Difference between national park and wildlife sanctuary

Our forests are the most precious part of the earth. From ancient times the interaction of man and the environment was maintained efficiently till the 18th century. Then the phase of Industrialization started and the greed of men became infinite so the speed of clearing the forests and butchering the animals for beauty products, medicinal purposes, and decorative items increased rapidly.

Conservation of the ecosystem is an act of protecting Mother Earth for present and future generations. For this purpose, many NGOs and Intergovernmental panels Like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are helping to preserve, protect and nourish the forests. it is important to understand the differences and similarities between the wildlife sanctuary and National Park.


National Park:

The National park is a protected area that is formed to preserve fauna, flora, historic objects, landscapes, and any place with geographical importance. National Parks can be formed and declared by the Central or State Government. National Park is an area of significant ecological significance.

A national park has more restrictions as compared to a wildlife sanctuary.

Species mentioned in the Schedules of the Wildlife Act are not allowed to be hunted or captured. No person shall destroy, remove, or exploit any wildlife from a National Park.

Grazing of livestock minor forest collection is not permitted here.

National Park has a heavy restriction for movement as No human activities are allowed in the core zone.

The main objective of National Park is the preservation of species and their genetic diversity, maintenance of ecosystems.

Some Important Fact About National Park:

As per the National Wildlife Database (2020), there are 104 existing National parks in India. They are covering 1.33% of the geographical area of the country (an area of 43,716 km2).

In 1872, World’s first national park was established in the United State of America.

In 1936 India established Hailey National Park but renamed it as Corbett National Park, named After Jim Corbett well-known Writer Hunter and Naturalist.

In India, Madhya Pradesh has the maximum number of National Parks which is 11 (area: 4349.14 Km2) while Uttarakhand is having the largest area under the National Park that is 4,915.02 km2 and Sikkim is having the largest area of National Park (percentage-wise).

In Punjab and 6 Union Territories i.e. Dehli, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep, Pudducherry, Dadara Nagar, and Diu Dammam have no national parks.

The largest national park in the world is the Northeast Greenland National Park (Greenland) and the largest national park in India is the Hemis National Park, located in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Wildlife Sanctuaries: 

The wildlife sanctuary is an area where animal habitats and their ecosystem are protected from any type of disturbance to ensure a comfortable living environment for the animals.

The boundary line of wildlife sanctuaries is flexible.

It is a natural area that is reserved by the government for the protection of some particular species.

It is meant for preserving species of birds and animals. The wildlife sanctuaries are established to protect endangered species.

The capturing for commercial use, killing, and poaching of animals is strictly prohibited in Wildlife Sanctuaries.   

As per law, tourists are permitted to visit Wildlife Sanctuaries, The general public can also visit these sanctuaries as per the government norms.

Livestock grazing is prohibited in a National Park but can be allowed in a regulated manner in Sanctuaries

A Sanctuary can be upgraded to a National Park but a National Park cannot be downgraded as a Sanctuary.


Some Important Facts:

As per the Wildlife Database, Dec. 2020;

There are 566 existing wildlife sanctuaries in India, covering an area of 122420 km2 which is 3.72% of the geographical area of the country.

The Kaziranga National Park, located in the Golaghat district of Assam is the largest wildlife sanctuaries in India.

Biosphere Reserve: 

Biosphere Reserves are the learning places for sustainable development. They provide practical ways to resolve land-use conflicts and to protect biological diversity.

UNESCO in 1971, initiated the program for Biosphere Reserve under the Man and Biosphere (MAB) program to obtain international cooperation for the conservation of the biospheres. The main goal of the formation of the biosphere reserve is to conserve in situ all forms of life, along with its support system of local government.

The number of biosphere reserves in India is 18.

Structure of Biosphere Reserve:

It is divided into three categories;

1) Core zone: No Activity allowed at all free from human interference protect the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

2) Buffer zone: Moderate activity between the transition and Core zone educational and research activities is permitted. there is permission to limited tourism, fishing, grazing, scientific research, monitoring, training, and education.

3) Transition zone: It is also called as the outermost zone of the Biosphere Reserve. These are used for economic activity such as cropland collection of forest minor and settlement.


Man And Biosphere program (MAB): 

Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an intergovernmental scientific program, launched in 1971 by UNESCO that aims to enhance the relationship between human beings and the environment or ecosystem, based on scientific studies. There are 18 Biosphere Reserves in India.


Some Important facts about Biosphere Reserve:

The Smallest biosphere reserve in India: The Panna (542 km2 only) Biosphere Reserve.

Some other biosphere reserves are Kachchh in Gujarat (Largest Area) and Nilgiri, Tamil Nadu-Kerala 1986 (First to be Included).  


This article is written by;

Mr. Rahul Manal 

[email protected]