Historical, Sociocultural, and Mythological Aspects of Faunal Conservation in Rajasthan

  • B. K. Sharma
  • Seema Kulshreshtha
  • Shailja Sharma


This chapter exhibits the unique history, religions, and sociocultural traditions of the people of Rajasthan which have contributed a great deal in the preservation of wildlife. The ethics of conservation are nurtured by saints and spiritual teachers like Guru Jambheshwarji, the great environmentalist of the fifteenth century and are directly linked with the religion. The temples of animals such as Garuda (Brahmini Kite) at Chittourgarh, Karni mata (the Goddess Durga) temple of Bikaner district, famous for its thousands of rats inhabiting the premises, temples of snake deities like Gogaji and Tejaji in Gogamerhi (Hanumangarh district), and the Mahishasur temple of a buffalo demon who situated at Oriya village near Mount Abu town and festivals for animals like snake worship on Nagpanchmi and calf and cow worship on Bachh-baras present the religious aspects of conservation. Likewise, the sacrifice of animals to please the deities is an age-old tradition among the Rajput community in Rajasthan and despite being banned, it still continues clandestinely even today. Cattle fairs like, Camel fair at Jaisalmer, Donkey fair at Pushkar, and the Elephant fair at Jaipur strongly indicate the sociocultural aspect of faunal linkages to the people of Rajasthan. Birds like Kurjan (Demoiselle Crane), parakeet, Indian PeaFowl and House Crow have been favorite themes of the Rajasthan’s folk music since ages. Interestingly, the ancient literature of Rajasthan mentions elephant, tiger, bear, horse, cat, and many beautiful birds in the context of war, hunting, weather and climate forecasting in addition to romance and agriculture. The chapter also presents a wonderful account of the fauna in retrospect. Asiatic Lion and Indian Cheetah were present in the eighteenth century but vanished due mainly to hunting. Shikar (hunting) was a favorite sport of the erstwhile rulers which always found a place in the itinerary of visiting Viceroys and British officers. Royal families also owned private hunting preserves, most of which were taken up by the government after India’s Independence and developed as wildlife sanctuaries. The chapter mentions about Amrita Devi, a Bishnoi lady with great courage and conviction who along with 366 villagers was martyred in the year 1730 while trying to stop tree-cutting by men of the then ruler at the famous Khejadi village near Jodhpur district. It is for the commitment for protecting wild animals, especially Blackbuck and Chinkara, that the Bishnoi community stands apart from countless other sects and communities in India. On the other hand, hunting is an integral part of the socioeconomic life of most of the tribals like Mogiya, Bawaria, and Pardhi which have been held responsible for the killing of more than 500 tigers and an equal number of leopards in the national parks of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states during the past two decades.


Wildlife Sanctuary Joint Forest Management Princely State Albert Museum Jodhpur District 
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The authors are extremely grateful to Dr. Divyabhanusinh Chavda, President, WWF-India, Mr. Niranjan Sant, Mr. Aditya Roy, Ms. Babette de Jonge, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, for providing rarest of rare pictures and paintings.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. K. Sharma
    • 1
  • Seema Kulshreshtha
    • 2
  • Shailja Sharma
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyR.L. Saharia Government P.G. College(Jaipur)India
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyShakambhar Government P.G. CollegeSambhar Lake (Jaipur)India
  3. 3.Department of International Business and Management, Manchester Business SchoolThe University of ManchesterWest ManchesterUK

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