Wildlife Conservation Efforts

What are Orans?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Orans, Sacred grooves

Mains level: Not Much

Oran Bachao Yatras are taking place in Rajasthan for the protection of orans or sacred groves facing the threat of destruction due to the land being allotted for renewable energy infrastructure and high-tension power lines.

What are Orans?

  • Orans are Community Conserved Areas protected for their sacred values.
  • They include woodlots, pastures, orchards, sacred groves, and habitats usually centered around sources of water such as natural springs, rivulets, or artificially constructed ponds.
  • Additionally, there is usually a shrine dedicated to a local deity at the heart of an Oran.
  • Their traditional boundaries are based on landmarks or geographical milestones established by indigenous and agro-pastoral communities associated with them.
  • Orans are usually defined by a strong community-territory relationship and a well-functioning governance system.

Reasons for the Yatra

  • Named after local deities and medieval warriors, orans hold religious and social significance as small forest patches in the middle of the mighty Thar desert.
  • Orans also form the natural habitat for India’s most critically endangered bird, the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act, which is also the State bird of Rajasthan.
  • GIBs have died during the last few years because of collision with power lines, making this the most significant threat to the majestic birds.

Back2Basics: Sacred Grooves

  • Sacred groves of India are forest fragments of varying sizes, which are communally protected, and which usually have a significant religious connotation for the protecting community.
  • It usually consists of a dense cover of vegetation including climbers, herbs, shrubs and trees, with the presence of a village deity and is mostly situated near a perennial water source.
  • Sacred groves are considered to be symbols of the primitive practice of nature worship and support nature conservation to a great extent.
  • The introduction of the protected area category community reserves under the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002 has introduced legislation for providing government protection to community-held lands, which could include sacred groves.

Historical references

  • Indian sacred groves are often associated with temples, monasteries, shrines, pilgrimage sites, or with burial grounds.
  • Historically, sacred groves find their mentions in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist texts, from sacred tree groves in Hinduism to sacred deer parks in Buddhism for example.
  • Sacred groves may be loosely used to refer to natural habitat protected on religious grounds.
  • Other historical references to sacred groves can be obtained in Vrukshayurveda an ancient treatise, ancient classics such as Kalidasa’s Vikramuurvashiiya.
  • There has been a growing interest in creating green patches such as Nakshatravana

Regulation of activities in Sacred Grooves

  • Hunting and logging are usually strictly prohibited within these patches.
  • Other forms of forest usage like honey collection and deadwood collection are sometimes allowed on a sustainable basis.
  • NGOs work with local villagers to protect such groves.
  • Traditionally, and in some cases even today, members of the community take turns to protect the grove.

Threats to such grooves

  • Threats to the groves include urbanization, and over-exploitation of resources.
  • While many of the groves are looked upon as abode of Hindu deities, in the recent past a number of them have been partially cleared for construction of shrines and temples.

Total grooves in India

  • Around 14,000 sacred groves have been reported from all over India, which act as reservoirs of rare fauna, and more often rare flora, amid rural and even urban settings.
  • Experts believe that the total number of sacred groves could be as high as 100,000.
  • They are called by different names in different states:
  1. Sarna in Bihar
  2. Dev Van in Himachal Pradesh
  3. Devarakadu in Karnataka
  4. Kavu in Kerala
  5. Dev in Madhya Pradesh
  6. Devarahati or Devarai in Maharashtra
  7. Lai Umang in Maharashtra
  8. Law Kyntang or Asong Khosi in Meghalaya
  9. Kovil Kadu or Sarpa Kavu in Tamil Nadu



Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
User Avatar
1 year ago

lai umang mainpur


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch