National parks have always been the natural reservoirs of biodiversity and the last bastion against the rapid development which has put our nature at grave risk over the past few decades. They are protected vast swathes of breathtaking landscapes, pristine water bodies, hilly terrains and home to indigenous tribes and exotic creatures.
National parks help to take care of places with natural and historical value. Some plants and animals find it very difficult, or impossible, to survive in areas where their habitat has been disturbed or changed. National parks preserve habitats for a wide range of native plants and wildlife. Parks maintain and protect endangered species and help in the revival of near extinct species through techniques such as captive breeding.
Teachers in their own essence
National parks provide the opportunities to learn about flora and fauna as well as to explore the beauty of diverse environments.
When it all started
The national park culture started off in the United States in the mid-19th century when it was passed off as a national pride to showcase to the world the natural wonders of their nation. In 1872, Abraham Lincoln’s former general, President Ulysses S. Grant, built Yellowstone situated in Wyoming, America’s and the world’s first national park. This then led to the birth of other national parks around the world.
National parks in India
India had its first national park in 1936 as Hailey National Park, now known as Jim Corbett National Park.
As of April 2012, there were 112 national parks. All national park land encompassed a total of 39,919 km2, comprising 1.21% of India's total surface area.
Dachigam National Park in Kashmir is the only area where the Kashmir stag is found. For any nature lover and for children, this park is a sensory treat. In national parks, one gets to spot various exotic animals from red pandas to white tigers to Asiatic lions.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands have ten national parks which are not only home to many rare species of plants and animals but also showcase how men and nature can co-exist together without interfering with each other.
Species of fauna in the reserve include the Nicobar scrubfowl (a megapode bird), edible nest-swiftlet, Nicobar short-tailed macaque, coconut crab, Malayan box turtle, reticulated python, saltwater crocodile and giant leatherback sea turtle.
So, the next time you are planning your vacation, don’t forget about visiting national parks. National parks are not only a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city but also teach an important lesson of conserving our one and only life-force – Nature.