Study Finds Large Animals in India are Facing Extinction Even in Protected Areas

satkosia gorge sanctuary reserve india photo

The Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary in India. Image credit: Raveesh Vyas

India has had a system of wildlife sanctuaries since 1928. Now, there are more than 500 in the country ranging from dedicated tiger and bird reserves to more general areas intend to protect habitats rich in biological diversity.

Unfortunately, according to a new study, even these efforts may not be enough to save some of the country's most critically endangered species from extinction.Considering the rate of economic growth in India, researchers concluded that existing protected areas will need to be expanded—and new ones established—if several large mammal species are to be preserved.

tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park India photo

A tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park, India. Image credit: Koshyk

Colin Poole, executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Asia Program, explained:

This study provides us with a roadmap for next steps for conservation in India develops into a world economic power, it is critical that conservation planning is part of that expansion.

Researchers from Wildlife Conservation Society, Duke University, and other groups evaluated the extinction probability of a sample of 25 large mammals. To construct a model, the team looked at the current population and distribution of each species and compared them to more than 30,000 historical records from natural history and museum databases covering the last 200 years.

The model showed that all 25 species would experience at least local extinction. Large-bodied mammals, habitat specialists, and very rare species showed the highest vulnerability, some with as much as a 96 percent chance of extinction.

Krithi K. Karanth, the study's lead author, commented:

India's rich diversity of wildlife is one of the country's great assets...our work highlights the perilous state of wildlife in India and conservation priorities must help conserve the nation's natural heritage.

The biggest threats to the species were increases in human population and expanded urban development.

Read more about wildlife in India:
Tiger Cubs Found Dead in Indian National Park
India Sets Up Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
Against The Odds: Tigers Resurface In Indian Rainforest
Conservation Failure: Panna Tiger Reserve in India No Longer Has Any Tigers

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