Difference Between Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve and National Park

By K Balaji|Updated : November 11th, 2022

There are three kinds of wildlife reserves in India to protect the ecosystem, biodiversity and its species. They are National Park, Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve. A wildlife sanctuary is an area set aside to protect animals and plants that are threatened or endangered. On the other hand, a national park is a reserved area meant to preserve its natural vegetation, wildlife and beauty. A biosphere reserve is a multipurpose protected area that may not have any of those elements or resources, but it is chosen for its biological diversity and its proper management of it.

There are several differences between National Park, Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve in terms of boundaries, restrictions, tourism and species.

Difference Between National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve

All three of these parks provide a safe haven for wildlife and natural habitats. Each of these parks is unique and provides refuge to its own ecosystems, native animals, and plants. Wildlife sanctuaries are smaller than national parks and are privately owned.

National parks are owned by the government and are larger in size. Biosphere reserves are located in regions worldwide where both natural and cultural heritage are protected. These locations are also home to unique and rare species of animals and plants.

Wildlife Sanctuary

National Park

Biosphere Reserve

Species Oriented

Natural Habitat for Wild Animals

Eco-system Oriented

Boundaries are not fixed

Fixed boundaries according to legislation

Fixed boundaries according to legislation.

The average size is 100-500 sq km

Size range is 0.61 to 7818 sq km.

The size range is over 5670 sq km.

Tourism destination

Tourism destination

Tourism not allowed

Except the buffer zone, no interference

Limited interference.

Except the buffer zone, no biotic interference.

Fewer Regulations

High Restrictions

Moderately Restricted

National Park vs Wildlife Sanctuary vs Biosphere Reserve

One difference between Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve is that wildlife sanctuary can be owned by both the Government and private entities, however biosphere reserves are only government-owned. And one major difference between biosphere reserve and national park is that in national parks little human activities are allowed and restrictions are partial whereas in a biosphere reserve, no human activity is allowed.

  • Multiple National Parks, Sanctuaries, and Reserves may be included in Biosphere Reserves. One of the best examples of this is the Nilgiri Biosphere, which is often a contiguous area, including Bandipur National Park, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Silent Valley National Park, Nagarhole National Park, and Mukurthi National Park.

National Park Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve

Go through the basic definitions and examples of all three reserves to be able to differentiate between wildlife sanctuary and national park and biosphere reserve

Difference Between Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve and National Park PDF

Wildlife Sanctuary

A wildlife sanctuary is an area, usually a part of a large park, that is mainly dedicated to protecting a certain type of animal in the region. It is off-limits to the general public, usually with large warnings of "no trespassing" to protect the animals from people who may try to hurt them. In a wildlife sanctuary, visitors are allowed to go close to the animals without any threat of being attacked by them.

Wildlife sanctuaries can be a great place to go on vacation, see animals in their natural habitat, and interact with them. Some wildlife sanctuaries are also rehabilitation centers. In this case, injured animals are brought here for medical treatment, and once they can be re-released into the wild, they are taken to a designated area and let go.

National Park

A National Park is a large area of land and water set aside for recreation and nature. They are preserved and protected for future generations and are major tourist attractions. There are many types of National Parks, from forests to the ocean, with various wildlife, ecosystems, and history. And they can be found all over the world.

Biosphere Reserve

A biosphere reserve is an area of land mostly untouched by humans. It's meant to be a place to learn about wildlife and nature before humans start to develop it. For example, we can see how animals that are native to the area adapt to the environment with their behavior, diet, and appearance of their body parts. We can learn about the habitats of plants and animals. It's also a way to preserve it and keep it as a safe haven for animals that need a safe place to live.

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FAQs on Difference Between Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve and National Park

  • The main difference between national parks and biosphere reserves and wildlife sanctuaries is that national parks aim to protect the habitat of various species. In contrast, wildlife sanctuaries are built to protect species of flora and fauna. The biosphere reserve is a bigger reserve to safeguard the entire ecosystem.

  • Currently, there are 104 national parks, 551 Wildlife Sanctuaries, and 18 Biosphere Reserves in India, such as Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Hemis National Park and Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.

  • The main objective of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve is to promote and safeguard the environment, biodiversity and the specialized flora and fauna that are included by protecting their habitats.

  • The biggest wildlife sanctuary in the world is the Selous Game Reserve in the southeast corner of Tanzania. It is roughly the size of Wales, the entire country of Austria, and two-thirds the size of Maine. It is home to the fabled African elephant, hippopotamus, wild dogs, hyenas, impalas, leopards, buffalos, and many other species of animals. Some of the species in the game reserve are endangered, and thus the Selous is under protection by the government and by international organizations like the WCS and the IUCN.

  • The oldest national park in the world is Yellowstone National Park. When it was officially designated as a National Park in 1872, it became the first National Park in the United States. It was also the first national park in the world; the second oldest is Mackenzie Delta National Park, which was created in 1974. In total, 59 countries have national parks, including Brazil and Mexico. The United States has 59 National Parks (in total), including the newest in 2016, which is the National Park Service's 100-year anniversary!

  • The largest biosphere reserve in the world is the Tropical Andes Biosphere Reserve. It's located in the Andes Mountain range in South America. With its location, it's a sunny and warm place to live with plenty of rain. This reserve is home to various animal species, such as toucans, armadillos, jaguars, and even a variety of plants and trees.

  • The Jim Corbett National Park. Situated in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, the park was established in 1936 to protect the Bengal tigers. Through the years, the park has been maintained to protect tigers as well as other animals. This national park of India also protects the habitats of other animals as well as birds, reptiles, and insects.

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