A case for reconsidering the conservation status of former Closed Areas in arid landscapes of western India

Subhadeep Bhattacharjee, Zaara Kidwai, Santosh Bhattarai, Hemant Bajpai, Goddilla Viswanatha Reddy, Kowiyou Yessoufou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Indian Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) of 1972 prohibits hunting within the ProtectedAreas (PA), while diverse populations of wildlife exist outside them, as well. In the 1980s, the State Government of Rajasthan declared wildlife-rich areas (14690 km2) located outside PA, as Closed Areas (CA) to prohibit hunting activities. In 2002, due to an amendment of the WPA of 1972, these CA lost their PA status, thus putting into question, the future of these endangered species-rich ecosystems. To inform future management decisions, a rapid biodiversity assessment was conducted across seven former CA in the arid landscapes of western Rajasthan. Furthermore, the dynamics of biodiversity and conservation practices over time was also assessed through interviews of 3357 adults from 2470 households in the region. Due to the natural low productivity of arid regions, the mean tree density (5.2 ± 0.8 individual ha−1) was found significantly lower (P = 0.001) than the mean shrub density (114.4 ± 31.4 individual ha−1) particularly where human interferences were recorded, while species richness and diversity (Sobs and Shannon indices) were higher for trees (16 ± 0.0 and 2.4, respectively) than the shrubs (13 ± 0.1 and 1.8, respectively). Prosopis cineraria was assessed, as the most dominant and exploited tree species. Ecological densities of all the wild ungulates (11.7 ± 1.8 individual km−2) were quite comparable to other well-guarded PA of India. However, high density of domestic livestock (94.6 ± 7.2 individual km−2) provides severe competition to them. Indian desert fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla) and domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), adapted to survive amongst human dominated landscapes, were the most abundant canids (0.9 ± 0.2 individual km−2 and 0.6 ± 0.1 individual km−2, respectively), where the latter was considerably responsible for wild ungulate mortalities. State Government records and over 69% of the interviewees (n = 2331) reported that the region's wildlife populations had significantly declined during the past two decades in absence of any designated protection regime. Therefore, to protect this endangered biodiversity, reconsideration of the future conservation status of these former CA should be prioritized, as “Conservation Reserves – CR” or “Community Conservation Reserves – CCR” with the assistance of local communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-40
Number of pages11
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Arid landscapes
  • Canids
  • Closed Areas
  • Ungulates
  • Vegetation
  • Western India

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'A case for reconsidering the conservation status of former Closed Areas in arid landscapes of western India'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this