Identifying wildlife corridors of large mammals and restricted their land use, bringing clarity on mercy killing of old and infirm wild animals, preventing siting of infrastructure projects in forests and a new Doordarshan channel on nature conservation. These are some of the crucial elements in the draft national wildlife action plan (NWAP) of the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change that will serve as a road-map for wildlife conservation between 2017-2031. The country got its first NWAP in 1983 and the second one began in 2002 and ended in 2016. The union environment ministry has now sought suggestions and comments on the draft from the experts and public at large.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In May 2014, a 14-member committee was formed to review the implementation of the previous NWAP and to develop a new NWAP. In the new draft document, the ministry’s expert committee has stressed on landscape based conservation centred around apex wildlife species. As part of its recommendations, identifying and demarcating wildlife corridors is a crucial one. Outside the network of protected areas, there exist several wildlife corridors of carnivores such as tigers, leopards and large mammals such as elephants.The draft asks for securing of these wildlife corridors after they proper demarcations and restrictions on changes in their land use. It has often been noted that infrastructure projects cut through these wildlife corridors affecting the movement of tigers and elephants. On wildlife health, the NWAP has broached the issue of euthanasia among wild animals, that it has described as a ‘sensitive subject’ as it amounts to hunting under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The new draft has recommended that there is an urgent need to define the terms of euthanasia and mercy killing when it comes to terminally ill animals.For the first time, the NWAP has also touched upon the issue of threats to wildlife due to free ranging feral dogs. It has called for formulating a strategy to manage free ranging domestic and feral dogs, cats in wildlife habitats.Dogs are known to be the source of canine distemper and other viruses that prove fatal for big cats such as tigers and leopards who prey on dogs around protected areas. In fact, in and around Panna national park, dogs were collared in a survey after a sterilization drive to prevent cases of tiger deaths due to canine distemper.Dogs are also known to prey on turtle eggs while cats are found preying on nesting birds. On these issues, the draft has suggested that multiple agencies need to come together and check their population.

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New draft wildlife action plan calls for demarcation of wildlife corridors