Important Animal Conservation Projects in India

Project Elephant in India

The Project Elephant was launched by the Government of India in 1991-92. The project is being implemented in 17 states namely, (i) Andhra Pradesh, (ii) Arunachal Pradesh, (iii) Assam, Chhattisgarh, (v) Jharkhand, (vi) Karnataka, (vii)Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, (ix) Maharashtra, (x) Meghalaya, (xi) Nagaland, (xii) Odisha, (xiii)Tamil Nadu, (xiv)Tripura,(xv) Uttarakhand, (xvi) Uttar Pradesh, and (xvii) West Bengal.

The main objectives of the Project Elephant are: (i) To protect elephant, their habitats and corridors (ii) To address issues of man-animal conflict (iii) Welfare of domesticated elephants

At present, there are 26 Elephant Reserves (ERs), stretching over an area of about 60,000 sq km. The enumeration of elephants is done after every five years. It is encouraging to note that the population of elephants in India is increasing every year. The estimated population of elephants has gone up by more than two thousand as compared to the base year of 2002. India is monitoring the illegal killing of elephants also.

Gharial Project

Gharial, a unique species of crocodile, characterized by its long, thin snout and the bulbous growth at the end of its snout is the last remaining species of this ancient line, and the last surviving species of the family-Gavialidae. In the 1970s, the gharial was at the brink of extinction. Since then, various measures have been taken to conserve the gharial species and the conservation programme for gharial is considered as one of the most successful among all the conservation efforts initiated for various endangered species in India. Beginning in 1981, the population of gharial has increased to more than 3000. At present, the wild population of gharial in India is estimated at around 1500 animals.

Rhinoceros Project

The Indian Rhinoceros known as the Great one ‘ Horne d Rhino, is mostly found in Assam. In the beginning of the 20th century, it was considered as one of the endangered species, mainly due to poaching and encroachment of its habitat. The Government of India launched a conservation programme of rhino after independence. At present, there are more than 1800 rhino in Assam. The Kaziranga National Park and the Manas Biosphere Reserves are the main areas of their concentration. Rhinoes are also found in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve.


Hangul or Kashmiri stag is a critically endangered species found mainly in the Dachigam National Park (Srinagar) and its adjoining areas in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.


Vulture is known as the scavenger. It cleans the dead animals. There are nine important species of vultures in India, out of which the population of three (white-backed vultures, slender billed vulture and long billed vultures) is declining. These three species are included in the list of ‘critically endangered’ species. The government of India started the vulture recovery programme in 2004.

The Great Indian Bustard

Indian bustard is found in the short grass plains and desert plains of west Rajasthan and north Gujarat. This bird is on the red list of IUCN due to its small and declining population. Indian bustard is the most endangered member of the bustard family in the world and the total population in wild may not exceed 700.

Ganges Dolphin

The Ministry of Environment and Forests notified the Ganges River Dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal. The River Dolphin inhabits the Ganges Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India and Bangladesh. According to one estimate the total population of Ganges Dolphin is around 2000, and they are listed in the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act-1972. The Ganga Dolphin is among the four ‘obligate’ freshwater dolphin found in the world- the other three are the ‘baiji’ found in Yangtze Kiang (China), the ‘bhulan’ of the Indus (Pakistan), and the ‘boto’ of the Amazon River (South America).

Although there are several species of marine dolphins whose ranges include some freshwater habitats, these four species live only in rivers and lakes. Chinese River Dolphin was declared functionally extinct by a team of International scientists in 2006. In India, the Ganga River Dolphin is threatened by river water pollution and siltation, accidental entanglement in fishing nets and poaching for their oil. Moreover, alternation to the rivers in the form of barrages and dams are separating populations. Various organizations, including the WWF-India in Uttar Pradesh have initiated programmes for conservation and re-introduction of the River Dolphin.

Snow Leopard

The Himalayas in northern India are home to about 200 to 600 snow leopards. The ‘Project Snow Leopard’ has been launched by the Government of India in January 2009 for conservation of snow leopard and its habitat. It aims to promote a knowledge based and adaptive conservation framework that fully involves the local communities who share the snow leopard’s range.

Classification of Endangered plants and animals, based on International Union of Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Environment and Ecology