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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Difference between National Park, Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserves

Our beautiful Planet Earth consists of different types of animals, birds, plants, trees, mountains, and various natural landscapes. Humans occupy a large part of the earth. Overpopulation, deforestation, environmental pollution, poaching, hunting, and other circumstances caused by human beings create a threat for animals and plants. As a result, many animals are left unprotected and without shelter. Many species of birds and animals have become endangered. Some are on the verge of extinction.

National parks and wildlife sanctuaries are areas dedicated to protect and conserve the natural habitat. Wildlife sanctuaries are developed to give a safe shelter to animals and protect them.

National parks are designed for protection, conservation of animals, and allow people to view them.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the two concepts.

Key differences between a Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park

Basis of comparison Wildlife Sanctuary   National Park
Aim The aim is to provide a safe environment for animals and birds to live and breed The aim is to protect animals, birds, and reptiles as well as landscapes and historic structures within the area
Ownership A government or a private organization can own a wildlife sanctuary National parks are held only by government agencies
Restriction There are fewer restrictions, and the space is open to public National parks are highly restricted, and you will require special permission to enter these areas
Boundaries The boundaries are not correctly marked and may not be visible Boundaries are neatly marked here
Human activity Activities such as farming and cropping are allowed No such human activities are allowed

What is a Wildlife Sanctuary?

As mentioned earlier, wildlife sanctuaries are a haven for animals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Also called wildlife refuges, these places provide healthy and safe living conditions for animals. Wildlife sanctuaries protect animals from illegal human activities such as poaching. These are responsible for endangering many species of animals. The officials of these wildlife sanctuaries rescue many animals from life-threatening conditions. They also rescue abandoned animals. They feed these animals and take care of them so that they can breed and live properly.

Wildlife sanctuaries secure animals whose habitats have been destroyed. Governmental or private agencies reserve the area for a wildlife sanctuary. The International Union of Conservation of Nature declared that the wildlife sanctuaries would fall under Category 4 of the protected areas. The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 mentions the protected areas.

Characteristics of a Wildlife Sanctuary

The main features of wildlife sanctuaries are as follows:

  • They are built for the protection of endangered species of animals, birds, and reptiles from harmful human activities such as killing, illegal trade, and poaching.
  • Environmental conservators, biologists, and researchers are allowed within the premises to learn more about the animals. This knowledge helps them to take the necessary measures to enhance the lives of the animals and protect them.
  • Some sanctuaries also secure abandoned or injured animals. The sanctuary officials cure these animals and release them back into the forest.
  • Unlike a zoo, most of the sanctuaries are not accessible to the public. Any human activity that might harm the animals is prohibited within the premises.
  • Another essential objective of wildlife sanctuaries is to educate the public about wildlife protection.
  • The two significant organizations providing accreditation to wildlife sanctuaries are the American Sanctuary Association and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

The most popular wildlife sanctuaries in India are Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka, Gir National Park, and Sasan Gir Sanctuary, Gujarat, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka and Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa.

What is a National Park?

A national park is an area built by the government for the protection and conservation of wildlife. A National park houses many varieties of animals, birds, plants, trees, reptiles, and microorganisms. Apart from the activities related to the protection of animals, recreation is also an objective, which means that the public can pay a visit to the parks and view these animals.

Other opportunities for recreation are also available for the public, such as camping, trekking, and hiking.

Most of the natural parks have outstanding natural landscapes such as mountains, forests, terrains, rivers, and lakes. These places are often considered symbols of national pride. National parks attract many tourists from different parts of the world. These parks contribute primarily to the tourism of any country. National park guards and officials monitor all the recreational activities so that the animals are not affected in any way.

The International Union of Conservation of Nature has categorized the national parks in category 2 of the protected areas. The Northeast Greenland National Park is the largest national park in the world in terms of area. The smallest national park in the world is the Isles des Madeleines National Park, located in Senegal, with an area of 0.45 square kilometers.

India has many outstanding national parks such as Jim Corbett National Park, Sundarban National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Kanha National Park, Jaldapara National Park and Simlipal National Park.

Characteristics of National Park

The essential features of national parks are given below:

  • Apart from the conservation of animals, national parks are also responsible for the protection of natural landforms such as mountains, dunes, caves, forests, and lakes. The officials execute activities that prevent environmental destruction and pollution.
  • National parks are a place that preserved historical structures such as monuments, temples, and buildings that are within the premises.
  • National parks also protect indigenous tribes and communities that are unable to survive in modern society and depend on nature for their survival. These groups of people are secured within the protected areas of the national parks.
  • You are required to obtain special permission for the respective authorities before entering a national park.
  • Human activities such as grazing and farming are strictly prohibited inside national parks.
  • National park rangers are involved in rescue missions and fire-fighting activities. They also execute tasks for rescuing animals.

The Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the world built in 1872 in the United States of America.

What are Biosphere Reserves?

A biosphere is an ecosystem that can have a variety of plants and animals that are of natural significance. This is a special that is designated by the government for the protection and preservation of genetic diversity, which means the protection of animals, tribal populations, and domesticated animals or plants.

The term biosphere was given by UNESCO to protect these specific regions. An essential aim of building biospheres is to promote the use of natural resources sustainably. All the biospheres are divided into three major zones.

They are as follows:

Core zone

The core zone is also called natural territory. The area is legally protected where no human activity is allowed here. Scientists and biologists treat these areas as reference points. These areas help them in researching and understanding the state of the ecosystem in the biosphere reserve. Furthermore, the data gathered from the core zones are useful in developing sustainable activities. The officials who manage these zones prepare and launch projects to protect the environment.

Buffer zone

The buffer zone is the area around the core zone. Certain human activities such as environmental research, management of forests, fisheries, and agricultural land are allowed. Any business that will enhance and protect the quality of the area is permitted. The buffer zone may be used for education, training, and some recreation. Overall, human activity is less intensive in this region.

Transition zone

This area is also called the manipulation zone, where people are allowed to live and work. Activities such as cropping and recreation are allowed without harming the environment. Local communities, scientists, environmentalists, conservation firms, and business groups work together to utilize the area sustainably.

Characteristics of a Biosphere Reserve

Essential features of biosphere reserves are as follows:

  • These reserves aim to protect ecosystems within a region without affecting the local inhabitants
  • The biosphere officials are involved in activities that restore habitats and ecosystems
  • The areas help in integrating biological and cultural diversity
  • Biosphere reserves act as a platform for exchanging information and resources between other biospheres, for sustainable development


Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are significant regions for environmental conservation. Most of the wildlife sanctuaries are later converted into national parks. This helps the conservationists and biologists to take a closer look at the present state of animals.

Both the sanctuaries and national parks heavily contribute to the tourism of that particular country where they are located. National parks organize many initiatives such as environmental campaigns, slogans, workshops, and even online campaigns. All the people of sanctuaries and parks collaborate with other stakeholders to protect the natural habitat.

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