Answer by Praveen Bhargav, Managing Trustee, Wildlife First:
Sanctuaries and National Parks are areas of significant ecological, floral, faunal or natural significance. They are notified by State Governments and protected by the Forest Department under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Hunting of wild animals, encroachment and/or destruction of habitat, construction of tourist lodges and other such activities are prohibited.
While most of the provisions are common for Sanctuaries and National Parks, there are three key differences:
- All rights of people within a National Park have to be settled, while in a Sanctuary certain rights can be allowed.
- Livestock grazing is prohibited in a National Park but can be allowed in a regulated manner in Sanctuaries; and
- A Sanctuary can up upgraded to a National Park but a National Park cannot be downgraded as a Sanctuary.
A National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary that is considered significant for protecting tigers can be additionally designated as a Tiger Reserve. A Tiger Reserve consists of a ‘Core’ or ‘Critical Tiger Habitat’, which is to be managed as an inviolate area, and a ‘Buffer’ or Peripheral area immediately abutting a Core area, which may be accorded a lesser degree of habitat protection. This is the typical zonation of a Tiger Reserve.