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India’s rich wildlife heritage is facing several threats. Just how serious is the problem?

India is renowned as the land of the tiger and the elephant; many of our gods are depicted riding peacocks or tigers. But sadly, the equation that existed between people and wildlife centuries ago has vanished, and our Protected areas, which comprise a mere 4% of India’s landscape, are now mere islands amidst a sea of people, with tremendous demands and pressures being put on them.

The most serious problem that I see today is the neglect and collapse of basic wildlife protection capacity during the last decade.  This “mission-drift” has resulted from several causes: lack of political will, deterioration in the quality of forest administration, and the influence of international conservation paradigms that blindly promote “sustainable use” as a solution, while failing to recognize the overexploited status of the forest resources targeted for such use.