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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-21

Cattle and Conservation at Bharatpur: A Case Study in Science and Advocacy

History Department, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801, USA

Correspondence Address:
Michael Lewis
History Department, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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For generations of ecologists and park managers throughout the world the de­structive nature of livestock grazing on natural systems was so apparent that it never even needed to be discussed. Based on this insight, a ban on livestock grazing was put into practice in US national parks, and written into law in India. At Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur, this received wisdom did not have the desired effect of improving the health of the ecosystem. When cattle were banned in 1982, the park's habitat began a slow decline. Through a discussion of debates about grazing in national parks in India in the 1960s, and focusing specifically upon Keoladeo Ghana National Park, this case study challenges the attempt to search for universal conservation truths to be imposed throughout the world. This article does not deny that ecology is a valuable tool for making con­servation decisions, but rather claims that the attempt to apply ecological insights as universal conservation truths is highly problematic, fraught with risks, easily politicised and frequently ineffective.

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