Sunderban (West Bengal)
Most of these preserved areas work to save the rarest and endangered species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles etc. Indian Government has taken adequate steps and measures for the conservation and regeneration of animals and birds like tiger, lion, panther, musk deer, Nilgiri tahr, great Indian bustard etc. Apart from that, these preserved areas are the best places to spot the rich Indian flora. These tours are ideal for Wildlife Photography, Eco-Tourism, Jungle Safaris and other adventurous activities. India's topography and varying climatic conditions make it the second largest country to have such diversified wildlife tourism.