Conservation of nature and wildlife has been an integral part of the cultural ethos of the people of Indian Sub-continent, more so in some of the rural and indigenous communities in the region. The status of mega wildlife in India is an indicator of that. Out of the 48,000 Asiatic elephants in Asia, ~30,000 elephants are in the Indian forests. ~14,000 of the 20,000 leopards in Asia, are in India. Despite the present crisis of tigers, more than half of the total tigers are in Indian forests. And the best of it all, the Asiatic lions are found only in the Gir forest of Gujarat thanks to the conservation effort of the Nawab of Junagadh.
Prophets and saints of all faiths in the subcontinent have advocated non-violence and respect for all organisms— be it Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavir or the Sufi Saints. Ancient rock edicts, folk lore, art and literature provide ample proof that wildlife enjoyed a privileged position in the subcontinent. Kautilya's Arthashastra talks about the Mauryan period where certain forests were declared protected and called Abhayaranya like the present day 'sanctuary'. Heavy penalties, including capital punishment, were prescribed for offenders who entrapped, killed or otherwise molested elephants, deer, bison, birds, or fish, amongst other animals. Till date, this acknowledgement of the need for conserving wildlife is ingrained in our culture and tradition.
In the subcontinent, if something is linked to a certain belief or a form of worship, then it is taken very seriously. So is the case of connecting religious belief with animal protection. There are places, that bring these two – faith and conservation together.