Difference Between Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks

Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks aim to protect and preserve life in nature.


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Key Takeaways

  1. A wildlife sanctuary is an area for conserving and protecting wildlife, including flora and fauna.
  2. A national park is a protected area managed by the government to preserve natural and cultural resources, including wildlife, geological formations, and historical sites.
  3. A wildlife sanctuary is focused on protecting wildlife and their habitat, while a national park is focused on preserving a broader range of natural and cultural resources.

Wildlife Sanctuaries vs National Parks

The difference between a wildlife sanctuary and a national park is that wildlife sanctuaries aim to protect 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.

Wildlife Sanctuaries vs National Parks

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The benefits of protecting and preserving our planet’s diversity are not interchangeable.

Additional differences between wildlife sanctuaries and national parks include legislation, human activity, borders, ownership, and levels of protection.

Difference Between Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonWildlife SanctuaryNational Park
LegislationA central government or a state government creates a wildlife sanctuary.A state government or a central legislature creates a national park.
Human ActivityWildlife sanctuaries are generally open to the public, though hunting is prohibited, and humans must not disrupt animal habitats.Most national parks are closed off to visitors, but some are not.
BordersWildlife sanctuaries usually don’t have fixed boundaries but include more general areas.National parks have clearly defined boundaries. This is large to protect the park and prevent humans from entering.
OwnershipWildlife sanctuaries are sometimes government-owned but may also be owned by a private institution or organization.National parks are strictly owned by the government, which has jurisdiction over the area.
Level of ProtectionWildlife sanctuaries mainly protect animals and animal habitats.National parks protect animals, plants, ecosystems, landscapes, and historically significant areas that 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 from national parks because they do not have fixed borders.

While many wildlife sanctuaries are government-owned, plenty of wildlife sanctuaries are created and maintained by private organizations. While people can visit most wildlife sanctuaries, they must adhere to specific rules.

Most wildlife sanctuaries will not allow humans to leave the footpath or designated areas. This ensures that people enjoy the sanctuary while protecting animal habitats and ecosystems.

It is also a matter of safety for humans and animals in the sanctuary.

Hunting, poaching, or 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 them 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.

Wildlife Sanctuary

What are National Parks?

National parks are government-owned and maintained, so 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 stringent rules about conducting 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 clearly defined borders, enabling the government and park rangers to monitor the area closely.

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 historically significant landmarks, like cliff dwellings or petroglyphs.

National parks protect and seek to facilitate new wildlife by giving species a safe place to continue growing and thriving. This is why many national parks prohibit the human activity.

When left alone, nature is allowed to thrive, and species can multiply. The legislation ensures that human activity is restricted in national parks.

Millions of species, from animals to birds to insects, can thrive in a national park where they are protected from development or harmful human activities.

National Park


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, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Australia, the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, and the Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation Mexico.

If a government feels that an area of land is in danger of being destroyed or interfered with, it may 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 them.

Human involvement can have a significant impact on nature, for better or for worse. When governments and organizations work together to create safe spaces for nature to thrive, they use their influence to improve the planet.

Wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are popular with travellers and tourists who want to escape to nature and enjoy it in its untouched state.

Protecting natural habitats for plants and animals ensures they can continue to thrive, adding more biodiversity to our planet.

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JYFmoOWfmX8C&oi=fnd&pg=PA5&dq=Wildlife+Sanctuaries+and+National+Parks&ots=_RbUM2rtQg&sig=QFV3cL2h9wrRgthm6hv6Tt5YcfU
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-7660.1994.tb00514.x
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