The unique biogeography of the Indian sub-continent has given rise to a diverse array of ecosystems in India, ranging from the alpine forests in the Himalayas in the north, to the arid deserts in the west; and from the vast river basins formed by its numerous rivers to the extensive coastline, and the unique chain of islands in the west and east coasts. India also hosts four biodiversity hotspots, bestowing it with a strikingly rich biodiversity, and making it one of the 17 megadiverse nations of the world. At the same time, the country is home to over 1.3 billion people, which is expected to grow by 16% by 2030.
India’s rich cultural heritage inherently inculcates an ethos of nature conservation and a general sense of tolerance towards animals, which has allowed for the persistence of most of its biodiversity. However, the natural habitats and wildlife populations are increasingly faced with multiple threats arising from the rapid industrial development and urbanization, a growing population, and the drivers of climate change. Today, the three key challenges faced by wildlife in India include habitat fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict, and Illegal wildlife trade. The network of Protected Areas constitutes around 5% of India’s land area, which is insufficient to meet the conservation goals for threatened species including elephants, tigers and dholes. Likewise, several species including leopards and sloth bears persist at high densities in human-use landscapes. The marine ecosystems of India and the associated biodiversity are similarly impacted by habitat degradation, over-exploitation, unsustainable levels of trade and global warming. Addressing these challenges, requires persistent collaborative efforts between all stakeholders, and a holistic approach cross-cutting the various interfaces of wildlife conservation, socio-economic well-being and sustainable development.
WS-India has been consistently working in various landscapes of India to ensure the persistence of the unique and threatened wildlife species, and to conserve the natural habitats in the country.