World Wildlife Day – 3rd March
March 3 is observed globally as World Wildlife Day (WWD). Each year’s event has a different theme and this year’s focus is closely tied to “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet“, a way to highlight the central role of forests, forest species, and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas.
World Wildlife Day is a day to celebrate the varied forms of flora and fauna found all over the world and to raise awareness of the benefits that protection and conservation of all forms of life provide to mankind. World Wildlife Day has now become the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife.
It was at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 20 December 2013, when it proclaimed 3rd March – the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973 – to be celebrated as UN World Wildlife Day and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.
This unique day provides an opportunity to understand varied forms of life on Earth. Wild plants and animals face numerous threats in the modern world, and the crossover of boundaries between humans and wildlife endangers the wellbeing of both.
This year the celebration will be focused on forest-based livelihoods, the ongoing efforts towards conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and the millions of livelihoods that directly depend on forests, particularly the indigenous peoples and local communities who are often the guardians of these ecosystems. For millennia, people and cultures have relied on nature’s rich diversity of wild plants and animals for food, clothing, medicine, and spiritual sustenance. Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology, and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage.
Despite its intrinsic value to sustainable development and human well-being, wildlife is under threat. Some of the world’s most charismatic species, as well as lesser-known but ecologically important plants and animals, are in immediate danger of extinction. A major cause is habitat loss. Another is the increase in illicit trafficking.
The environmental, economic, and social consequences of wildlife crime are profound. Of particular concern are the implications of illicit trafficking for peace and security in a number of countries where organized crime, insurgency, and terrorism are often closely linked.
While the threats to wildlife are great, we can reduce them through our collective efforts. On this inaugural World Wildlife Day, I urge all sectors of society to end illegal wildlife trafficking and commit to trading and using wild plants and animals sustainably and equitably.
7 Important Wildlife Protection Projects by the Indian Government
Project Tiger is a project to ensure a viable population of tigers in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural, and ecological values and to preserve for all time areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of the people.
To conserve the Tiger population in India, a special task force was set up in 1970, and Project Tiger was launched on 1 April 1973 to put an end to the continuously declining population of one of the most endangered species in India – Panthera Tigris. It is considered the most powerful and most ambitious conservation project in the world. As per the guidelines of Project Tiger, the purpose was to establish special Tiger Reserves throughout the country to provide natural habitat and enough space for the tigers and other wilds in the jungles.
The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), also known as the Indian lion, is a lion subspecies that exists as a single population in India’s Gujarat State. It is listed as Endangered by IUCN due to its small population size. The lion population has steadily increased in the Gir Forest National Park, more than doubling from a low of 180 individuals in 1974 to 411 individuals consisting of 97 adult males, 162 adult females, 75 sub-adults, and 77 cubs as of April 2010.
The Asiatic lion is one of five big cat species found in India, apart from the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, snow leopard, and clouded leopard. In 1972 the State Government of Gujarat prepared a scheme for the management of the Gir lion sanctuary with proper guidelines for conservation. The Central Government provides assistance for the protection and improvement of the habitat.
In Order to protect and conserve the elephant population of the country, a project has been formulated almost on the lines of Project Tiger. Project Elephant was launched in 1992 and is a centrally sponsored scheme. Project Elephant aims at restoring lost and degraded habitats of elephants, creating migration corridors, eliminating human interference, and establish a database on the migration and population dynamics of elephants.
Crocodile Conservation Project
The crocodiles are large aquatic tetrapod reptiles. They live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australia. They are cold-blooded creatures. The crocodiles occur mostly in freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, wetlands, and sometimes in brackish water. They feed mostly on vertebrates – fish, reptiles, and mammals.
Crocodiles, Alligators, and Gharials are the world’s largest and most riveting reptiles. With the assistance of the Government of India launched a crocodile breeding and management project, initially in Orissa in the year 1975. The scheme was subsequently extended to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andamans, Assam, Bihar, and Nagaland. As a result of the breeding projects and their management in twelve sanctuaries, the population of the three species has considerably increased.
Himalayan Musk Deer Project
The musk deer, which was once found throughout the Himalayas, has been persecuted by man for its musk used in the preparation of perfumes and medicine. This, coupled with habitat destruction, brought a sharp decline in its population. A conservation project was launched at the Kedarnath sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh (now in Uttarakhand) under the Threatened Deer Programme of the International Union for Conservation of Natural (IUCN) and Natural Resources with the cooperation of the Government of India.
The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros and Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Listed as a vulnerable species, the large mammal is primarily found in north-eastern India’s Assam and in protected areas in the Terai of Nepal, where populations are confined to the riverine grasslands in the foothills of the Himalayas.
In the 1970s, the Jammu and Kashmir Government in association with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) designed a project for the protection and conservation of the Kashmir Red Stag and its habitat. This project came to be known as Project Hangul. Hangul or Kashmir Red Stag is a subspecies of the Central Asian Red Deer, which is native to northern India. The project was started since Hanguls were enlisted in the critically endangered species list prepared by IUCN.
The top six Environmental Acts enacted in India
1. Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Wildlife Act, a landmark in history, was enacted for providing protection to wild animals and birds.
2. Forests (Conservation) Act, 1980: The Act covers all types of forests including reserve forests, protected forests, or any forested land irrespective of its ownership.
3. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974: The Act defined terms like pollution, sewage effluent, trade effluent, stream, and boards.
4. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977: This Act empowers the Central Water Board to collect cess on water consumed by persons carrying on certain scheduled industries and by local authorities responsible for supplying water.
5. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981: The Air Act was passed under Article 253 of the Constitution of India and in pursuance of decisions of the Stockholm Conference.
6. Environment Protection Act, 1986: The Environment Protection Act, November 19, 1986, was enacted as per the spirit of the Stockholm Conference held in June 1972 to take appropriate steps for the protection and improvement of the environs and to prevent hazards to human beings, living creatures, and property.