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India is unique in the richness and the variety of its wildlife. There are about 350 species of mammals , 1200 species of birds in nearly 2100 subspecies and more than 20000 species of insects. No exact count is available about the number of plants and trees that are endemic to India . India also has a long history and tradition of conservation.

The conservation ethic was imbibed in the sylvan surroundings of the ashrams of our sages, which were the seats of learning in the country's ancient past. Inspite of the love and regard for wildlife being a part of our culture , today we are faced with a sad paradox of wildlife in India fast disappearing . Many unique animals such as the Indian hunting Cheetah have become extinct and lost for ever. Many animals such as the Asiatic lion , the Royal Bengal Tiger , the Swamp deer , the great Indian Bustard , Jerdon's Cursor are on the endangered species list. A majority of these extinctions and depletion in numbers can be directly attributed to human activities such as degradation and destruction of natural habitats , deforestation , agricultural expansion , unrestricted grazing and spreading urbanization.

Why is wildlife conservation so important ?


T
o an average citizen in India it may be difficult to understand why wildlife conservation should be so important. If India's sages in their wisdom laid great emphasis on conservation ethics in their ashrams in the forest , what relevance does it have in the present context ? when the need is for husbanding all the country's resources for rapid economic development to mitigate the dire poverty of the masses. Is wildlife conservation a luxury which a developing country like India can afford?

What many people fail to understand is that the concern for wildlife is concern for man himself ! All forms of life - human , animal and plant are so closely interlinked that disturbance in one gives rise to a imbalance in the others. If species of plants or animals become endangered , they signify a degradation in the environment which may be irreversible.

Nature maintains a vast diversity of animals and plants in a complex organization in which the various life processes of production, consumption and disposal of waste are maintained in well-balanced cycles. Destruction of any particular link in the food-chain or different strands in the ecological-web may lead to imbalances which may threaten the existence of man himself on this planet. Pollutants, like insecticides, or industrial effluents, are now known to travel through different organisms in the food chain, passing from one organism to the other, affecting man himself as the ultimate consumer.

Plants and animals constitute the world's living resources and the various food chains and cycles constitute life support system essential for their survival, including the survival of man. These living resources are also renewable. Any process of development by human societies with varying levels of their technology in harvesting natural resources, is an intervention in nature and its life support systems. To be sustainable, it requires that the renewability of the resources and life support systems is maintained in perpetuity. This, in essence, is the crux of the case for wildlife conservation. Lack of awareness of the benefits of conservation and all its relevance to everyday concerns, prevents policy makers, development planners and the general public from perceiving the urgent need to achieve conservation objectives.

The new definition of conservation is to contain human regeneration , this is particularly important for a country like India, which has the dubious distinction of hosting 1/6th of the worlds population crammed into about 1/20th of the worlds geographical area.



Ecological pyramid
In this scenario , the zoo is trying to play its part in spreading the message of wildlife conservation . Keeping in view the wide range of public, educated, uneducated, school children, students from professional courses etc., that visits the zoo everyday, display boards at appropriate places and at each enclosure are being kept to cater to the educational needs of one and all. This effort is an addition to the services provided by the visitors center. Where facilities for showing wildlife movies and other interesting exhibits have been provided. The Zoo staff are always ready to answer any queries that the visitors may have. The zoo also has a collection of useful books and journals which can be used for reference .
The zoo conducts training programs for interested groups in wildlife protection and conservation. Groups sponsored by non governmental organizations like WWF and groups of self motivated people from forest fringe villages called "Vanasamrakshana samithis", VSS are regular participants in such programs. These programs deal with topics like wildlife management and protection and also imparting knowledge to people of their villages as to what is to be done in case they come across wounded or stray wild animals and forest fires. Brochures containing such information is provided to these groups at the expense of the zoo.

The zoo also invites school and college students to visit the zoo , see the animals and interact with the zoo staff to learn about animals , trees and the need to conserve and preserve our natural resources.