India faces an ecological crisis of massive proportions today. Over-exploitation of forests, wetlands and coasts, is eating away at vital ecological processes. Rapid and unplanned infrastructural development threatens to further fragment and devour remaining wildlife habitats. Plant and animal species are joining the ranks of the critically endangered, at faster rates than ever before. Using Sariska Tiger Reserve as an anchor, Conservation at the Crossroads: Science, Society and the Future of India’s Wildlife,
analyses the historical, socio-political and biological contexts of nature conservation in the country. It argues that the malaise is a product in part of our dominant conservation paradigm – primarily one of top-down control and exclusion. The book analyses a gamut of alternative approaches to biological conservation that are emerging in India and elsewhere, that attempt to reconcile social equity with biodiversity goals. It argues that a broad-based participatory approach to conservation, accommodating both use -based and preservationist paradigms, will be necessary, if we are to see our extraordinary wildlife survive into the next century. Environmental justice and improved governance has to be as much a part of this agenda as sound ecological science and practice.