India’s Role in Animal Conservation

India has been conserving animals since the reign of Emperor Ashoka. It was he who founded sort of wildlife sanctuaries and prevented his subjects from killing animals. He also asked them to live in harmony with the animals. It was India which gave rise to Buddhism and Jainism, the religions which do not allow the eating of animals and also is against animal cruelty. Vegetarianism originated and gained shape in India. Earlier, (and still today in many households) Hindus offered a day of fast or eating only vegetarian food and in some cases even strict vegan food in the name of God. Ancient Texts have also stated that eating vegetarian food, once a week or more is a key to healthy living.

Mughals who are believed to feast daily on choicest of meat dishes daily were actually the one who themselves consumed vegetarian food more than non-veg and also popularised it with their subjects and other rulers. They usually loved to eat plain food. And the Mughlai food we eat as a part of celebrating our weekends were experimented by the chefs at the expenses of the monarch, this was actually a time pass activity for them. This obviously couldn’t be done all the time, as we know they were good rulers and also needed to spend time on the subjects and their welfare.

Many people think that the Indian Monarchs loved to hunt but this was not the case with the majority. It was the princely states which voluntarily gave huge land amounts to be converted into wildlife sanctuaries.

Some important facts about Indian wildlife:

  1. India accounts for 70% of world tiger population. As of 2016, 3891 tigers live in India. Madhya Pradesh accounts for the highest population of tigers.
  2. India is the only non-African country, which has lions. The only state where they are found is Gujarat.
  3. India has the largest vegetarian population.(This fact is not related to wildlife)
  4. India is the home for many endemic species like Indian one-horned rhinoceros, lion-tailed macaque, Asiatic lions and blue bull(actually an antelope which has a bluish fur, especially in males)
  5. Bison are not found in India. The animal which is called so is the Indian Gaur(another endemic species).
  6. Grey Wolf is found in India, many do not even know this. They stay baffled when they are acquainted with this. The Indian Wolf is an endemic subspecies of the Grey wolf about whom less is known. They usually hunt in pairs.
  7. Cheetah was once found throughout the Indian States of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Black Buck was its main prey here. But due to its extinction because of hunting, the Black Buck which has been later turned into an endangered species have no natural predators. But humans have cleared off a large chunk of the Buck population.
  8. Indian Cheetah may soon roam India as India is trying to bring Iranian Cheetah to India as both are quite same.
  9. The word ‘Cheetah’ derived from Hindi word ‘Chita’ meaning spotted.
  10. India is the birthplace of aurochs, the ancestor of cattle. Visit for more information on them.

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