The importance of protected areas

Print edition : February 05, 2016

While the grey slender loris, a primate species, is well protected in the Anshi-Dandeli Tiger Reserve (Karnataka), it is seriously threatened owing to loss of forest habitat. Photo: Anant Zanjale

With the adjoining Bandipur (Karnataka) and Wayanad (Kerala) protected areas, the biologically diverse Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (Tamil Nadu) forms a large forested landscape. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The forest rest house at Supkhar; this Halon river valley part of the Kanha Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh) may support the reintroduction of the wild buffalo in the near future. Photo: Sudhir Misra

The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve receives extremely good rainfall and supports a typical biodiversity of significant forest ecosystems, especially the shola-montane grassland complex. Photo: Anant Zanjale

At the Kanha Tiger Reserve. Bamboo has low resistance to biodegrading organisms and has disappeared from many areas of central India, but the protected areas in this part of the country are excellent repositories of this plant species. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The Pench Tiiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh) manages a good tiger population in tropical deciduous teak and mixed forests. Photo: Amit Pare

The Kaziranga National Park (Assam), a World Heritage Site and a biodiversity hot spot in the sub-Himalayan belt, conserves around two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceros. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The Anamalai Tiger Reserve (Tamil Nadu) is an important watershed area that supplies water for agriculture and power supply and supports, besides the endangered Nilgiri tahr (seen here), several major reservoirs. Photo: Anant Zanjale

Wild elephants at the Corbett National Park (Uttarakhand). Elephant conservation requires large areas so that they have space to forage and move around. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The Wild Ass Sanctuary (Gujarat), a remarkable landscape renowned for its special biodiversity, is part of a transitional area between marine and terrestrial systems. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The Corbett National Park not only conserves a variety of faunal species but also two major rivers and their tributaries as important hydrological resources. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The Nameri Tiger Reserve (Assam) also conserves the ibisbill, an endangered and unique wader of the flat, stony rivers of the high-altitude Himalayan valleys. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The Malabar grey hornbill, an endangered fruit-eating bird, in the Anshi-Dandeli Tiger Reserve, which preserves a landscape of ecologically threatened forest types. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The Kanha National Park conserves large mosaics of forest, grassland and water, with typical floral and faunal species of the central Indian highlands. Photo: Anant Zanjale

Among the world’s most productive ecosystems, the mangrove forests of the Sunderbans are adapted to survive in the harsh interface between sea and land, protecting the shore. Photo: Anant Zanjale

The extremely beautiful sub-Himalayan Manas Tiger Reserve (Assam) is a biodiversity hot spot that has extensive alluvial grasslands and tropical evergreen forests, with a wide variety of floral and faunal species. Photo: Anant Zanjale

In the whole debate in India on climate change, the role of protected areas, the only natural tool to mitigate its effects and help us adapt to it, has not been discussed enough. Text by RAKESH SHUKLA and photographs by ANANT ZANJALE
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