Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks have the common goal of protecting and preserving life in nature.
Wildlife Sanctuaries vs National Parks
The difference between wildlife sanctuary and national park is that wildlife sanctuaries have the purpose of protecting animal life and animal habitats. On the other hand, the goal of national parks is to protect not only animals, but also plant life, ecosystems, bodies of water, and the general landscape of an area.
While the two have the shared benefit of protecting and preserving our planet’s diversity, they are not interchangeable terms. Additional differences between wildlife sanctuaries and national parks include legislation, human activity, borders, ownership, and levels of protection.
Comparison Table Between Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks
|Parameter of Comparison||Wildlife Sanctuary||National Park|
|Legislation||A wildlife sanctuary is created by a central government or a state government.||A national park is created by a state government or a central legislature.|
|Human Activity||Wildlife sanctuaries are generally open to the public, though hunting is not allowed and humans must not disrupt animal habitats.||Most national parks are closed off to visitors, but some are not.|
|Borders||Wildlife sanctuaries usually don’t have fixed boundaries, but include more general areas.||National parks have clearly defined boundaries. This is largely to protect the park and prevent humans from entering.|
|Ownership||Wildlife sanctuaries are sometimes government-owned; however, they may also be owned by a private institution or organization.||National parks are strictly owned by the government, who has jurisdiction over the area.|
|Level of Protection||Wildlife sanctuaries mainly protect animals and animal habitats.||National parks protect animals, plants, ecosystems, landscapes, and areas that are historically significant and need protection.|
What are Wildlife Sanctuaries?
A wildlife sanctuary is an area in nature that is preserved for animal wildlife. It is also set in place to protect animal habitats. Wildlife sanctuaries are government-created and maintained. They are different than national parks in that they do not have fixed borders.
While many wildlife sanctuaries are government-owned, there are plenty of wildlife sanctuaries that are created and maintained by private organizations. While people can visit most wildlife sanctuaries, they must adhere to certain rules.
Most wildlife sanctuaries will not allow humans to leave the footpath or designated areas. This ensures that people can enjoy the sanctuary while still protecting animal habitats and ecosystems. It is also a matter of safety for both humans and animals in the sanctuary.
Hunting, poaching, or in any way interfering with animal life is strictly prohibited in wildlife sanctuaries. Some wildlife sanctuaries focus on one species, while others protect multiple species. Furthermore, a wildlife sanctuary is usually smaller than a national park.
The main goal of a wildlife sanctuary is to protect endangered species and give these species a protected area where they can survive while being protected from human development, such as deforestation or construction. Wildlife sanctuaries can also be upgraded to national parks.
What are National Parks?
National parks are government-owned and maintained, which means the government can create specific legislation to protect national parks from human interference. Most national parks are strictly protected from human involvement, but not all.
For example, Zions National Park, Arches National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Canyonlands National Park (each located in the United States) are open year-round for visitors to enjoy the scenery.
Although some national parks welcome visitors, they still have very strict rules about how to conduct themselves when visiting the park.
Visitors must not leave a trace behind. This ensures that the park stays protected from litter or damage. National parks have very clearly defined borders, which enables the government and park rangers to keep a close eye on the area.
National parks encompass a broader range of protection than wildlife sanctuaries.
While wildlife sanctuaries mainly protect animal life, national parks preserve habitats, animal life, plant life, ecosystems, the general landscape, and any historically significant landmarks, like cliff dwellings or petroglyphs.
National parks not only protect wildlife, but they also seek to facilitate new wildlife by giving species a safe place to continue to grow and thrive. This is why many national parks prohibit human activity.
When left alone, nature is allowed to thrive and species are able to multiply. The legislation ensures that human activity is restricted in national parks.
Millions of different species, from animals to birds to insects, can thrive in a national park where they are protected from development or harmful human activities.
There are hundreds of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks around the world. Some of the most famous national parks include Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile, Fjordland National Park in New Zealand, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Kruger National Park in South Africa, Kaziranga National Park in India, and Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
Some famous wildlife sanctuaries include the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Australia, Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, and the Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation in Mexico.
If a government feels that an area of land is in danger of being destroyed or interfered with, they may choose to protect it by making it into a wildlife sanctuary.
Likewise for animals: when certain species are in danger of extinction or endangerment, it is common for the local government to initiate a wildlife sanctuary to protect these species.
Human involvement can have a big impact on nature, for better or for worse. When governments and organizations work together to create safe spaces for nature to thrive, they are using their influence for the betterment of the planet.
Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are popular with travelers and tourists who want to escape to nature and enjoy it in its untouched state.
Protecting natural habitats for plants and animals ensures that they can continue to thrive, adding more biodiversity to our planet.