Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Eco-sensitive Zones Declared in Four Gujarati Wildlife Sanctuaries

Lions in Gir Forest

It has been recently announced that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has declared eco-sensitive zones around four wildlife sanctuaries in the state of Gujarat. These include Gir Forest National Park in Junagadh district, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary in Kutch district, Purna Wildlife Sanctuary in the Dangs, and Vansda National Park in Navsari district. With a rich abundance of wildlife in all four of these sanctuaries, activities such as industrialization, mining, and tourism will be restricted. The eco-sensitive zone of Gir Forest covers an area of 9,318 hectares, and includes 27 villages in Bhesan and Junagadh talukas in a five-kilometer radius. The development there is to be managed through a zonal detailed plan, which is expected to be ready in two years. The zone around Purna Wildlife Sanctuary is 25,036 hectares, with 61 villages included in a two-kilometer radius while Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary's zone will cover 28 villages in three talukas and occupy 22,588 hectares out of which 62 percent would be forest-less land. The zone will expand to 2.5 kilometers throughout the sanctuary's boundary. The zone around Vansda National Park will fan out 5 kilometers of its total boundary, and encompass up to thirteen villages.
The chinkara (Indian gazelle); a flagship species in Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary

I'm very proud to see that these wildlife sanctuaries in Gujarat are having eco-sensitive zones declared, in order help keep the biodiversity safe and preserved. All four of these sanctuaries house some of the most unique wildlife in the state. Gir Forest is well-renowned as the last abode of the Asiatic lion in the world, but is also a haven for a rich variety of plant and animal life. Purna Wildlife Sanctuary, on the other hand, is well-known for possessing almost 3,330 species of trees, herbs, shrubs, mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary is very special for it hosts three distinct habitats: dry arid grasslands, coastal mangrove forests, and wetlands. It is also a home to some of India's rare and threatened species such as the caracal, chinkara (Indian gazelle), desert cat, great Indian and houbara bustards, leopard, lesser florican, wolf, and the spiny-tailed lizard. Vansda National Park was once famous for having tigers, but are believed to have become extinct. Nonetheless, it houses nine species of mammals in addition to reptiles and amphibians. The national park is also known for having birds unique to the Western Ghats, and various kinds of medicinal herbs and shrubs with ferns, lichens, and orchids. With such abundance of wildlife in these sanctuaries, it is easy to say that human encroachment is never far. Narayan Sarovar, in particular, is known to contain rich mineral deposits such as bauxite, bentonite, lignite, and limestone which makes it prone to mining. Other threats include poaching, habitat loss, industrialization, and even tourism. For this reason, the ministry has declared eco-sensitive zones around these four wildlife sanctuaries in an effort to help keep the biodiversities safe. Although the wildlife in some of Gujarat's wildlife sanctuaries seem to have a promising future ahead, things are different for animals elsewhere in India. One recent example was pointed out by Greenpeace, in which coal mining in some parts of India is threatening tigers. This is why I also believe it is crucial that the ministry should identify other wild places in order to ensure which can be declared as eco-sensitive zones to help save the wildlife.

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