Written by Madhuboni Banerjee
Acoording to Senior Forest Officer Gobind Sagar Bhardwaj, the growing human population is the biggest challenge to protection of wildlife, as population acts as an interface between wildlife and humans. “We must take conscious efforts towards saving environment and be aware of the reasons that can affect wildlife,” said Bhardwaj, chief conservator of forests, wildlife, Alwar.
Bhardwaj, who supervises the management of wildlife resources at Sariska Tiger Reserve, was in Pune as the chief guest at an event, jointly organised by the Pune Forest Department’s wildlife division, Nature Walk Charitable Trust and Biospheres, to celebrate Wildlife Week. The week-long event started on October 1.
He said, “Unfortunately, all is not well with wildlife. Due to growing human population, there is incredible habitat destruction. The awareness should begin from the grassroot level. We, as citizens, can have little but significant contribution to the fight against global warming and climate change.”
“A responsible way of lifestyle is having a motto of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Saving water, electricity, food, fuel is the need of the hour. There is a need to diminish the conflict between humans and animals. We should improve the managerial and surgical inputs. For example, instead of planting 1 lac tress, we should plant 1 crore trees a year,” added Bhardwaj, who had also worked as the chief conservator of forests, wildlife, Desert National Park.
He had also served different forest divisions of Rajasthan, in various capacities, which included management of one of the best tiger reserves in the country — Ranthambhore National Park. He has also served in the Wildlife Institute of India as a senior scientist, supervising some research projects on endangered birds such as Lesser Florican and Bengal Florican and also status survey of Avian fauna of trans-Himalayan region from 2008 to 2012.
Bhardwaj has also authored a book on tigers — Tracking Tigers in Ranthambhore. Highlighting the steps that have been taken to increase the tiger population and where the country was lagging behind, he said, “Since the inception of the ‘Tiger Project’ in 1970s, no mindful measures have been taken to preserve tiger population. In 2004, a handful of tigers remained and, in Sariska and Panna tiger reserves, the population had reached near the brink of extinction. Later, in 2004, many NGOs, forest department, locals came forward to reintroduce tigers in these reserves.”
“Today, India has the highest population of tigers. If this continues to grow, the whole ecosystem can be saved. However, continued human encroachment in these sanctuaries is a major challenge. In Ranthambore, for example, after several tests were run on tigers, it was found that their stress levels were really high. This caused a pattern change in their breeding too,” he added.
Meanwhile, to celebrate Wildlife Week, Rajiv Gandhi Zoo has also organised various programmes, including best out of waste exhibition, street plays and workshops on biodiversity, mammals of the Western Ghats and butterflies.
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