India faces an ecological crisis of massive proportions. The overexploitation of the country’s forests and wetlands is eating away at vital ecological processes. Rapid and unplanned economic development threatens to fragment and devour the wildlife habitats that remain. Plant and animal species are joining the ranks of the critically endangered at faster rates than ever before. Using the Sariska Tiger Reserve as one of its major anchors, this book analyses the historical, socio-political, and biological contexts of nature conservation in the country in an effort to identify the malaise underlying India’s dominant conservation paradigm, which is primarily one of top-down control and exclusion. It then surveys alternative approaches to conservation—emerging in India and elsewhere—which attempt to reconcile social equity with biodiversity goals.
The author argues that a broad-based participatory approach to conservation, accommodating both use-based and preservationist paradigms, is necessary if we are to see India’s extraordinary wildlife survive into the next century. Environmental justice and improved governance have to be as much a part of this agenda as sound ecological science and practice.